Michael Barratt

27th April 2012 at 01:00
A headteacher who respected old-fashioned values and was known for getting things done

Michael Barratt, former headteacher of Rannoch School in Perthshire, died last month aged 71.

Michael was brought up in Edinburgh and read English at the University of St Andrews, playing rugby for the 1st XV and developing a lifelong love of mountaineering and golf.

Ignoring advice to become an Edinburgh lawyer, he obtained his diploma of education at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, taking up his first post at Epsom College, Surrey. For 10 years he was housemaster at Strathallan, before his appointment in 1982 as head of Rannoch School where he served until his retirement 15 years later.

Michael adhered to and respected in others such old-fashioned virtues as straight talking, decency, courtesy and loyalty. A supportive, charismatic headteacher with a sure touch, he could take tough decisions and get things done. From his previous housemastership at Strathallan, he brought an understanding of the central need in a boarding school to create an environment in which firm, encouraging pastoral care allows young people to thrive and to strive to be the best they can be, both academically and as rounded people.

Within hours of his death being announced on Facebook, former pupils and parents, staff and governors, had posted such eloquent tributes to their former headmaster that anyone reading them who did not know him, would recognise that here was a remarkable man. One former pupil posted: "A great man, almost impossible to beat on the golf course and the last of a generation who could carry off a very fine tweed suit." Another wrote: "He had an uncanny ability to see the best in the worst of us ."

Michael and his wife Valerie's warmth and energies nourished the school to a remarkable growth during their 15 years' leadership. Among his many achievements was the conversion of the boys' school to full co- education.

He was proud of Valerie's contribution in making Rannoch one of the most active schools in the international Round Square movement, based on the principles of Kurt Hahn. This gave the school a vision beyond these shores of promoting greater tolerance and understanding among young people, challenged them in the surrounding hills and lochs, and developed effective rescue services to support the local community. He welcomed the Duke of Edinburgh to the school's 25th anniversary celebrations and guided the school to become a national leader in the DofE award scheme, achieving more golds than any other UK school.

Michael Barratt personified honesty, humour, humility and humanity. They are also the qualities that the traditional schoolmaster sowed and developed in the hearts of the boys and girls who attended Rannoch.

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