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Brenda Keogh - A Tribute

7 November 2013

Brenda Keogh - A Tribute

Our much-loved friend and colleague, Brenda Keogh, died recently after a brave battle with cancer. Brenda was a great supporter of ASE and an inspiration to all of those involved in primary science education.  We will miss her imaginative ideas and her unfailingly positive attitude and we extend our sympathy to Stuart and her family. 

We were delighted to receive a number of tributes to Brenda which we have placed on this page. If you would like to submit a tribute to be uploaded to this page please email

I am so grateful for the opportunity to express my thoughts about dear Brenda; thoughts which have been constantly in my head since hearing the awful news so bravely announced by Stuart. As I look round my study there is so much to remind me of Brenda and Stuart’s work. Here all the Millgate House publications; there, sitting on the couch, Jemima (or is it Jessica?) the puppet, given to me, as were many of the publications, by Brenda, one of the most generous souls one could hope to meet. Generous in every respect, with ideas, with materials, with friendship. It is such a saddening thought that these ideas and products were the output of an amazingly creative partnership, of which half is no more: Brenda and Stuart. Stuart and Brenda. Together they have been through such an ordeal in recent years, as Stuart so memorably hinted in his address at the conference dinner. Now he is left with memories and, of course, the support of thousands who have benefited from his work with Brenda. Thank you, Brenda, and thank you, Stuart, for all that you have done for Brenda and primary science. - Wynne Harlen, Former ASE President

I have so many memories of Brenda built up over 25 years of working together and friendship but can think of two that stand out – one from the early days and one from very recently. I was one of the lucky people to be in at the beginning of concept cartoons. It all started in a session at the ASE conference (where else?) where Brenda and Stuart ran a session about using cartoons in primary science. The room was packed out – all floor and wall space was taken up and the door at the back was held open to let those in corridors hear whatever they could of what was going on inside. Brenda and Stuart passed round sheets of A4 paper with very simple stick figure pictures and the now-famous speech bubbles offering different views on science ideas. The room immediately became extremely animated – everyone chatting at once and debating and discussing science concepts. My group had one on light and shadows and I can remember a clear sense of having my somewhat woolly thinking challenged and broadened. It was obvious that Brenda and Stuart were onto something that was really going to help primary teachers and their pupils. Fast forward a couple of decades or so to the present day – there isn’t a primary school in the land who hasn’t used the wonderful concept cartoons and seen their science teaching improve in leaps and bounds. What a legacy. Recently ASE was asked by DfE to propose people who could redraft the new National Curriculum for England. They suggested Brenda and me. It was a hard job with a great deal to get through in a very very short timescale. Throughout it all Brenda was a joy to work with - knowledgeable, thoughtful and extremely hard-working. She stuck at it right the way through cheerfully saying things such as ‘Oh I can do that bit tomorrow when I’ve got chemo.’ In August we were still making changes. Brenda was even checking things through when she had been admitted to hospital. Very sadly many of the changes that we made in August did not make it through to the final cut but the new curriculum is very much better than it was. Thank you so much Brenda – you gave it everything you possibly could ... and then a bit more. - Anne Goldsworthy, Primary science writer 

Just yesterday, my daughter aged 17 years told me about her plans to use a puppet to explain to primary pupils about the importance of oral hygiene. Instantly, I was reminded of wonderful workshops I'd attended at Science on Stage with "Ricky". I told her to get the pupils to talk to the that would encourage pupils to ask questions and listen attentively. Of course, the ideas were from Brenda Keogh and Stuart Naylor! Brenda, your legacy lives on. Fondly remembered and greatly admired. It was a privilege to meet you and share in your creativity. Dr Richard Spencer MBE CSciTeach CBiol