Stabbed teacher who died of multiple stab wounds was due to retire in September
Published 29/04/2014 | 09:08
A MUCH-LOVED teacher who was stabbed to death in front of her pupils will be remembered today at the church connected to the school where she taught for more than 40 years.
The respected teacher was due to retire in September, but died tragically due to multiple stab wounds.
A 15-year-old boy remains in custody following the death of Spanish teacher Anne Maguire, 61, at Corpus Christi Catholic College in Leeds yesterday. Anne was married to Irishman Donald Maguire, a retired teacher.
The school is open as normal today and children began arriving early to add tributes to the more than 200 bouquets of flowers that now cover the railings outside the gates.
Mrs Maguire's death is thought to be the first time a teacher has been fatally stabbed in a British classroom, and the first killing of a teacher in a school since the 1996 Dunblane massacre.
Fr Martin Moran, from Coleraine in Co Derry, who knew Mrs Maguire from his time as Chaplain in the school, said: "Often people say only positive things when someone has died – but in her case that genuinely is the truth. She really was a remarkable woman.
"She was a fantastic teacher. But also pastorally she was second to none. She was an incredible woman and really well-loved by generations of pupils at the school."
Outside the school today, Monsignor Paul Fisher, from the next-door Corpus Christi Catholic Church, said Mrs Maguire would be remembered at a normal morning service later.
Hundreds of pupils, former students and their parents packed the church last night to pay their respects and light candles.
Monsignor Fisher said: "It's obviously a very difficult time. We're having our normal service this morning and obviously we're going to be remembering her.
"Our administrator is in the school now, offering what support we can to the staff and the students.
"What you see here is everybody helping each other - the community and the school coming together.
"I think you see from the tributes that have been paid what an impact she had on this school."
Children leaving the school yesterday said Mrs Maguire was attacked as she taught a routine Year 11 Spanish class in the Modern Languages block.
Some pupils reported hearing screams as other members of staff rushed to the scene and restrained her attacker before police arrived.
Police officers continued to guard the gates this morning as children streamed into school past the tributes, many stopping to lay more flowers.
All of the youngsters described Mrs Maguire as an inspirational teacher who went out of her way to help students.
She had taught at the school since she was a student teacher and last year celebrated 40 years at Corpus Christi.
British Prime Minister David Cameron led the tributes last night, saying: "This is a profoundly shocking, indeed absolutely appalling, incident.
"All our thoughts are with the teacher's family, with the school and all the pupils who study there. Everything that can be done to help this school get to the bottom of what happened will be done. I think that we have to wait for the investigation to see what exactly happened."
Yesterday Katie Gallagher, 15, said she was in a nearby room when Mrs Maguire was stabbed.
She said: "I heard her scream. I was in a meeting at the time but I heard it."
She said everyone in her class burst into tears when they were told about the teacher's death.
Peter Masefield, 18, said: "I just can't understand why her. Of all people. She was the school's figurehead."
Georgina Kilroy, 16, said: "I don't know anyone who didn't like her. She was spot on. You couldn't ask for a better teacher."
Georgina said her teacher broke down when she told the children the news. She said they were told earlier that a teacher had gone to hospital but lessons continued.
Laying flowers, former pupil Aine Arnold, 17, said: "It's more like losing a family member than losing a teacher.
"She was just lovely. She was wonderful. I am devastated."
Nichola Davies, 34, broke down as she tried to explain why she had driven 40 miles from Goole, East Yorkshire, to pay her respects.
Mrs Davies, who left the school in 1996, said: "She was just amazing. She was such an incredible lady. It's just so heartbreaking, it really is."
Mrs Maguire lived in the Moortown area of Leeds with her Irish husband Donald, who is believed to be a retired maths teacher. She is understood to have two grown-up daughters.
She was head of year 11 at the school for more than 10 years.
There are nearly 1,000 pupils on the roll at Corpus Christi, aged between 11 and 16, according to the school's website.
Parents speaking outside the school last night said it had a very good reputation and, despite being located in a challenging area, families competed to send their children there.
When it was last inspected by Ofsted, it was rated good with many outstanding features.
The inspectors said: "Students, parents, carers and staff are rightly proud of this harmonious and caring school which has embedded itself in the very heart of the community."
A neighbour of the 15-year-old under arrest told the Daily Mirror the teenager was "a bit of a loner".
Rebecca Hardy, 21, said: "His mum is very nice. They are a quiet family. The boys are both extremely quiet. If you said hello to them, they would probably not say hello back."
Jacob Hill, 16, a pupil at the school, described him as "very bright".
A delegation of officials from Leeds City Council arrived at the school, saying they were there to offer whatever support was necessary.
Tom Riordon, the authority's chief executive, said: "We're here to pay our respects to a wonderful teacher on behalf of the members and officers of Leeds City Council.
"We're about to go in and see people in the school and show our support."
Judith Blake, the council's executive member for children's services, said she supported the school's decision to open and insisted it was safe.
She said: "This is a very tragic incident. They have someone in custody; there is no risk coming to the school today. The school is safe."