Carol Adams (educator)

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Carol Adams (28 July 1948 - 11 January 2007) was an History teacher who was the first Chief Executive of the General Teaching Council for England (GTCE). She led the organisation from its foundation in 2000 until she retired just before Christmas 2006.



Born into a close working-class family in Hackney, East London, when she was 11 years old Adams won a scholarship to Christ’s Hospital Girls School in Hertford. She read history at Warwick University in the 1960s enjoying some time at the University of California in Berkeley. She studied her PGCE at the University of London, taking an MA in Human Rights at the Institute of Education in the early 80s.

Early career[edit]

Adams taught history and humanities for five years at inner London secondary schools. From 1979, she managed a resource centre for teachers for four years. In the 1980s, Adams became the country's first Inspector for Equal Opportunities at the Inner London Education Authority. When ILEA closed, she became Assistant Chief Education Officer in Haringey, North London, where she was responsible for all equality issues, working especially hard to develop the careers of black teachers. In 1990, she became Chief Education Officer in Wolverhampton, moving to Shropshire four years later.


Adams wrote books for students, including co-authoring The Gender Trap - published in three volumes in the mid-70s - which was aimed at schoolgirls and explained how sexism limited female opportunities. Adams also co-edited the Women in History series for [[Cambridge University Press]],] which brought the women's movement into the classroom. She captured the lives of medieval women, as well as life in a 19th-century silk factory. She was on the original editorial advisory board of the feminist publishing company, Virago.

General Teaching Council for England[edit]

Adams joined the GTCE as its first Chief Executive in 2000, steering its development from a fledgling council to a mature organisation. A passionate advocate for teachers and teaching, Carol made access to sustained and effective professional development a central focus of the GTCE’s work. Among the key highlights of Adams’s time at the GTCE was the launch and development of the GTCE-led Teacher Learning Academy, which offers teachers professional recognition for the learning and development that takes place in schools.

Adams continued to campaign for equality throughout her career. In every facet of her work at the GTCE she ensured that the Council focused on raising achievement for all pupils, regardless of background. In 2006, she was delighted to be appointed as a Commissioner for the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Reflecting her fervent commitment towards teachers’ professional development, equality and diversity, since 2008 the GTC has bestowed annual awards in Carol’s honour. Given to teachers who demonstrate excellence in these fields, the winners are chosen from Teaching Awards regional finalists.

Personal life[edit]

Adams was a keen jazz fan, playing the clarinet and saxophone in two jazz bands. She also enjoyed swimming, tennis, dancing and travel. She had two children, Amy and Joe.

External links[edit]