Arthur Lenagh

2nd March 2012 at 00:00
The headteacher of a leading primary school during the age of the 11- plus has died

Arthur Lenagh was the headteacher of one of the highest-achieving primary schools in Scotland during the 11-plus era, St Patrick's Primary in Dumbarton.

He also served as a Justice of the Peace in Lanarkshire and in Argyll and Bute.

He was appointed to St Patrick's in 1969 when it was still in McLean Place, next to the eponymous parish church in Dumbarton town centre, taking over from Sister Julie Marie, a Notre Dame nun whose primary teaching achievements were legendary in Scottish education circles.

The school was one of the highest-achieving primaries in Scotland, based on the number of A passes achieved by its pupils in the 11-plus examinations.

Misgivings were expressed by many St Patrick's parents and some councillors about the replacement of the nuns by lay teachers, and the Sisters of Notre Dame were a hard act for Arthur Lenagh to follow.

But follow it he did - in his own quiet way, and with considerable distinction, always immaculately dressed and wearing every day the same school tie as his pupils.

His first task was to supervise the move from McLean Place to the present building, which was officially opened by Cardinal Thomas Winning in Crosslet Road, Dumbarton, in 1973.

Over the years, he implemented many changes to the school curriculum in numeracy and literacy, preparing pupils for comprehensive education, which had recently been introduced in secondaries.

In 1983, the school was commended by the Saltire Society for a project on the Life of St Patrick, on which Mr Lenagh, his staff and pupils collaborated with the distinguished Scottish craftsman and designer, Willie Rodger.

Mr Lenagh, who was born in Calderbank in Lanarkshire, attended the University of Glasgow and Jordanhill College of Education. He served on the staff of St Bartholomew's Primary in Townhead, Coatbridge, for 13 years, six of them as depute headteacher, and organised school camps for needy children in the area.

During his time in Lanarkshire, Mr Lenagh was a senior magistrate on the bench of the Justice of the Peace Court.

A prominent member of the Labour Party, from which he drifted away in his latter years, he was convener of the children's committee, convener of roads and bridges and convener of direct works on Lanarkshire County Council.

He was a lifelong member and supporter of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and last year was once again in the congregation at its Easter service outside the gates of the Clyde Naval Base at Faslane on the Gareloch. He also campaigned for a Scottish Parliament for many years with Canon Kenyon Wright.

An intensely private man who never married, Mr Lenagh kept his personal affairs, including his age and date of birth, a closely- guarded secret right up to his death.

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