27th November 2009 at 00:00

Frank Gormlie, a pioneer of media education in Scotland, died aged 59, last month. He had been cycling in Spain when he fell, sustaining injuries which proved fatal.

He grew up in Barr-head and attended Paisley's St Mirin's Academy, where he excelled at English and captained the school debating team to a defeat of the Paisley Grammar team containing future Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil.

Before entering teaching, he had a rich variety of jobs - roadie for the Crazy World of Arthur Brown, brewery worker, reporter for the Barrhead News and professional clairvoyant. A lifelong traveller, he followed the hippie trail to India before studying English and philosophy at Edinburgh University. Frank took the iconoclasm and activism of the 1960s into the rest of his life, actively supporting CND and Green politics as well as constantly questioning received wisdom on curricular matters.

On graduation, he trained as an English teacher at Moray House before starting his teaching career in 1979 at Forrester High, Edinburgh. Frank helped set up Forrester Media Group, a grassroots group which launched media studies in Scottish schools. He helped devise, then teach, a media studies course for SCOTBEC where one of his first pupils was future Finance Secretary John Swinney.

He contributed to the writing of a number of SCOTVEC media studies modules. Never a model of sartorial elegance, among the courses he designed was one titled Media Studies - Fashion. He eventually moved to James Gillespie's High, where he became principal teacher of media and drama, making his school one of the few in Scotland where the media were studied by all pupils in S1-2.

He was a founding member of AMES (Association for Media Education in Scotland), edited its Media Education Journal and regularly delivered CPD at its annual conference. After his 2005 retiral, he travelled widely and focused on his lifelong passion for writing and history.

Despite retiring from teaching, he never lost interest in the Scottish educational scene and was constantly investigating its shortcomings and absurdities - for example, the immense cost of dropping the "A" from A Curriculum for Excellence. Frank was also utilising the Freedom of Information Act to investigate CPD under-funding. He conducted regular CPD sessions, most recently at the 2009 AMES conference where he focused on the Pixar animation Wall-E. As ever, he was up-to-date and linked the session to the ACfE outcomes published only the previous month.

Frank found deep joy in life and was never happier than when sharing his enthusiasms. He used erudition and humour to inspire pupils and colleagues for three decades.

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