One of the victims in the Reading terror attack was a teacher with a “real sense of duty” who “truly inspired everyone he taught”.
James Furlong, head of history and government and politics at The Holt School in Wokingham, was one of three people left dead after a knifeman went on a rampage in Forbury Gardens, Reading, on Saturday night.
The incident has since been described as a terrorist incident and a 25-year-old, believed to be Libyan national Khairi Saadallah, has been arrested.
In a letter shared online, The Holt School paid tribute to Mr Furlong, describing him as a “kind and gentle man” who had a “real sense of duty and cared for each and every one of our students”.
The letter continues: “He truly inspired everyone he taught through his passion for his subject and his dedication.
“He was determined that our students would develop a critical awareness of global issues and in doing so become active citizens and have a voice.”
The letter, written by co-headteachers Anne Kennedy and Katie Pearce, said lessons for Monday had been cancelled for all year groups, and counsellors would be onsite for students wishing to come to school and talk.
The local church will also be opened from 9am for people to go and light a candle in Mr Furlong’s memory.
In a statement, the heads added: “As a Holt community, we all now need to absorb this sad news. Counsellors will be available for students and staff.
“Words cannot describe our shock and sadness at this time. Our thoughts are with his mum, dad, brother and family, and his friends and colleagues.
“He was a cherished colleague and he will be sadly missed.”
Former pupils also paid tribute to the “inspirational” teacher, describing him as “the best”.
Jade Simon, a pupil at The Holt from 2012-2017, told the PA news agency: “He really was an incredible teacher.
“He was funny and kind and always made history fun and entertaining. History was always one of my favourite subjects and Mr Furlong always encouraged it.”
Keith Power, whose daughter attends The Holt School, added: “He was a wonderful man. He was so helpful and supportive of my daughter. He had a real passion for history and teaching and was so caring of his pupils.
“It’s so senseless. So much hatred in the world right now. I fear for my kid’s futures.”
Devastated to discover that James Furlong, one of the victims of the Reading stabbings, was a teacher at the Holt.
His loss is a devastating blow to his family, colleagues, students, the wider Holt family and our whole community.
Our thoughts are with them all.
— Wokingham Labour (@WokinghamLabour) June 21, 2020
Wokingham Labour tweeted: “Devastated to discover that James Furlong, one of the victims of the Reading stabbings, was a teacher at the Holt.
“His loss is a devastating blow to his family, colleagues, students, the wider Holt family and our whole community. Our thoughts are with them all.”