A valued pioneer

4th March 2005 at 00:00
Leading figures in schools ICT in the UK over the past 25 years gathered at BETT 2005 in January to commemorate and celebrate the work of Richard Fothergill who was killed, with his wife Angela, in a road accident in Jordan last year.

Richard was director of the government's Microelectronics Education Programme for England, Wales and Northern Ireland from 1980 to 1986. He is recognised as a founder of the ICT in schools movement and a philosophical progenitor of the schools ICT industry and the diverse education community apparent at BETT.

Senior educationists and civil servants, academics and researchers, software company directors, advisers and consultants spoke eloquently of the impact MEP, as a government programme, had on the introduction of computers and microelectronics to the school curriculum. And also of the profound influence Richard had on their professional lives, visions, beliefs and leadership styles.

Former head of biology at West Ham Technical School, London, Richard taught youngsters who were not particularly academic, but who responded well to resources that did not rely on the printed word. When he moved to Newcastle Polytechnic he authored, with Ian Butchart, two seminal texts on non-book materials.

A master of decentralised and distributed models of leadership and management long before they became fashionable, Richard had an instinctive and accurate sense of the implications for pedagogy and the curriculum of what he saw as the "all-pervasive nature" of technology. He was a visionary, an effective community-builder, and, when necessary, a rule-breaker. He inspired today's innovators, opinion-formers and decision-makers.

Alison, the eldest of Richard's three daughters, spoke movingly on behalf of her sisters about her parents' influences on their own lives.

Much of Richard's innovative approaches to teaching and learning, powerfully enabled by technology, still influence teachers 25 years on.

John Anderson John Anderson, former MEP deputy director, is now education technology strategist at the Department of Education in Northern Ireland and a Becta consultant.

Photo tribute to Richard at http:intuitivemedia.comcj.html

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