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In memory of Sir John Rowling

Sir John Rowling

LSixthform lpgs_sixthform @LSixthform

So sad to hear the news about Sir John. We are forever grateful for his inspiration. The impact that it has had on our school community cannot be summed up in a few words. Thank you Sir John; you will be greatly missed. @pixlclub @LPGSBromley

ALSnarrative ALS @ALSnarrative

A real inspiration. He always spoke so passionately and was the eternal optimist of what can be achieved, no matter what was happening politically. He has certainly helped shape my thinking over the years. Thank you Sir John 🙏

We are sad to announce that Sir John Rowling, founder of PiXL, died yesterday morning (17th January 2020) after a short illness. His vision of a ‘better future and brighter hope’ for young people will remain as we partner together to continue his work. We are grateful for all your support.


If you wish to leave any words of condolence you may do so here.

I am profoundly sad to hear of Sir John’s passing. I have been involved in PiXL since its infancy and always looked forward to hearing Sir John speak. He was charismatic, warm, wise and friendly but above all, inspiring. As a fellow northerner I appreciated his northern wit and his humanity. I had lived listening to the recently launched PiXL pearl podcasts and found them motivating and thought-provoking. So many school leaders and children have had their lives enriched by Sir John. Thank you.


It is so so difficult to adequately express the sense of loss; personally, professionally, and as a member of the wider educational community.John gave us all such strength of will and a sense of purpose. His influence has been immeasurable.
Rest in peace John.

Gary Tucker

So sad to hear this news about Sir John and taking a moment to reflect on the incredible impact he has had on so many of us, over so many years.
We were very fortunate to have a visit from Sir John to our school in the summer term and I treasure the feedback he gave to me, and to our student and school leadership teams. Thank you Sir John for your optimism, relentless belief and inspiration; you will be greatly missed.

Kirstie Andrew-Power

So very sad to hear this news. Sir John was an educational guru and master, I have not met anyone else with such drive and determination to make a difference to the lives and education of young people. To me Sir John was a huge inspiration and has he has inspired me to be determined to always stand up and fight for the changes and decisions that will be best for our young people in our academy. Thank you Sir John your incredible work will live on. You will be missed by us all.

Jessica Leonard

It sit writing this with a real sense of emotion and sadness, that someone who has touched the lives of so many people is no longer with us. In my 30 year teaching career I can point to a few people who have had a profound impact on my thinking and subsequent behaviour. You were right up there with the best. Thank you Sir John - for everything!

Russell Stevens

Sir John
You reached out to me in my moment of professional hurt and despair. Whilst, you did not personally know me, it is mark of a remarkable person that you took the time to compose an email that will never leave me.

Your work will continue, but we face a loss of a great leader, exceptional educator and a amazingly humble person.
My thoughts go to Sir John's family, close associates and all that are deeply affected by his passing.
God bless

Bryan Erwin

PiXL is always described as a family. Sir John was the father after all. He often spoke in an evangelical way, befitting of the setting we have for the main meetings. His passion was easily apparent and thousands of young people will be indebted to the inspiration he provided to their school's leaders. Sir John - thank you.

Ian Hinks

We are grateful to Sir John for so much, including his many visits to Darrick Wood when he was our PiXL Associate - he always found ways to challenge and push us further. In early PiXL meetings he seemed to know everyone's names and this continued even when the meetings grew to involve hundreds. I'll always remember going out for fish and chips with him a few years ago when he visited Bromley. How lucky I was to have spent some quality time with this truly inspirational person.

Martin Airey

Truly saddened by the news about Sir John. A leading and inspirational light, a voice of reason and morality in education when it has felt like it has been lost in other quarters of education. Really influential in my own leadership and just a really genuine, lovely man who will be greatly missed.

Tanya Kelvie

Determined and passionate about the education of all young people Sir John had the unique ability to help us all to reflect and fight forward. A voice that had the strength to make you feel empowered and the compassion to make you feel a huge amount of self worth. Your vision will live on through all of us. Thank you for your wisdom.

David Lucas

Very sad news and a loss for us all. Sir John inspired so many with his relentless drive and genuine passion to improve the life chances of young people. The energy he imparted will, I have no doubt, ensure we don't lose sight of his vision. He leaves a real and active legacy. We'll miss you.

Armando Di-Finizio

New to PiXL, I once wrote to Sir John after reading one of his Pearls, saying how much it and PiXL had inspired me. I was surprised and delighted to receive a personal email in reply from Sir John and his words left a lasting impression in renewing my determination to do the best for young people as he has done. What a wonderful legacy he has left. Thankyou Sir John.

Amanda Turner

So sad to hear of a truly great man’s passing . All great leaders make connections and so many people will have benefited from Sir John’s kindness and inspiration. My deepest sympathy to his family and colleagues who I know are devastated by his loss but he leaves a enduring legacy.

Kevin Moody

Sir John, you were one of the kindest of men, a gentleman through and through. Somebody who always made me feel encouraged, loved and valued. Your drive and passion to make a 'better future, brighter hope' is your legacy we will all now continue to grow.
I am proud to have known you Sir John. You leave a special place in all of our hearts.

Lisa Goodship

I was so very sad to hear the news of Sir John's passing. I can't tell you how inspiring I found those half- termly speeches of his - they saw me through some tough times both professionally and personally. His values of selflessness and humility set the gold standard for all of us left behind. Thank you for everything John you will be very sorely missed.

Sam Stopps

Sir John has changed so many lives in so many positive ways. His passion for making a difference in the world of education has been inspirational. Sir John, rest in peace.

Lawrence Hepner

Sir John was the last person I spoke to as I left the last Main Meeting I attended before Christmas. He smiled, gave freely of his time and listened. He was and will continue to be an inspiration to me as a new Headteacher in very challenging circumstances. He embodies our school mission of love, inspiration, empowerment and joy. Thank you Sir John

Helen Pinnington

All here in Chesterfield High (Liverpool) are very sad to hear this news. He gave our students and staff so much in his ideas and his words of encouragement. We learnt so much from him about what truly is important when educating young people. On a personal level his supportive advice and emails of encouragement will be sorely missed. Thank you so much Sir John for all you work.

Kevin Sexton

I am so saddened to hear that Sir John has died and I offer my condolences to his family. He was such an inspirational and passionate leader, ever optimistic too for the lives of our young people. It was always a privilege to hear Sir John speak to us at conference and to know that the work of PiXL could transform our schools. Sir John's legacy will live on. May he rest in peace.

Sean McQuillan

Sir John will always be thought of in the highest regard by myself and colleagues here at The Beaconsfield School. His enthusiasm for young people and indeed teachers to get the best possible outcomes to help them in life was clear for all to see. He had an energy about him that drew you into to his message. His passion for education and its power was clear for all to see an feel. My thoughts are with his family and colleagues who worked with him closely.

John Fletcher

He was patient, He was kind. He did not envy, he did not boast, he was not proud. He did not dishonour others, he was not self-seeking, he was not easily angered, he kept no record of wrongs. He did not delight in evil but rejoiced with the truth. He always protected, always trusted, always hoped, always persevered.
Gentle. Wise. Northern wit. Deeply relational. Always interested. Always had time for you. A man of faith. A man of honour. Sir John, your legacy lives on.

Phil Hawkins

A passionate advocate for young people whose optimism was infectious. A good man and a life well lived.

Peter Clift

Sir John was a true inspiration with a strong sense of moral purpose that drove him to build a national and international collaborative community of professional educators.
He is truly one of a kind and will be missed by so many people. I personally loved his enthusiasm and encouragement over many years. He will always be remembered at Cove for his support in times of trouble and inspiration when needed. God bless you Sir John

Andrew King (Cove School)

PiXL meetings have been a source of inspiration for many of the staff at Polygon School. Pupils have benefitted from the PiXL Edge and many of the suggestions from the PiXL family. We may have lost Sir John's physical presence, but his legacy will be with us for the rest of our professional and personal lives. May he rest in peace knowing that his life; his intellect, care and compassion was a gift to us all.

The Polygon School, Southampton

Sir John - Singularly and without any doubt at all the biggest inspiration and influence on my career in education. I cannot thank him enough for the clarity and lucidity he provided in the often foggy and opaque world that is education in the UK. What a speaker ! What a leader! What a person! What a privilege to have been part of the movement you started.

Jon Williets

I left every Pixl meeting feeling inspired after listening to Sir John.
Whenever I worried about my leadership style I will pick up my "String of Pearls" book and feel re-grounded. His passion, drive and optimism have kept me going! His podcasts will be more poignant in the weeks and months to come.
I will miss his wisdom, but I am reassured that the leadership of PiXL will live on for generations of school leaders.

Anne Hendon-John

Logged in this morning to read of this sad news! What a loss! Sir John's passion and vision for education was far reaching and will hopefully be continued in the PiXL legacy. I personally remain grateful and wish his loved ones my sincere condolences.

Judith Ijewere

Sir John was a genuine inspiration. His passion and enthusiasm for the task at hand, his years of experience and his statesmanlike presentation made him such a significant influence in modern education. He has kept us optimistic during some of the darkest education hours and ensured that we have remembered why we do the job we do. Best wishes to all directly affected by his passing.

Testbourne School

Sir John's unshakeable belief in our power as educators to impact on the lives of young people has truly inspired me.
Since I became a head in 2014 Sir John's passion and drive has motivated me and my staff to achieve the very best for our students.

Jon Francies

I was so saddened to hear about the passing of Sir John Rowling. He was such a visionary who ignited the fire in our bellies to do the best for each and every one of our children whatever their story. I know his legacy will live on through; children who achieve, teachers who fight for what is right and families for whom their futures are brighter than their present.

George Fraser

So sad to hear the terrible news about Sir John. He was a true inspiration to everyone. Thank you for all your hard work over the years and forward thinking.
You have helped to create a better future for so many children. Thank you Sir John. From the staff and children at Southborough Primary School.

Many of us as Senior Leaders pride ourselves on being able to speak with passion and sincerity, but I doubt any of us, having heard Sir John speak, would dare say we come anywhere close.
Sir John Rowling was a man who brought hope and inspiration to us all at a time when the profession sorely needed it.
Thank you so much Sir John for the wonderful work you have done supporting so many people and changing so many lives.

K Harrison

Very sad news. Sir John was a constant source of hope and inspiration for anyone connected with education. His sincerity, passion and above all his commitment to improving the lives of young people will be missed. The news of his passing filled me with great sadness but also a determination to continue his legacy of providing the best possible education for the young people we serve in our schools.

Helen Burrows

It is impossible to express in words the enormous impact Sir John has had on me, both as a leader and as a person. I have never met anyone who has instilled me with such a powerful desire to do the right thing for the young people and the communities we serve. I have learnt how to be a better leader and a better person simply by watching and listening to the way Sir John led us. Thank you Sir John for all you have done for all of us and all the young people whose lives you have enhanced.

John Gilligan

Such an inspirational leader. I always enjoyed listening to John speak, he had such energy and passion about improving futures for our young people. John you will be greatly missed.


So many Pearls, so much wisdom and inspiration, he influenced so many for the better and for Goodness. Always able to reach out with a personal note - even sent us an email to congratulate our small school in person one year when we improved a bit. He will be sorely missed and very much lauded. Thank you to a very great education leader.

Kate White

So sad to hear of the loss of Sir John. A great man who will be truly missed by all who knew him. Since the start of PiXL, a friend and great supporter of us all at Swakeleys School for Girls. Proud to have known him and worked with him. A great loss but a force for so much good in education over so many years!

Sue Pryor

I had the pleasure of meeting Sir John at a number of conferences over the years that we have been part of the wonderful PiXL family. He always spoke with such passion, clarity and sense - often in contrast to the official messages that teachers hear from those above them in Government. If needed, this would ignite a fire under teachers who were flagging for motivation and reassure them that they and school leaders make such a profound difference to children's lives. God bless him.

Andrew Cumpstey

I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Sir John. He is one of the few people who has had a proud impact in the life chances of thousands of young people around the UK with his pioneering work with PIXL. At Cathays High, we were lucky enough to discover PIXL in 2013 and since then we have implemented the ideas of Sir John and those inspired by him to improve the outcomes and chances of hundreds of our students.

Stuart Davies (Cathays High School)

 I still miss my termly meetings in the noughties with John. I would talk about the stresses and strains of Headship and he was a fantastic listener and helped me get through the day.


What great sadness we felt when we heard the news. A true inspiration to all involved in education and I have no doubt beyond.
Thank you for all you did. RIP

Tyldesley Primary School

I feel so sad, to say goodbye to Sir John.
A ‘better future and brighter hope’, he fought very hard to make this a reality for not only young people, but also those who worked with them. He was a true legend, a force for good in education. An inspiration to so so many, positively impacting on their lives. You only had to meet him once to appreciate that he was a very special man. Humble, genuine, kind, passionate.
I will miss you.


Sir John- a man of integrity, passion, determination and optimism. He had an extraordinary ability to enthuse and motivate others to improve the life chances of so many students.
I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to be part of the PiXL family.
He will be greatly missed.

Chris Sydenham

A few years ago I felt very despondent about teaching and considered leaving the profession. I went to a pixl meeting and listened to an inspirational speech by Sir John and came away feeling I couldn't leave, it gave me the energy I needed. He will be sadly missed.

Sophie Hesten

On a personal and professional basis I am so saddened to hear about the passing of Sir John. Personally he was kind, supportive and inspirational - a real people person, he took the time to listen and provided support. Professionally he was an inspirational advocate for children, driven to support students in the best way possible through his own career and his work with London Challenge and PiXL. His sense of humor, pragmatism and the drive he provided to PiXL will be sadly missed.

Amanda Compton

I would like to offer my sincere condolences to all of Sir John's family and close friends.
An inspirational man, John's vision and dedication to the raising of pupils' aspirations and opportunities will continue to thrive. His legacy is one which will strengthen through the years. Thank you Sir John.

Michael Kaitell

PiXL International charity owes it existence to Sir John. Hundreds of thousands of young people in some of the poorest communities in the world have been touched by his vision. Hearing of the good news of exam results in Tanzania, his message only last week was: "Absolutely wondrous what teachers and students can do with strategic guidance but above all inspiration to see a new and bright future. All those kids with new opportunities! What joy!"
A truly great and humble man.

Martin Rainsford

A remarkable man who was very inspirational. I met him several times and was struck by how genuine and caring for students he was. A great loss.

Julia Polley

Very sad to hear that Sir John has passed away. He was truly an inspiration. Because of him there are many more happier, more confident and effective leaders, well-informed, inspired and positive teachers and as a consequence probably millions of young people who have achieved their best personally and academically. What an amazing legacy for Sir John to leave.

Sarah Waterfall

We will all remember with great affection the enormous contribution that Sir John made in shaping the educational landscape for the better. May his wisdom continue to benefit our young people in the decades to come. It was a real privilege to know him.

Richard Pilgrim

Sir John was an inspirational leader, teacher and a remarkable man. His passion, drive and dedication to making a brighter future for our young people is something that I can only aspire to as a leader. Thank you Sir John.

Hugh Farringdon School

Sir John has been one of the most influential figures in my career and helped shaped my views on the impact teaching can have. His passion and love for education and teaching always shone though when he spoke. He is one of those a few special figures who’s passing leaves a real gap.


Sir John was an inspiration, always the high point of any meeting - thank you. His passion and vision for education over the years will stay with me, as will his many words of wisdom and encouragement. He leaves a very strong legacy behind, which can only continue to grow. I will miss him. My deepest condolences to his family.

Anne-Marie Anderson

To echo the words of others, it is impossible to sum up a great man in a few words. Sir John was an inspiration to so many people. He will be sorely missed but his legacy will live on.

Charlotte Ruddell

Sir John made an impact on everyone lucky enough to spend time in his orbit. He embodied the values upheld by the PiXL club of making people feel valued, loved, encouraged and equipped. His legacy will continue in the stories we tell about the difference he made. I'm equally heartbroken about the loss of this great human and hopeful about the potential that he encouraged us all to invest in. Sir John, thank you for fighting for the highest good of those you led. Love Jaz

Sir John,
Your passion for education was infectious, your drive to do what is right for the pupils was inspiring, your legacy of what you have helped to create through PiXL is evident in so many schools around the country and so many hundreds and thousands of pupils will have a better life because of it.
Rest in peace.

Phil Caslake

I am so sad to hear the news about Sir John. For members of my department and myself, he truly was always such a great inspiration. Every time I heard him speak, his passion, enthusiasm, knowledge and dedication were overwhelmingly motivational. His genuine nature and sincere messages will never be forgotten. Thanks Sir John, for all you have taught me over my career as a teacher and Head of Department....I have benefitted so much from your wisdom and am so very grateful to have worked with you.

Vanessa Pimbert

On behalf of our school community, I would like to send our deepest condolences, along with thoughts of best wishes and strength to you and Sir John’s family.

John was a huge inspiration, and I know the legacy left behind will drive the next generation of teachers and leaders to continue to improve education for the thousands of young people supported by the PiXL network.

Barnwell School

An amazing individual who I had the pleasure of meeting and working with as our Associate at Hinchingbrooke School. He really changed my philosophy and is a great loss to the world of education. His legacy lives on and we are all the better for it.
Our thoughts and love to Sir John's family (both personal and PiXL).

Anna Nightingale

Sir John kindly met myself and my deputy at Milton Keynes statistics and shortly after we had taken on a failing PRU. His understanding and passion for what we discussed was second to none. When he spoke at PiXL meetings, he was always truly inspirational - he will be sorely missed but what a legacy he has left. My sincere condolences to his family and the whole team at PiXL, certainly gone but never forgotten, with grateful thanks 🙏

Sue Kulas

The first day I came to PiXL, my overriding memory was that of Sir John; full of passion; commitment; challenge; support and inspired me to take back the PiXL message to my school.
Every visit thereafter and Sir John continued to inspire and challenge, with a conviction that all students can achieve... being the voice of those without a voice and challenging us all to take up this mantra.
When I heard the news, I was truly heartbroken... but his legacy will be present for a long time to come.


John was the epitomy of both humility and at the same time, determination. In over 40 years in education the most inspiring speaker I ever heard.
While others were driven by an egoistic race to form empires, John only cared about our kids future and the quality of education. A man of true cooperation and collaboration.
From early days together when PIXL was formed, he was always my role model and will always remain so. You were a wonderful man John. It was a privilege to have known you.

Bruce Goddard

Very sad news, a huge loss for everyone involved in education. Sir John was our PiXL associate when we first got involved several years ago. A truly inspiring man who offered us so much great advice and support over the years, simply because he cared about making a difference for the young people at our school.

Ben Jane

My first memory of John was when he came to speak to my school as part of the London Challenge and he was giving revolutionary (at the time) thoughts. The organisation that PiXL has evolved to being is one of the greatest strengths of 21st century education in Britain. The energy, positivity and relentless enthusiasm that John provided and spread to others will stand as his legacy. Thank you - your memory will live on.

Charlotte Badarello

So sad to hear about Sir John’s passing. Through PiXL he was able to share his vision and support us to make a real difference to the pupils in our school. He was a true inspiration and made a lasting impression on those who had the privilege to hear him speak. Our thoughts are with his family and everyone at PiXL.

Fitzalan High School

Very sad to hear of the loss of Sir John. Education has lost one of its champions. I only ever heard him speak at PiXL conferences and through the Pearls podcast but always found him an inspiration. Thank you Sir John.

David Maguire

So sad to hear the news about Sir John. I was lucky enough to meet and work with him at my time in Basingstoke Schools. No one can measure the impact his passion and vision has had on countless young people. A true visionary who will be sorely missed.

Jamie Perfect @ International School of Bremen

Sir John changed the life chances of the children in my school and countless other schools across the country. Coming across PiXL transformed my approached to school leadership and therefore my school. I had the pleasure of hearing him speak on a number of occasions and met him a couple of times. There was never any doubt that what he was doing was about the children in our care. It is difficult to think of another individual who has impacted so positively on education in this country.

Justin O'Sullivan

We are so sorry to hear the sad news about Sir John's passing.
Truly inspirational in everything that he has done to inspire leaders and support students especially the disadvantaged. He leaves a legacy in the PiXL club that can continue his work.
We will keep his family in our prayers.

Ellesmere Port Catholic High School

A truly inspirational leader who embodied moral purpose, his memory and legacy will last for generations! So sad to hear the news, my thoughts and good wishes go to his immediate family and to all in his extended PiXL family.
Diolch yn fawr Sir John!

Peter Harriman

Very sad to hear of Sir John passing. To hear him speak was to receive a lesson in oracy. Powerful messages delivered from the heart that served to both galvanise and motivate. Proud to be able to say I have shaken him by the hand and exchanged a few words of optimism for the future of education. Gone but not forgotten, thanks for the inspiration.

Kevin Lister

It was with great sadness to hear of the passing of Sir John. Condolences to his family from all at Cardinal Griffin Catholic College. I shared a few conversations with Sir John over the last few years while attending Main meetings over the last few years, while knowing he was unfamiliar with our School he always listened with such enthusiasm and joy to the work we were doing, as if it was his own School. Hearing him speak many, many times was an inspiration to me, will be greatly missed.

Darren Duffy

So very sad to hear this news. I had the pleasure of hearing Sir John speak at a Pixl conference and I was blown away. Afterwards, I saw Sir John in the crowded conference hall and knew that I just had to go and thank him for such an inspirational speech. He was warm, friendly, charismatic and even more inspiring. That one and only meeting continues to inspire me today. Thank you Sir John.

Julie Peet

Wise, humble and an inspirational speaker.His zest for learning and his love of life will be one of my abiding memories. His influence over thousands of Head Teachers who have had an impact over hundreds of thousands of pupils and in so doing improved their life chances is a staggering achievement. What a legacy. What a man. What memories.

Jenny Wheeldon

We are so sad to hear the passing of Sir John, he was truly an inspirational man, he has helped shaped what we do in our school and given focus to why we do it. His legacy will be there for the millions of children who are in and will enter into our education system. Thank you so much Sir John you have made our PiXL journey amazing.


I first met him in 2005, when, along with around 49 other outer London schools, we were give a small amount of money and John Rowling, a complete stranger then to us and London, to work with in order to collaborate and improve the life chances of our students. Schools in inner London in the London Challenge were give a considerable amount of money and the support of the renowned educationalist, Tim Brighouse. When funding for London Challenge ended, the small group working with John continued to meet. That group evolved into PIXL, as it is known today. In those days, school leaders met with him in the basement of London hotels; now PIXL meetings fill Central Hall Westminster and are replicated around the country. John’s oratory skills were renowned, when he often made sporting analogies, lost on some of us as you might imagine! John visited me in my previous school and motivated some underachieving Year 11s and came to my current school in my early days here. He always remembered individuals and had a way of lifting people's spirits. He sent a lovely personal message when we got our Outstanding Ofsted judgement in June 2018 which I shared with staff and governors. His caring, attentive and passionate spirt lives on in our work with young people. A huge loss.

Meryl Davies