Mr Ford celebrates 50 years of teaching Maths in Oxford

Maths teacher Mr Ford
Maths teacher Mr Ford
The Maths corridor in Wainwright will be named 'Ford' block in his honour

Mr Ford worked in 3 Oxford primary/middle schools from 1973 to 2003, teaching Maths to 9-13 year olds at Wood Farm, Shepherds Hill (later became Wesley Green) and East Oxford, (which evolved into The Isis Middle School). At East Oxford he became head of Maths and wrote the Information Technology syllabus. When the middle schools were closed in 2003, Mr Ford was allocated a place at Cheney School, where he has taught 11-18 year olds for the last twenty years.

Completing his 50th year of teaching this year, Mr Ford has even returned to full-time teaching from 3 days a week, to help out with a staffing gap. He says, ‘One of the things I enjoy most about Cheney is the support that you get from colleagues.’ 

Over his 50 year career little has changed in Maths teaching, although Mr Ford explains that the profession has become as pressurised as his first job, Accountancy, with the focus on exams and Ofsted.

When Mr Ford first applied to teach for the city of Oxford back in 1973, it was not a degree profession - Mr Ford became Head of Maths at East Oxford Middle School on the strength of his Accountancy background and his three year Teacher Training Certificate from Bedford College. His first trip to Cheney, was for night school, to get his GCE Maths before going on to study for his Maths degree with the Open University (OU) in the late 70s. Mr Ford explains this as one of his great challenges; for 3 years getting up early or watching late at night the live OU broadcasts (this was before video recorders) to study for his exams, whilst teaching and being part of a family.

Acknowledging that he has a different sense of humour, that sometimes even his family don’t get, Mr Ford is most proud of how he can make a connection with children:

“I enjoy Maths and I will sell Maths very much to students. But maths is only one part of education. How they develop as a character, their personality etc. is just as important to me as them passing their exams.”

Pupils may also remember Mr Ford for his love of football. Within a month of coming to Oxford in 1973, and teaching at Wood Farm school, he was asked to become Treasurer of the Oxford Schools Football Association. The following year, Oxford got through to the English Schools trophy final, playing Manchester schools at Maine Road, Manchester City’s old ground. He played a big part in the Association over the next 30 years, also becoming Secretary, before it folded with the Middle Schools in 2003.

When asked about his best memory, Mr Ford jokes that just before he started teaching in 1973, Sunderland won the FA Cup, and for his 50th year he was hoping they might win it again this year, but that didn’t happen! He continues:

“the students that I’ve managed to inspire to become teachers, and in some cases Maths teachers, and have picked up the baton that at some point in the future I will have to lay down, is certainly a legacy that I am pleased to have left to the teaching profession”.

Headteacher, Rob Pavey says:

"Derek's contribution to education in Oxford has been outstanding. Year in, year out, he has been dedicated to his pupils and has always put their needs first. Renaming the Maths block after him seems a fitting tribute to a career of extraordinary service."

Were you ever taught by Mr Ford?
Cheney School would like to invite anyone taught by Mr Ford over his fifty year career, to join us and Mr Ford for celebratory tea and cake at the school, at 3:15pm on Friday 14th July. Please contact to let us know you are coming.