Alison Munro

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Dame Alison Munro

Born 12 February 1914
Died 2 September 2008(2008-09-02) (aged 94)
Nationality United Kingdom
Known for Headmistress of St Paul's Girls' School

Dame Alison Munro DBE (12 February 1914 – 2 September 2008) was an English civil servant and headmistress.


Munro was born in Liskeard in Cornwall but she was brought up in South Africa. Her father was a doctor and her mother was a concert pianist. It was her father's health that took the family to South Africa but following his wife's death he died months later. The four surviving children were left money and trustees to look after them. The children used the former to pay for their education and to manage the latter. In England she went to St Hilda's College to take mathematics, but she switched subjects and emerged with a first degree in PPE.[1]

In 1939 she married an RAF pilot, Ian Munro, but he was killed two years later and she was left a widow with a child. She went to work in the Air Ministry working first for Robert Watson Watt who invented RADAR. She rose through the ranks until she was an under-secretary.[2]

St Paul's Girls' School in Brook Green, London W6

In 1964 she left her civil service career to lead St Paul's Girls' School as High Mistress. This was the school that she had attended when she first returned to England as a child. The governors decided to take a risk on Munro, given reassurance by her predecessor.[1]

She was a formidable woman and it has been said that she never corrected the rumour that she had been head hunted.[1] Other sources say that she was indeed head hunted.[citation needed] She was an agent of change, as she swept away what she thought were unnecessary traditions. A large change was the abolition of the school uniform. She felt that the girls were devoting too much energy to defying school uniform requirements; as it was, they redirected their energy and their parents' money to appearing in fashionable clothes.[2]

She introduced change but it was said that greater innovations followed her departure in 1974.[1] Munro left education and spent many years leading two health authorities and then government enquiries.[1]


Munro was survived by her son, Alan, when she died in West Wittering in 2008.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Janet Gough, "Munro, Dame Alison (1914–2008)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, January 2012; online edn, May 2012; accessed 31 December 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Dame Alison Munro". Retrieved 31 December 2016.
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