A “brilliant teacher” with an incredible empathy for his pupils has died aged 97.

Sydney Brookfield taught maths at Southfield School, now Oxford School, from its opening in 1934 for more than 30 years. He carried on teaching privately into the 1990s, having also been tempted out of retirement to become head of maths at Radley College, near Abingdon.

Mr Brookfield, who studied maths at Oxford University, passed away last Thursday and was buried at Wolvercote Cemetery in Woodstock Road on Monday.

Former pupil, Ken Brown, 72, said: “He was absolutely brilliant as a teacher. I’ve done a bit of teaching but I couldn’t come up to his standards. He had empathy with students, and time for everybody.”

Mr Brown, who was taught by Mr Brookfield from 1947 until 1952, said he lost touch with the teacher until a school reunion many years later.

He said: “In 1997, I began organising a 50-year anniversary for the old boys. I got in touch with him and he said he’d love to come. He made a marvellous speech and everybody got on so well with him.”

“I ran a reunion every year after that and he came to all of them. I would go and visit him at his home on Woodstock Road.”

Mr Brown added: “He used to go to France a lot and he loved wine — he would go over there about three times a year.He last came to the reunion in 2002 as his health was failing, but he kept in touch and I would visit him at his nursing home in Hernes Road and take him photographs.

“His memory was amazing. I’ve never known anyone with a memory like his. He could recall any school student and he kept every copy of The Recorder, the school magazine.

“I could pick a name out of the magazine and he would talk about them. You could pick a subject and he would talk about it. His mind was absolutely sharp until the last 12 or 18 months.”

Mr Brown added: “He was Southfield. If anyone talks about the school, they talk about him.”