Where are they now?

4th May 2001 at 01:00

1936 Born in Glasgow

Educated at Hutcheson's, Glasgow; University of Glasgow (MA History)

1959-68: teacher and lecturer in Scotland

1968-87: Rose through ranks of Scottish local government in Renfrewshire, and Strathclyde

1979-87: County education officer, Suffolk

1987-88: Chief executive Humberside Council

1988-91: Chairman and chief executive of the National Curriculum Council 1991: Partner, Duncan Graham Consultants

His claim to fame

Mr National Curriculum, appointed as chief of the National Curriculum Council by Kenneth Baker, who famously called him "an awkward sod, but you needed an awkward sod to get it all going". And he did teach Marie McLachlan, aka the singer, Lulu.

Why did he get the job?

He impressed KB with his chairmanship of a maths working group after he called him in to sort out an impasse between educationists and right-wingers.

Was he good at maths?

No. Maths at school was a "mystery", he said. He wondered if he'd been mixed up with a mathematician of the same name.

Did he join the Whitehall mandarin set?

Not likely. He steered well clear and set up the NCC in York.

Wasn't there controversy about that?

AlbionWharf was posh, with a carpet woven with the organisation's initials-unfortunately it was also regularly flooded by the river Ouse.

How did he cope?

Donned his fisherman's waders, bought a 9-ft Avon rubber dinghy and rowed the staff to safety.

What about the job?

Rapidly became disillusioned. Said the NC was "a deliberate attempt (by the Tories) to put teachers in their place". His efforts at partnership with teachers and unions were undermined and his vision of a broad curriculum scuppered by Kenneth Clarke. "Any doubts I had that the main players in the education game had the remotest interest in children, classrooms and teachers were dispelled."

Life after the NCC?

Some consultancy including a report on schools in the Isles of Scilly and writing: about his days on steamboats, Sunset on the Clyde, and his memoir, The Education Racket, both entertaining.

What is he doing now?

"An education-free zone"; he chairs the Eden River Trust which won a quarter of a million damages last year for pollution from farming. Keen on fly-fishing, motor-cycling. Spent last summer travelling in Scotland researching his latest work, Visiting Distilleries (NWP, pound;8).

Diane Spencer

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