Tommy MacKay deserved better

7th December 2007 at 00:00

Many in the world of education and of psychology will have been delighted to see the recognition deservedly given to Tommy MacKay on the front page of The TESS (November 23) for his ground-breaking work as the architect of the West Dunbartonshire literacy initiative.

Few will have been similarly impressed by the profile which accompanied the article. The section drawn from the profile in Gordon Brown's recent book is irreproachable. The rest grossly misrepresents Tommy's standing and his achievements.

The profession in Scotland consists of some 400 people. There can be few professions of this size among whose members there would be unanimity about its leading exponent. However, when any national initiative relating to educational psychology is considered in Scotland, he is always asked to play the leading role.

It is not an inner circle which sees Tommy in this light, but all his colleagues. This is all the more remarkable because he is irredeemably an individualist who does not naturally seek the safety of the consensus view.

From personal knowledge, there is no credibility gap between Tommy MacKay the expert and Tommy MacKay the practitioner.

Your profile failed to mention that Tommy received an honorary doctorate from Glasgow University for his contribution to educational psychology in Scotland; that he features in the "top 10 UK educational psychologists" listed by the Independent; and that, far from attracting "hostility from within his own profession" for appearing so frequently in the headlines, he has been the most popular and frequent keynote speaker at the profession's national conferences for about the last 20 years.

Tommy MacKay has gained widespread respect for serious and sustained work across several areas of psychology. Your profile was not only poorly informed but also misinformed.

Ted Jefferies, Buchanan Smithy Cottages, Drymen.

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