Alumni Services

Patricia Hiddleston

Patricia Hiddleston has spent her professional life working in education and has been honoured by the Institute of Mathematics for life services to maths education.

Name Patricia Jessie Gunn Hiddleston (nee Wallace)
Degree Course MA Hons Mathematics and Natural Philosophy
Year of Graduation 1956
Patricia Hiddleston

Your time at the University

I chose to study at the University of Edinburgh because of its reputation for maths and science.

The Applied Maths department had some excellent academics from Europe, and Pure Maths had Professor Aitken from New Zealand who was internationally respected.

It was a field dominated by men, and there were very few female students. I was the only woman in the final Honours class of about 16 students, and was also awarded the Napier Medal.

Edinburgh was a great place to live if you had just arrived from a small town. I enjoyed the good theatre and the chance to meet people from all over the world. I just loved living there.

Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University

I am an international education consultant and work all over the world. In the past I taught mathematics and was a school head teacher, and university lecturer. Now I travel helping countries upgrade their curricula, develop their textbooks and organise teacher training programmes, mainly in mathematics education.


I have worked since 1958 in twenty countries overseas - Nepal, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Ghana, Georgia, Egypt, Bosnia Herzegovina, Iraq, Tanzania, Bhutan, Ethiopia, Somaliland and Zambia.

Patricia Hiddleston

The longest time spent in any one country was Zambia where I started working in 1958 when it was still Northern Rhodesia. My husband and I taught at the only government secondary school in the country, Munali. This was a school for boys in what was called African Education. African Education was the responsibility of the United Kingdom Colonial Office while the other, European Education, was the responsibility of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. At Munali there were about 500 boys who had been selected from all over the country and it was run like an English boarding school. The pupils sat A level exams and went on to universities in Southern Rhodesia, South Africa or the UK.

As my husband was in the Colonial Service we had long leave every three years and were posted to a new job on each return. After Munali I had a time lecturing at a Teachers’ Training College near Lusaka called Chalimbana, followed by teaching at a new secondary school in Ndola and finally was appointed as the first member of the academic staff of the new University of Zambia. I lectured there in pure mathematics for five years from 1965-1970. During our time we saw the transition of Northern Rhodesia from being a colony to becoming the independent state of Zambia. We returned to Scotland in 1970 for the education of our children.

I find my work satisfying and rewarding, and I really enjoy the opportunity to be of use, as well as seeing other countries and meeting a wide range of people.

Patricia Hiddleston

After some time in Scotland, where I was Headmistress of St. Margaret’s School in Edinburgh, I moved back to Africa, first as Principal of Durban Girls’ College in South Africa and then to the University of Malawi in Zomba.

The seven years in Malawi from 1989-96 were very happy and rewarding. The University had excellent staff, mainly local Malawians and a few expats. I was employed initially by DfID and then by the Government of Malawi and worked with two first class Malawian women who after graduating themselves from the University of Malawi have obtained first their Masters degrees and then their PhD degrees with grants from the British Council and the Commonwealth Office.

Since 1996 I have been working as an independent education consultant and have had various jobs all over the world. I usually work in the local Ministry of Education with a local expert or a team of experts. I visit schools and training colleges and talk with teachers and students.

At the moment I am working in Namibia for a French company on Textbook Utilisation. This project is funded by an American agency. When it finishes at the end of June I return to work in Ghana where I am helping to edit a distance learning programme which is targeting unqualified primary teachers to help them become qualified. This project is funded by DfID.

I find my work satisfying and rewarding, and I really enjoy the opportunity to be of use, as well as seeing other countries and meeting a wide range of people.

Alumni wisdom

Be proud of being at the University of Edinburgh - it has a great worldwide reputation.