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Obituary: Peter Arnold-Craft.

WITH a steadfast spirit, and a love of learning and sport, the teacher turned his school into a place of excellence, proud to see its pupils passing into Oxford and Cambridge.

But there was a political threat from outside to crush all that had been achieved. Again, Peter Arnold-Craft met the challenge, ensuring that the Liverpool Blue Coat School would continue in the city it had served since 1708.

And the legacy lives with the thousands of men who stand high to say they were old boys of his school.

Arnold-Craft was born in Nunnington, North Yorkshire. His parents were teachers. From school he advanced to Brasenose College, Oxford, where his studies were interrupted by war service as a flight lieutenant with the RAF. On his return, he gained a first class honours degree in history and won a tennis Blue.

Teaching posts followed and he became headmaster at Gravesend Grammar School, Kent, which he left after five years in 1968 to take up his post as headmaster of Blue Coat School.

His ambitions for the school were pursued with determination and zeal, and in 1970 the first Blue Coat boy won a place at Oxford. It opened the way. In 1979, fifteen boys entered Oxbridge. In 1982, four teeen Oxbridge places were offered to Blue Coat pupils, including four open awards on the Oxbridge listing system. However, two years later, the Militantdominated Liverpool City Council tried to close Blue Coat by issuing a ``cease to maintain'' order, withdrawing finance from the school.

Arnold-Craft replied vigorously by forming an action committee of parents, past parents, old boys and friends. There were 32, 596 objections to the council's proposals, and the late Sir Keith Joseph, then the education secretary, overturned the order. The school survived.

In 1985, its football team became champions of England, as did the under-15s basketball team.

There will be a memorial service for Arnold-Craft, who retired in 1989, in the school chapel at a date to be announced.

He retired to North Yorkshire and is survived by his wife, Nancy, and two daughters.

Peter Arnold-Craft JP, teacher, born January 8, 1926; died July 11, 2004
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Title Annotation:Comment
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 16, 2004
Words:358
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