School mourns 'formidable' lady

A Ballymena born headteacher who led one of the most innovative schools in England for 24 years has died at the age of 93.

Miss Isa McCartney died from old age at her home in Ballymena, Northern Ireland.

The former headmistress of the Royal Wolverhampton School was widely credited with modernising the school by improving facilities and driving up teaching quality. She was described by ex-colleagues as a “formidable leader with a deep love for her pupils.”

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Miss McCartney was born in 1916 in Northern Ireland and, after teaching for four years in North Wales, joined The Royal Wolverhampton School in 1948.

She was appointed headteacher nine years later and thrived in the role where she was widely admired by staff, pupils and parents alike for her uncompromising attitudes combined with a passion to see her pupils succeed.

As headteacher she oversaw the changing of the school constitution in 1964 which allowed its expansion.

Previously it had accepted only orphaned and service people’s children but the changes allowed it to admit fee-paying and day pupils for the first time. She also increased the school age range to include kindergarten children.

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In 1969 she welcomed the Queen Mother to the see the school’s new science labs and dining halls. The fondness with which she was held was shown on her retirement in August 1981 when she was presented with a cake bearing 33 candles – one for each year she was at the school. On her retirement Miss McCartney returned to her native Northern Ireland and lived in Ballymena until her death.