26th June 2009 at 01:00
Ray Bailey, former principal of Cardonald College in Glasgow, has died aged 74.

Ray Bailey, former principal of Cardonald College in Glasgow, has died aged 74.

While a student at night school, in the 1950s, the Glasgow-born former RAF radar technician began the first chapter of a long and illustrious career in education, which would later herald a visionary revolution in further education in Scotland.

In 1960, he returned to the classroom, but this time as a lecturer in the department of electrical engineering at Glasgow's Stow College. A believer in second-chance learning, he achieved his chartered engineer qualification in 1966 through part-time study, and was later recognised as an elected honorary member of the City and Guilds of London Institute.

In 1970, he moved to Cardonald College, progressing from senior lecturer to head of engineering in 1981. His influence gathered momentum and, three years later, he was appointed development officer (electrical engineering) for the Government's action plan.

The result was the introduction of National Certificate modules, signalling a landmark that would change the face of non-advanced FE in Scotland.

He was appointed deputy principal of the college in 1984, and succeeded the late Gavin Barr in 1986.

Although the influx of people into further education in Scotland during the 1980s was widespread, numbers at Cardonald soared as it became a model for flexible community-based adult learning.

The principal's energetic efforts to widen access and opportunities in education engaged many minds, and it came as no surprise when inspectors, reviewing Strathclyde Regional Council's department of education, were directed to Mosspark Drive to witness what was hailed as an example of an efficient and effective educational establishment.

After leaving a lasting impression on the assessors, he was invited to share the secrets of Cardonald's success at a regional forum for managers in Strathclyde. It was often suggested by peers that his vision inspired the title of a Scottish Office White Paper - Access and Opportunity - which laid the foundations for incorporation. Ray orchestrated the expansive development of the curriculum, forging links with surrounding schools and higher education establishments to create a constantly growing offering for students.

His belief in challenging limits and pushing boundaries led him to become a founder member of the Glasgow Community Colleges Group, where he played a fundamental role in cementing its partnership with the universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde.

Until his retirement in 1997, Ray spread his time on the development of initiatives, supporting the Govan Initiative and creating partnerships with colleges across Europe and America. And he made time to coach youngsters at rugby.

Kate Sangster, head of student support, Cardonald College.

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