Chris Abbott, HMI, Headmaster, Director of Education
Chris was born in Merthyr Tydfil in 1946. As a child he lived briefly in the Drill Hall, Aberdare, where his father was based temporarily following war service. Periods in Abernant, Cwmbach and, latterly, Cwmdare followed. He transferred from Cwmbach Primary School to ABGS in 1957. After progressing to the sixth form, he went to Cardiff College of Education where he trained as a teacher. Following qualification, he taught in various primary schools in Cardiff and South Glamorgan, his last post being as Head Teacher of a large primary school in Whitchurch, Cardiff. During his time as a teacher, he served as President and, later, County Secretary of his teaching union. Through the union he was awarded a Page Scholarship which enabled him to visit America to research special education.
Whilst teaching, Chris studied part-time for his first and Masters degrees before returning to full-time education for a year to study for a post-graduate qualification in special education. In 1983, he was appointed to be one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI) of schools in Wales, then a relatively small body of 30 or so inspectors. As HMI, Chris inspected primary schools, special schools and teacher training colleges throughout Wales and, occasionally, in England and further afield. In 1994, he was appointed Staff Inspector for Nursery and Primary Education in Wales. His roles included organising the programme of nursery and primary school inspections and national surveys throughout Wales and reporting directly to Welsh Ministers and senior officials on the standards and quality of educational provision in primary schools.
In 2000, Chris left the Schools Inspectorate to join Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, initially as Head of School Improvement and subsequently as Director of Integrated Children’s Services and Director of Education. The roles covered a wide range of services for children, including fostering, adoption, advocacy, schooling and child protection. A major focus preceding his retirement in August 2010 was the reorganisation of post-16 education and training throughout the County Borough. Following consultation, work has since commenced on a multi-million pound programme to replace the existing Merthyr Tydfil College with a new state-of-the-art facility aimed at enhancing post-16 performance and boosting the life chances of young people throughout the County Borough.
Chris and his wife Catherine live on the outskirts of Swansea, on the edge of the Gower Peninsula. They have two grown up sons and three grandchildren. He had little time for hobbies before retiring, but now enjoys gardening, art and the theatre, and he has joined Pontarddulais Male Choir.
Since writing this summary of Chris Abbott’s career almost ten years ago, he has sadly died. Chris passed away at Singleton Hospital, Swansea, on 7th December 2021. His funeral took place on December 22nd at St. John’s Church, Gowerton, Swansea, followed by cremation at Llanelli Crematorium.