Kevin Costello

23rd September 2011 at 01:00
Gifted science teacher who boosted youngsters' uptake of physics in school dies, aged 47

Kevin Costello, principal teacher of science at Wick High, was killed instantly in a car accident near Thurso last month. He was 47.

Kevin was born in Broxburn, West Lothian, to Marie and Patrick Costello. He and his siblings, Michael, Patricia, John and his twin Kathleen, spent the next eight years in Linlithgow, where Kevin went to St Joseph's Primary. The family then moved to Grangemouth, where he attended the Sacred Heart Primary, followed by St Mungo's High.

Kevin graduated with a first in chemical physics from Edinburgh University in 1985 and followed this with a PhD entitled Laser Desorption Time-of- Flight Mass Spectrometry, also from Edinburgh University, graduating in 1991.

In the process, he won the Carnegie Scholarship. He then worked for Unilever in Port Sunlight - the model village built by the Lever Brothers in Merseyside - where his spectrometer was used to improve the cleanliness of clothes.

Kevin did his PGCE in Aberdeen, graduating in 1995 and qualifying to teach physics and his beloved chemistry. He first taught at Stewart's Melville College in Edinburgh, before moving to Wick High in 1999. He was appointed principal teacher of physics in 2004 and principal teacher of the science faculty in 2006.

In July 2001, he married Michelle Innes. They had two boys, Andrew and Euan, to whom he was devoted.

As a teacher, Kevin was respected and loved because he treated pupils with respect and compassion. A peacemaker, once a situation was resolved, he and the transgressor would move on. Kevin held, at all times, the notion of goodness in people and was unfailingly kind in thought, word and deed. As principal teacher he displayed an impressive patience in dealing with workload and colleagues.

Kevin's trust in his team and his inclusive approach facilitated all Scottish Qualifications Authority physics courses and allowed electronics and astronomy to be offered to all pupils. This led to an enormous uptake of physics.

He tackled the myriad issues in Scottish education with a relaxed and unassuming nature. His unfailing smile and his phrase - "Well, we're already doing this stuff" - were very reassuring to his faculty colleagues as yet another initiative lurched over the horizon.

It might be said that he took teaching children more seriously than education. Further promotion to depute rector was a very real possibility, but Kevin considered the time implications and took a clear decision to keep his family at the very centre of his life.

Obituaries and appreciations from contributors should be emailed to, or posted to TESS, Thistle House, 21-23 Thistle Street, Edinburgh EH2 1DF.

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