Professor Leonard Marsh OBE was Principal of Bishop Grosseteste College (now Bishop Grosseteste University) for 22 years from September 1974 until August 1996.
Educated at Ashford Grammar School in Kent and Borough Road College in London, he studied for an Academic Diploma in Education and then an Advanced Certificate at the University of London Institute of Education before gaining his Master of Education research degree at the University of Leicester in 1965. His first teaching post was at Crofton Junior School, Kent, where he worked for six years from 1952 before taking up a post as lecturer in education and mathematics at St Paul’s College in Cheltenham.
In 1961 he became Principal Lecturer and Head of Department at Goldsmith’s College, University of London, where he set up the prototype for his later work at BG as the ‘Plowden floor’, and from 1974 until his retirement in 1996 he was Principal of Bishop Grosseteste College in Lincoln. He was Chairman of the National Association for Primary Education from 1981 until 1983, a visiting lecturer and professor at various American colleges, an education consultant in Portugal, Puerto Rico and for the BBC and an external examiner for a number of colleges.
He wrote many books for teachers and children on education and mathematics and was asked to form an advisory committee following the publication of the Plowden Report of 1967 on primary schools in England. Until very recently he was still being asked to advise schools and to speak on his vision of primary education, such was his reputation in the world of primary schools in the UK.
Professor Muriel Robinson, Principal and then Vice Chancellor of Bishop Grosseteste University from 2003 until 2013, said: “Len Marsh made an immense difference to BG in his time there. He understood how children learn and what schools need to be like to facilitate that learning, and he gave the place a superb reputation for primary education.
“BG had a huge in service programme for teachers across the country at that time and that’s how I first met him. I was teaching in London in the early 1980s and I was fortunate enough to take part in some of the programmes they ran in Lincoln. The sessions were amazing, truly inspirational. The physical environment at BG, from the model school environments of the primary bases to the furniture and buildings refurbished using excellent architects and craftsmen, not only raised the level of student achievement but offered practical and practice-changing ideas to many teachers.
“His legacy was to create a worldwide reputation for primary education at BG. He worked with teachers all over the world, from Pakistan and Jordan to Mexico. Across the UK he gave BG a reputation for a particular model of primary education which was almost unique. Across Lincolnshire and well beyond there will be many teachers who will be saddened to read of Len’s passing and whose own careers have been shaped, like mine, by his influence.”
Leonard Marsh’s funeral will take place at 2.30pm on 13th October 2014 at St Nicholas’ Church in Chislehurst.
Bishop Grosseteste University will hold a minute’s silence in memory of Professor Marsh at today’s Grosseteste Day liturgy (8th October) in the University Chapel at 1pm. The service will be attended by the Bishop of Winchester. The university is planning a memorial service for Professor Marsh next month.