Liverpool’s first Black headteacher on her inspirational career

Liverpool’s first Black headteacher, Gloria Hyatt MBE, who set up an ‘outstanding’ academy in Toxteth working with high achieving youngsters and those at risk of educational exclusion was inspired into education herself as a child by a primary teacher who she said “made me think I could be like her.”

Gloria set up the Elimu Academy in Liverpool 8 in 1993, making her the city’s first Black headteacher.

Prior to that she had worked at schools across Liverpool, after training for a degree and masters in education at the city’s universities.

Now working as an educator and consultant, providing coaching and training to individuals and companies across the UK, Gloria has taken her passion for education and made history, inspiring generations of young people and professionals to achieve their potential.

As a child, Gloria ended up in foster care, and she told the ECHO: “I was born in L8 and I actually went through the care system, it was typical for many families at the time in my situation, born with a white Irish mother and Black Jamaican father – it was a very typical thing that happened that children would end up in the care system.

a close up of a woman who is smiling and looking at the camera: Gloria Hyatt MBE

© Dan Kenyon
Gloria Hyatt MBE

“I used to make a joke that I was the only Black person in the village and I remember coming back into Toxteth as a teenager and saying to my friend, ‘look at all these Black people’ – I couldn’t believe it.

“So in many ways my experience has been different because being in the care system I would be moving a lot around middle class white areas.”

At just nine years old, Gloria decided upon a career path which would not only shape her life but lead her to make history in Liverpool.

She said: “I decided aged nine to be a teacher. It was not a grandiose idea of changing the world, it was because my PE teacher had a sports car and I loved it. She was dead kind and gave me my first chocolate orange.

“The kindness of a trendy teacher with a nice car and a nice home who took an interest in me made me think I’d like to be like her.”

As a teenager, Gloria excelled at athletics, appearing on the front page of the ECHO in 1978 after becoming Merseyside sprinting champion.

When she left school, Gloria decided to take up teacher training to become a PE and English teacher, although while training for her degree she came up against challenges including institutional racism. She says she was spurred on by colleagues who backed her and supported her and she completed her studies.

Going to work in tough city comprehensives, Gloria was determined not to shy away from the most challenging of school environments.

In 1998, she became involved with the Elimu. Set up in 1979, the Elimu had been a library resource at the Methodist centre on Princes Avenue, with Wally Brown, former head of Liverpool Community College