“The one on whom the robe of Montessori should fall to carry on the living tradition”
– William J Codd, Professor of Education, Seattle University, when speaking of Phyllis Wallbank. –
Phyllis Wallbank is a recipient of the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE.), as bestowed upon her by Queen Elizabeth II, and was decorated by Pope John Paul II with the Benemerenti Medal in 1996.
Phyllis Wallbank was only 18 years old and training to become a Froebel teacher when she first started to become frustrated with the traditional education system in the UK. It was while she was working as a children’s probation officer that she began to believe that the levels of delinquency in the country could be drastically reduced through a more personalised and child-centric system of teaching.
It’s no wonder, then, that she sought out Dr. Maria Montessori and became first her pupil and then her friend and one of her most ardent advocates.
At Maria Montessori’s request, Phyllis Wallbank began to lecture and examine for her. She travelled all over Europe to give lectures on Montessori, and advanced Montessori courses and also lectured for the AMI (Association Montessori Internationale).
Additional achievements include serving as the chairperson of the Montessori Association in England, and as Vice-President of the AMI. She wrote a correspondence course for The College of Modern Montessori, which, so far, boasts over 10,000 students in over 80 countries. Wallbank also opened her own school, The Gatehouse Montessori School, in London. It has been placed in The Phyllis Wallbank Trust, to ensure that it and her educational ideas would survive in perpetuity. At the age of 90 years old, Phyllis embarked on a world tour, visiting China, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and the USA.
Phyllis Wallbank’s lifelong contribution to Montessori Teaching, Montessori Training, and Montessori as a whole are a legacy and a gift to children throughout the world. Wallbank is now gracefully retired and lives in her home near Windsor.