Born: May 28, 1921; Died: August 29, 2012.
Alex McLellan, who has died aged 91, was a highly successful Scottish education director who went on to share his expertise across several continents.
Having started his career as a teacher in Renfrewshire, he officially retired as director of the Scottish Centre for Education Overseas but continued to work abroad as a consultant until he was in his 70s.
For a man with a love of languages and travel it was the perfect occupation – but a world apart from his roots as the son of a ship's plater growing up in Greenock.
The eldest of four children, he was educated at Belville Place Primary, where he was dux, and then Greenock High School. He studied English and history at Glasgow University, graduating with an MA shortly before he turned 19 in May, 1940.
From there he went straight into the Royal Artillery Regiment's officer training camp at Woolwich and rose to become Captain and Adjutant, in the 7th Rajput Regiment of Artillery in the Indian Army. He served in Bangladesh and Bombay during the Second World War, mainly with the Punjabi Musselmen, and became a fluent Urdu speaker. A talented linguist, he could also speak conversational Swahili, Bangla and Sinhala.
After the war ended he returned to Glasgow University and completed his honours degree in 1948. The following year, while doing his post-graduate teaching qualification at Jordanhill College of Education, he went with the British University Debating Team on a tour of colleges and universities in Pakistan, India and Ceylon, meeting Pandit Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India, on his travels.
Mr McLellan then taught English, history and geography in Renfrewshire primary and secondary schools, including Paisley Grammar. He also became president of Greenock Boys' Brigade Battalion where he had been a member as a youngster.
His career then took a change of direction when he went back to university and graduated Master of Education from Glasgow in 1956.
The previous year he had married Muriel and in 1957 his work took them to Aberdeen where he was assistant, and later deputy director of education for the city.
A subsequent move, in 1963, saw them make their home in Forfar where he enjoyed perhaps the most successful period in his professional career. As deputy and then director of education for Angus County Council, he completely changed the perspective on education.
Surrounding himself with high quality advisory staff, he overhauled the curriculum and created centres of excellence. When he had arrived in post the council's spending per head on education was among the lowest in Scotland. By the time he left, 11 years later, it was one of the highest of the rural councils, every secondary school had either been rebuilt or was scheduled for rebuilding. His dogged determination to get things done had paid off and the achievement was praised by the Inspectorate.
Meanwhile he also continued his studies, this time via Birmingham University, with an advanced course in local government administration in 1972, and became a Fellow of the British Institute of Management and member of both the British Association for Educational Management and Administration and the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland.
By 1975 he had moved to Moray House College of Education in Edinburgh as a lecturer in educational management at its Scottish Centre for Education Overseas. Part of the job involved overseas assignments, taking courses and seminars for education ministries in the Seychelles, Maldives and Tanzania and in Pakistan, Malaysia and the Gambia for World Bank education projects.
He was 60 when he was appointed director of the Scottish Centre for Education Overseas, with responsibility for more than 300 foreign students from 45 countries. He also designed courses and curricula, negotiated and secured contracts with government representatives in embassies, High Commissions and donor agencies at home and abroad, and did consultancy work in developing countries from Bangladesh to Thailand, Cameroon and Sudan.
After retiring from Moray House at 65, he became a consultant in educational management at the Ministry of Education Staff College for Educational Administration in Maharagama, Sri Lanka, and later an adviser in education and management and a mission leader for a World Bank project to encourage the development of primary education in Pakistan.
He finally gave up work in 1994 but, fittingly for a man with an international reputation, continued to enjoy travel, visiting destinations as far afield as Kathmandu and the Amazon. Among his other interests were golf, playing the piano, following the fortunes of Rangers, gardening and current affairs.
Widowed 10 years ago, he is survived by his younger sister Betty, his nieces and nephews, and is remembered as a man who inspired lasting loyalty from friends and colleagues.
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