As her union meets in its annual conference, we join in paying tribute to Mary Compton, whose passing “robbed us of someone who worked with passion and far-sightedness to make the world one better place,” as Ian Murch, Treasurer of the National Union of Teachers, has written.

In an obituary both personal and political, he explains what made Mary a singular figure to so many.

Mary, a secondary school teacher of modern languages, was active in the NUT throughout her time in teaching. She taught for most of her career at John Beddoes School in Presteigne, which served the community in which she lived. She was the Secretary of the Radnor Association (for 30 years) and of the Powys Division. After being an Executive Member for Wales, she became a National Officer of the NUT in 2002, and served as President in 2004-5. At the time of her death, Mary was a Trustee of the Union.
Mary saw injustice as something to be tackled, not just complained about. In Wales and in England she thought about what needed to be done, committed herself and recruited others to the cause. She made many memorable contributions to campaigns in both countries. In her home area of Powys she led marches, lobbies and a strike against school closures as recently as 2015/2016.


Mary was the architect of the Global Education Reform Conference held in 2014 that was the catalyst for the NUT’s system of International Solidarity Officers. Her illness prevented her attending the NUT’s recent delegation to Mexico, which she had asked us to organize in solidarity with harassed and persecuted teacher trade unionists there, but she was keen to hear the outcomes.
Mary was a founder member of the Campaign For A Democratic and Fighting Union, and spoke at its meetings and contributed to its Bulletin throughout her time in the NUT. Many will remember passionate speeches she made at our Union conferences.
Mary, herself a lovely person with no edge or self-importance, leaves behind a wonderful family – her husband Hugh Pope, and her children Clarrie, Helen, Blanche and Faith – known to many of us in the NUT/NEU. Hundreds of people attended her funeral in Presteigne, where she had for many years written town pantomimes with a satirical bent, with titles like Les Mouserables and An American In Powys.

As tributes to the founder of this site, Mary Compton, continue,  we remind readers that they can continue the work to which Mary devoted herself by to maintain this website and by sending us stories of teacher, student, and community resistance to the "reforms" that are denying children globally an opportunity to have a free, quality education.