A much-loved teacher who was knifed to death in front of pupils was just months away from retiring.
Martin Dowling, chair of governors at Corpus Christi Catholic College in Leeds, said Spanish teacher Ann Maguire, 61, was due to retire in September and had been working only four days a week.
A 15-year-old boy remains in custody after she was fatally injured at the school yesterday morning.
Speaking at a press conference outside the school, Mr Dowling said the stabbing was a “tragic but isolated incident” and there had been “no indications at all” that it would happen.
“Ann was a wonderful, dedicated teacher and will be remembered fondly by all of us,” he said.
“She had taught at Corpus Christi for 40 years and touched the lives of many people in the local community, having also taught the parents of some of our current pupils.”
Steve Mort, headteacher at Corpus Christi Catholic College said: “Our whole school community remains in shock today. Ann Maguire was a long-serving, highly regarded and much loved member of staff and our thoughts and prayers are with her family at this time. She will be sadly missed by colleagues, current and former pupils and the community as a whole. Our school is open today and we have specialist support available to students and staff if they feel that they need it, which will continue for as long as required. This has been a shocking but isolated incident and we are helping the police as they continue with their investigation.”
Detective Superintendent Simon Beldon, of West Yorkshire Police, confirmed that Mrs Maguire died from multiple stab wounds. He said the teenager will be questioned by officers “at some point during today”.
He told reporters: “Given his young age, this is a process which needs to be handled very sensitively, and may take some time to complete.
“The pupils who witnessed this incident are still being interviewed by specialist officers who are very experienced in dealing with child witnesses and will ensure that their safety is paramount.
“This is clearly an unprecedented and tragic incident which has left the school and wider community in a state of shock.”
Mrs Maguire’s death is thought to be the first time a teacher has been stabbed to death in a British classroom, and the first killing of a teacher in a school since the 1996 Dunblane massacre.
Mr Beldon, who is leading the investigation, said the forensic examination of the scene has been completed.
The school has remained open today and pupils and staff are being offered specialist support.
Mr Dowling said there was a “calm and reverent” atmosphere there today.
“The children have been absolutely amazing this morning. We’ve had assemblies, services and the children have responded in a magnificent manner, as have the staff also,” he told the press conference.
“The best way we could support our students and our staff was for us all to be together and for us to do that as a whole.”
He said it would be “very difficult” for the school to move on as Mrs Maguire was a “very popular and long-serving member of staff”.
In a statement, school head Steve Mort said: “Our whole school community remains in shock today.
“Ann Maguire was a long-serving, highly-regarded and much-loved member of staff and our thoughts and prayers are with her family at this time.
“She will be sadly missed by colleagues, current and former pupils, and the community as a whole.
“Our school is open today and we have specialist support available for students and staff if they feel that they need it, which will continue for as long as required.
“This has been a shocking but isolated incident and we are helping the police as they continue with their investigations.”
Nigel Richardson, director of children’s services at Leeds City Council, also paid tribute to Mrs Maguire.
He said: “Our thoughts and sympathies are with Ann’s family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time.
“Ann was an amazing, inspirational teacher, and a pillar of the local community and a real asset to the city of Leeds.”
Chief Inspector Nik Adams, who leads neighbourhood policing in the area, paid tribute to all the staff and pupils for coming in.
He said: “This is an horrific incident. It’s unprecedented nationally but very much in this local community it’s something which has caused a great deal of shock and distress, as you can imagine.
“This is very much an isolated incident. This is not part of a wider problem that exists locally here.”
He said the school had been found to have “absolutely no issues in terms of weapons”.