Ken Corsar

1st June 2012 at 01:00
The first director of education at Glasgow City Council has died at the age of 65

Ken Corsar, who died suddenly last month at the age of 65, was a quiet, unassuming man and a brilliant educationalist. He possessed a sharp critical intellect and a deep-rooted passion to improve education in the city.

His successes in education began when he was a pupil at Alloa Academy. He left there in 1964, having been awarded the Ramsay Residential Scholarship from the University of St Andrews. He gained a first-class honours degree in classics and followed that with a year as a Fulbright scholar at the University of California.

He was a west-coast man teaching classics in Dumbarton Academy, Kirkintilloch High and Uddingston Grammar before taking up a post as education officer with Strathclyde Regional Council in its Glasgow division.

In 1988, he took up post as depute director with responsibility for Renfrew division and in 1990 moved to the city to take responsibility for Glasgow division. In 1995, he became the first director of education at Glasgow City Council in the shadow year of local government reorganisation. His leadership style was appreciated by the headteachers and education staff throughout the city. His fellow directors of education also recognised his fine leadership qualities by making him the president of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES).

Ken will be remembered most for the reform of the secondary schools in the city and the introduction of the then ground-breaking PPP (public-private partnership). Closing schools in Glasgow is never easy and to describe the scale of the reform of the secondary estate as ambitious would be an understatement - reducing over 50 secondaries to 29. He is remembered fondly by his colleagues of that time as the person who always remained calm, no matter the pressure, and with a huge capacity for detail. The project remains the single largest PPP in the UK and he saw the team over the finish line.

Ken was also a great supporter of education for children with additional needs and early years - causes he continued to champion after his retirement in his capacity as chairman of NHS Lanarkshire. As chairman, he fostered links between NHS Lanarkshire and Kilbryde Hospice. He also served as the Scottish director for the National Deaf Children's Society and was an adviser for the Scottish Sensory Centre.

George Black, the current chief executive of Glasgow City Council, commented: "Ken Corsar was an exceptionally talented man. Councillors past and present had the highest regard for his intellectual capacity. He worked patiently but perceptively and had the ability to think ahead and tackle things with a new approach."

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