McColgan Doro


Dorothea McColgan (also known as Lerner and Flatto)

Born in Dresden, Germany, into a Jewish family that emigrated to Britain when she was two years old, Doro Flatto grew up in north London, attending Tottenham high school for girls and displaying a talent for piano playing that took her to the Royal Academy of Music.

She joined the Young Communist League at a young age.

An early marriage to Michael Lerner, who himself had been forced to leave Poland in his teens in the mid-1930s, produced her only child.

She subsequently experienced an exceptionally happy second marriage, to a college lecturer, Barry McColgan, from 1963 until his death in 2001.

She stayed in the party for many years and was no stranger to controversy. She was backed by a strike of 86 Islington teachers in a one-day protest in September 1973, and even got the backing of parents, when, after twenty years as a local teacher, she was victimised for her anti-authoritarian views. The Inner London Education Authority 'transferred' her into a supply teachers’ pool although she was very popular at the school she taught in.

She hit national newspaper headlines as one of a group of teachers vilified in the William Tyndale school dispute in Islington, north London. Dorothy and her colleagues were dismissed following conflict with the Inner London Education Authority due to their defence of progressive educational principles in a state school.

Effectively forced out of primary school teaching, Dorothy later flourished as a piano teacher.

In retirement, she was an active participant in the Older Feminist Network. Dorothy loved the arts – especially music, film and theatre – and maintained her strong socialist convictions throughout her life even to her death at the age of 90. Her daughter tells, in an obituary, how she clenched her fist in the air and uttered a triumphant "yes!" in agreement with a newspaper article read to her that attacked the coalition government's strategy against so-called scroungers and its leniency with tax avoiders.

Source: Guardian 2nd January 2013; CPGB archives;

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