It was with immense sadness that we heard about the death of Dame Tessa Jowell over the weekend. Tessa served our local constituency of Dulwich and West Norwood from 1992 to 2015 and was instrumental in the foundation of The Charter School.
When, in the absence of a local state option, a group of parents launched a campaign in 1998 to open a new state secondary school to serve the communities of Dulwich and Herne Hill, Tessa Jowell quickly took up their cause. Drawing on the rights set out in the Citizen's Charter, local parents wanted to create a non-selective, co-educational school founded on the principles of inclusion and community, and focused on securing excellent outcomes for all pupils - no matter what their backgrounds or starting points.
Working publicly and behind the scenes with other stakeholders, Tessa was a committed and tireless advocate and champion of the campaign that led to creation of The Charter School in 2000. Over the years her commitment to the school remained constant: from attending the official opening of the school, with then Prime Minister Tony Blair, to visiting the school on many occasions over the past 18 years to work with pupils and staff. Tessa remained deeply engaged with, and very proud of, The Charter School's strive for excellence.
In 2014, Tessa again came to the fore, providing guidance, advice and advocacy to governors and the leadership of The Charter School in the ultimately successful efforts to create The Charter School East Dulwich, which now serves the communities of East Dulwich and South Camberwell. She has been an inspiration to trustees, governors, pupils, staff and parents - all of whom will have been deeply saddened by the loss of such a special friend to the Charter family.
Prof Derek Hill, Chair of The Charter Schools Educational Trust stated, "We will remain eternally grateful for Tessa's support and championing of The Charter family as we continue to take forward her commitment to our values of inclusion, community and excellence. Our condolences go to Tessa’s family."