August 13, 2008

Real Lives: Ethel’s Teachings Brought the Best Out of Everyone

LEADING Scottish educationalist Dr Ethel Gray has died at the age of 85.

ETHEL Gray devoted her life to making education accessible to all.

Among her many achievements was being the first woman appointed to the court of Heriot-Watt University.

Her grandmother was a Suffragette and her mother, a feminist, founded her own business during the depression.

Dr Gray, formerly of Church Hill, Morningside, was educated at Hutchesons' Grammar School in Glasgow and went on to become an English teacher after graduating from Glasgow University and Jordanhill College.

Following teaching experience gained at schools ranging from tough junior secondaries to a private girls' school, she became a lecturer in English and drama at Jordanhill, before being offered the first principalship of the new Craigie College of Education in Ayr, which was founded in 1965.

At the college, Dr Gray was able to champion an army of poorly- valued women primary teachers and the college won much acclaim for its innovative in-service training programme and curriculum development centre.

Dr Gray encouraged team teaching and working with small groups of children, and set up a scheme where students could work with small groups of children to encourage them to see pupils as individuals.

In 1971, the college negotiated a Bachelor of Education degree in association with Strathclyde University for would-be primary and secondary teachers.

When Dr Gray was invited to become director of the Scottish Adult Literacy Agency in 1976, she set up a whole network of organisers, tutors and students, and recruited thousands of volunteers.

Friends described her as "a woman of immense stature who was well ahead of her time".

In Edinburgh, romance blossomed for the then-Miss Rennie on the General Teaching Council and she married the GTC's first registrar, George Gray.

As well as serving with the General Teaching Council at its Corstorphine headquarters as probation committee convener, Dr Gray was also director of the Scottish Adult Literacy Agency for three years.

She also served as president of the Scottish Institute of Adult and Continuing Education for three years and joined Help the Aged as chair of an education project for older people.

In addition, she served on the Scottish Community Education Council.

In 2001, she set up The George D Gray CBE MA Award as a memorial to her husband, which is made annually by the GTC to the student who produces the best Bachelor of Education dissertation in Scotland. Dr Gray was on a panel of five judges who rigorously assessed around 20 dissertations a year from seven Scottish universities and presented the award to the winner.

She died peacefully at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary on July 30 after a long illness.

(c) 2008 Evening News; Edinburgh (UK). Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.