As the recent documentary on Ladybird Books made clear, William Murray, creator – with McNally – of Peter and Jane, was a commited educationalist. His methodical, scientific approach to the teaching of literacy was what first enthused Douglas Keen and pointed the way to the outstandingly successful Key Word reading scheme.
However,as a communication I received recently shows, his commitment to learning went beyond the theoretical; he was also a very supportive colleague and empathetic teacher.
“I was a young teacher in the early seventies, and worked with Bill Murray at Westlands School. I went there on supply and Mr Murray appointed me to a permanent post. He was such an amazing man. He had the ability to make every one of us, teacher and pupil, feel special. He introduced me to the school by saying, “When a child comes through that door for the first time, the word failure will never be heard again.” He inspired me and I learnt so much.
My classroom, obviously, was based on his Keyword Readers with the flash cards, Language Master (revolutionary in its day!) and reading cards. We had a grant to give the children breakfast, as Mr. Murray had researched with McNally on the lack of blood sugar affecting learning.
It was a very special place and I felt honoured to play a small part”.