A FORMER headteacher of Kingstone High School and outspoken critic of government education policy, Lawrence Powell has died at the age of 78.

Mr Powell, known as Laurie, was appointed head teacher of Kingstone in 1978 and did battle on many occasions with the local education authority, making headlines throughout the 1980s as he consistently challenged government education policy.

Laurie Powell believed passionately that children came first and was never reluctant to speak his mind about the state of education in Herefordshire.

In 1985, he chose the school's annual prize-giving to attack the then Education Secretary, Sir Keith Joseph, saying that the education system was in a mess due to lack of resources and the bewildering rate at which changes were being demanded.

Miss Gill Haslam, head of RE at Kingstone, remembers him well: "He was a small man but he had charisma and a great sense of humour. He was keen to find every opportunity to encourage and praise the kids."

Laurie Powell was not always a teacher. His early career was spent in the Royal Navy, which he entered despite a "lack of inches" after pointing out to recruiting staff that this was something he shared with Nelson.

Following university and demob from the Navy, Laurie began his working life as an assistant company secretary until time off with a bout of pneumonia led to a change of heart and he decided to become a teacher.

Having started his teaching career in primary schools, he soon moved into secondary education, working at Plymouth's first comprehensive school. He also spent time "inside" while in Plymouth, teaching night classes at Dartmoor prison.

A move up the career ladder was responsible for bringing Laurie, wife Peggy and their three children to Hereford when he was appointed deputy headteacher of the newly opened Grafton School.

Despite spending more than 30 years in Herefordshire, Laurie and Peggy never quite left Plymouth behind.

"We were still talking about moving back," says Peggy. "We missed the sea."

The funeral service was held on Thursday, January 26, at St Paul's Church, Tupsley, at 1pm, followed by private cremation.

Mr Powell is survived by his wife Peggy, children Richard, Wendy and Andrew and five grandchildren.