Gareth Jones was Principal at Ormiston Meridian Academy and chair of the Stoke-on-Trent English Excellence Hub.
His teaching career spanned more than four decades, during which he helped turnaround a host of struggling schools, impacting the lives of tens of thousands of students across Staffordshire, Cheshire, and Derbyshire.
Gareth began his career as a Geography teacher at Watlands Secondary Modern School, which eventually became The Orme Academy in 2020. In 1978, Gareth joined Blurton High School, which later became Ormiston Sir Stanley Matthews Academy (OSSMA). Alongside Geography, he taught Business Studies and had a keen interest in PE. He took part in the school plays and organised countless trips, taking pupils to play football in several European countries, to the First World War battlefields in Belgium and France, and on business studies trips to London. He built a reputation as a talented and passionate teacher and leader.
After 25 years, he was recruited to become Deputy Head at Victoria Community Technology School, which later became Sir William Stanier School, in Crewe. Tasked with getting the school through a difficult period, he spent seven years there, proving himself as a highly effective trouble-shooter. He would later do the same for Ormiston Ilkeston Enterprise Academy (OIEA) and Sandon High School, in between periods at OSSMA, where he served as Vice Principal. Gareth then became Principal at Ormiston Meridian Academy where, alongside leading the school, he spent weekends supporting students with their Duke of Edinburgh Awards.
Gareth took semi-retirement in 2019 but was still involved in teaching in Stoke-on-Trent. He became Chair of the city’s English Excellence Project (EEP), which was funded by the Stoke-on-Trent Opportunity Area. The EEP was launched to support pupils not in school during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping them catch up on lost learning in exciting and innovative ways.
In March 2020, Gareth passed away after contracting COVID-19. In the wake of his passing, thousands of messages of support from former pupils and colleagues poured in for Gareth’s wife, Lynn Jones MBE, his two daughters, and grandson. The EEP established the Gareth Jones Award for Excellence, which is now in its second year, Gareth’s beloved Port Vale Football Club set-up the Be VALIANT Project in his name to help disadvantaged children, and Ormiston Academies launched a prestigious community award in his name, given every year to staff who excel in this area.
The Award of Honorary Doctor of Staffordshire University is bestowed upon Gareth for his outstanding contribution to education across Stoke-on-Trent and the wider region during his more than 40-year long teaching career.