Obituary

30th April 2010 at 01:00

Raham Alison, who has died aged 78 of a brain tumour, was a teacher who went on to become general secretary of the Scottish Further and Higher Education Association, the union set up 40 years ago to give an independent voice to further education in Scotland.

An only child, he was born in Clydebank. After graduating in science at Glasgow University, he took a postgraduate degree in education and psychology. A period of National Service followed, when he gained a commission in the RAF.

In 1955 he married Norma, whom he had known from childhood - a marriage which lasted more than 40 years until Norma's death in 1996. They had two daughters, Sheila and Christine.

He spent a few years teaching maths in the north of England, then a period as a visiting psychologist to schools in Yorkshire.

In 1962, he became a lecturer in the department of psychology at Jordanhill College of Education. On the opening of the new Hamilton College of Education in 1966, he became head of the department of education and psychology. But it was as vice-principal, a post to which he was appointed in 1971, that he made his main contribution to education in Scotland.

Mr Alison and the principal, the late George Paton, maintained good links with other colleges and education bodies, and were involved in initiatives such as the promotion of in-service courses for teachers; government- sponsored research to combat the effects on pupils of educational and social deprivation; and the involvement of college staff in working with teachers to explore ways to enrich the experience of children with exceptional abilities.

His experience at Hamilton served him well when, shortly after its closure as a college of education by the Government in 1982, he became general secretary of the Scottish Further and Higher Education Association. He worked energetically to promote the interests of members, both in informal hearings and industrial tribunals. He retired formally in 1995, but continued to sit on tribunals for some time thereafter.

He was a man of high moral and ethical principles; at times his adherence to these, combined with his wry humour, overrode the dictates of tact and diplomacy. But he would never give gratuitous offence, and was ever a kind, generous and loyal friend.

He was also a practical man. You might come upon him dismantling parts of his car, or, boiler-suited and lying on his back, scraping and painting the underside of his caravan on the seafront at Crail, where he and his family and friends spent many happy summer holidays.

In 1999, he married Linda, whom he had met when they were both involved in the running of an Abbeyfield care home.

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