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Myra Pearson

Educationalist;

Born: March 25, 1953; Died: November 17, 2012

Myra Pearson, who has died aged 59, was one of Scottish education's leading advocates and thinkers.

Her influence helped to shape the development of the teaching profession as it embraced the 21st century and her leadership at Aberdeen University created a model of teaching education.

At the heart of her philosophy was always the conviction that education was about children and those who did not agree discovered that she could be a forthright and assertive opponent. She also demanded, and displayed, high standards, demonstrating an incredible drive and commitment that others could not help but admire.

It helped too that she had a wide-ranging experience of her subject, starting as a relatively timid but intense young teacher and rising to Dean of the School of Education at Aberdeen, plus a period at the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

Born in St Andrews, she was an academic from a young age and was educated at the town's Madras College before embarking on teacher training at Aberdeen College of Education.

Her first post, in 1975, took her to Kilmarnock and Silverwood Primary School where she was a class teacher for nine years before becoming a staff tutor with Strathclyde Regional Council. A year later she had moved to Annick Primary, in Irvine, as assistant head teacher, and the following year she left to take a post as a lecturer in the primary education department Glasgow's Jordanhill College of Education .

During her 15 years at Jordanhill, later part of Strathclyde University, she was co-ordinator for the post-graduate Certificate in Education, co-director of its Professional Development Unit and Associate Dean, responsible for developing post-graduate programmes.

She was also involved in running the business The Scottish Primary Mathematics Group, authoring and publishing mathematics materials, and gained an MBA from Strathclyde Graduate Business School.

In 2001 she was appointed to the General Teaching Council of Scotland as depute registrar (education) where she was recognised as one of the key factors in helping the GTCS achieve success at home and abroad. She was involved in developing the Standards for Full Registration, for Chartered Teacher and for Headship plus the Certificate for Professional Recognition. And she was the officer responsible for introducing and developing a new probation system for Scottish teachers.

One of her greatest strengths was her ability to take a brief and translate it into a high quality educational paper. She worked quickly, enthusiastically and with a shrewd understanding of the political system and how it worked in relation to education. In essence, she led from the front.

When she moved to Aberdeen in 2006, as head of Aberdeen University's School of Education, the institution was just embarking a new approach to initial teacher education. There she developed the idea and brought together a national panel to advise her own team.

"Under Myra's leadership the school's teacher education provision became a model for other universities," said Professor Margaret Ross, head of the College of Arts and Social Sciences.

"She supported colleagues in the school to grow their skills and was a tremendous advocate for the school in the college and wider university. Having been involved in international exchanges in education and teacher education, she widened the School's international activities and took a 'can do' approach to many new ideas."

They included championing an alternative approach to dyslexia and inclusion in education which, has since been adopted elsewhere in Europe, and playing a key role in providing a three-year consultancy in Botswana as well as developing collaborative partnerships with other education institutions and agencies here and overseas from China to the United States.

Latterly she chaired the Scottish Teacher Education Committee and was a member of the Curriculum for Excellence Management Board. She retired early, in 2010, while suffering leukaemia and was awarded the OBE for services to higher education in the 2011 New Year's Honours list.

A witty, intelligent and innovative woman with a dry and wry sense of humour she fought her illness courageously and with a characteristically positive attitude.

Her former colleague at the GCTS, Matthew MacIver said: "Myra's early death has been a huge loss for all of us who inhabit the educational village in Scotland. We have lost someone whose commitment to Scottish education was unwavering."

She is survived by her husband Brian Twiddle, siblings Arlyn and Ian and her extended family.

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