Frederick Williams Rendell

4th March 2011 at 00:00
Pioneering teacher helped to develop the Storyline method for Scotland's primary pupils

Frederick Williams Rendell, one of the architects of the Storyline method of inter- disciplinary teaching in primary schools, has died at the age of 79 after a long illness with Lewy body dementia.

Born in Scotstoun, Fred joined the RAF as a navigator in 1950 and graduated with an MA in education from Glasgow University in 1957.

His first teaching post was at St George's Road Junior Secondary where his talent was spotted by Gordon Rae, then head of the geography department at Jordanhill College. At his encouragement, Fred joined the staff of the college in 1963.

1965 saw the publication of the Primary Memorandum, which set out a new structure for the curriculum in Scottish primary schools. John A Smith, vice-principal, set up a team to implement its recommendations. Fred became the leader of the in-service staff tutor team, which ran courses in every division of the former Strathclyde region from the mid-1960s to the late 1980s.

Fred was a highly imaginative teacher and an inspirational team leader. A primary teacher summed up the team's qualities admirably when she remarked: "From leaving college, there was no support for servicing classroom teachers from anybody . and the topics that the team gave under the Storylineactivity model were an inspiration to us. They rekindled our enthusiasm for the job."

Four-day interdisciplinary courses were followed by one-day debriefing sessions for teachers. On one of these, a P6 teacher at a school where pupils "bunking off" was an issue, gave the supreme accolade. He said that when the topic was being done in the afternoons, there was full attendance: "The children found that their learning was more interesting, more informative and more fun than staying off school."

Fred had a wonderful capacity for getting people involved in activity, discussion and problem-solving. This was due to his first-class thinking qualities, coupled with his skill in projecting himself into the feelings of others.

Concern for teachers and children dominated his work. He understood their problems and helped them to work out their own solutions. He was always positive and constructive in his advice; he led by example, never asking others to do what he could not or would not do himself.

When Fred retired in 1987, Dr Tom Bone, then principal of Jordanhill College, described him as "perhaps the most respected teacher in the west of Scotland".

As recently as 4 November, Glasgow SNP MSP Sandra White raised a motion in the Scottish Parliament, calling on it to recognise the international success of the Storyline Scotland method which Fred, along with his colleagues, developed.

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