Last October the fifth headmaster of Southend High School sadly passed away. Edward (Ted) Morris was born on 26th December 1927 into a reasonably humble, but solid household in Liverpool, with his father being a police constable.
He must have been a focused person even at an early age he went to a very high achieving school, the Liverpool Collegiate, became head boy and passed his exams a year before the age they were normally taken.
His speciality area was languages, French and German. This became useful for his national service which started just after the 2nd world war. He was with the Intelligence Corp, stationed in Vienna, questioning Austrian troops who had been on the eastern front. He was discharged in 1952.
After that it was off to university, St. Catherine’s College, Cambridge. It must have been a big step in the 1950’s to go from Liverpool to a Cambridge college. Once there he again focused on languages and achieved an MA. I think he must have enjoyed his time at University as he always spoke about it rather proudly and with some affection. His favourite sport was always rugby and while at university he played it too, to what I think, was a high standard. It was always something he enjoyed, both playing and then later watching matches at Southend Rugby club or on television. While at university, during the holidays, he also escorted tourists around Europe perfecting his knowledge of languages and, I imagine, seeing a very different continent to how it is today. He continued to have ties to his old college and school until late in life and attended a number of reunions through the years.
In the mid 50’s he got his first teaching job at the Royal School in Wolverhampton and after that he taught at Dulwich College. Both prestigious schools. He was still ambitious and obviously, had enough self-belief and the confidence to take a major career step at this time. Probably his big break in his working life was becoming headmaster at a school in Dovercourt in 1966. He was only 35 and I think that made him the youngest headmaster in Britain.
Then in 1971 he became headmaster at Southend High School. I feel this was probably the defining role in his life where he had the experience and ability to really make a difference to the running of what is still a very prestigious school. He worked hard at Southend High School and put a lot of time and effort into ensuring its success and continuation as a grammar school. He attended so many musical events, carol services, football matches and governors meetings. There was also much time spent reviewing every single pupil’s end of year reports and preparing the time table for the next year.
During his time he was very proud to be representing the school with its high achieving pupils, dedicated staff and successful reputation. What he really enjoyed was the actual teaching and he genuinely wanted the best for his pupils. He remained teaching until he retired, which is unusual for a headmaster but he always saw it as the core of the job.
Retirement was very enjoyable with time spent in Thorpe Bay Golf club, bowls club and travel. However, he still maintained his interest in the school and took great pleasure in being invited to Old Southendians’ lunches and speaking to ex-staff and pupils.
It was the ex-pupils he was always very pleased to see when in the local area. He always remembered them and was greatly interested in how their lives had turned out.
It was very much appreciated to see so many people associated with Southend High School at his funeral, who remembered the part he played in their school lives so many years after they had left and he had retired.