Andrew M. Blake

28th September 2012 at 01:00
A leader and mathematician who was also a great thinker, innovator and delegator

Drew, as he was universally known, died last month of cancer, aged 74. He was educated at Kilmarnock Academy, going on to gain an honours degree in physics at the University of Glasgow, followed by teacher training at Jordanhill College.

He taught maths at Kilmarnock Academy, Rothesay Academy, Jordanhill College and Oban High. His Dumfries and Galloway career began with a depute's post at Douglas Ewart High, followed by headship at Langholm Academy and then Lockerbie Academy.

Drew was prominent in the Church of Scotland, serving on the education committee for many years. He was also a senior figure in the Headteachers' Association of Scotland (now School Leaders Scotland) and represented the association at many national events.

He was a thinker, an innovator and a great delegator. The day-to-day running of Lockerbie was left to his management team while he pursued initiatives to put the school on the educational map. He was instrumental in setting up a 16+ network between Langholm, Lockerbie and Moffat schools - an idea way before its time.

The school was the second in Scotland to achieve Investors in People status and the only state school to teach the International Baccalaureate in the early 1990s; his legacy is that the school still retains IIP status and, from the IB, links with international schools for student exchanges which continue in the present day as students from Finland, Italy, Norway and Scotland come together for a week-long student conference in one of the host countries.

The only big idea of Drew's that did not come to fruition was the establishment of a continuing education network - a vision he shared with the late Bill Fordyce, director of education. The concept was to have schools open in the evenings for adults to access education; it was partially successful in that some adults did return to school to join mainstream classes, but only if they were able to do so during the regular school day.

Following the Lockerbie air disaster, Drew forged links with Syracuse University in New York State, which lost 35 students on board the plane. This led to the creation of the Syracuse scholarship, which offers two senior pupils the chance to study for a year at the university, all expenses paid. Forty-eight young people have benefited from this to date, with several choosing to stay and graduate from Syracuse. The links with the university are stronger than ever as we approach the 25th anniversary of the disaster and many lasting friendships have been formed between staff and students over the years. This was probably Drew's greatest achievement and one that has been life-changing for the scholars.

He leaves behind his wife Marie, a former primary teacher, and two sons, Roger and Gavin.

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