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Education director and sport enthusiast

Born: November 26, 1936: Died: May 1, 2012.
Fraser Henderson,who has died aged 75, was a pioneering PE teacher and talented rugby player and office bearer who became a senior education authority official.
Born in Galashiels but raised in Edinburgh, he attended Sciennes Primary (where he captained the football team to victory in the Inspector’s Cup) and Boroughmuir High School, where he captained the rugby team.
After school he trained as a PE teacher at Jordanhill. He was called up to the Scots Guards but was soon commissioned in the Royal Scots, for whose regimental rugby team he played. He continued to play rugby, for Boroughmuir FPs, on his return and had a lifelong association with the club, serving it over a span of years as player, captain, winning coach and president.
He returned to civvy street to work as a primary PE teacher in Edinburgh, moved to Inverness as PE advisor to the county council and moved back to Edinburgh, firstly as PE adviser to the city and then to Lothian Region.
He rose through the ranks to be a highly respected depute director of education. His love of sport remained with him throughout his career and throughout his life.
He was one of a group of talented PE teachers who brought PE into the mainstream curriculum and gave it intellectual status but always without sacrificing the practical and experiential aspect of the subject which made it special to countless young people.
Despite his relatively brief spell as a practising teacher, Mr Henderson’s career as an educational manager was always infused with his commitment to teachers and his clear understanding of the purpose of teaching.
His was light-touch management, sympathetic to the needs of those working in schools, and entirely different to the micro-management by officials with little experience of managing schools or school departments which has become almost ubiquitous today.
He had an instinctive grasp of the political realities within which he operated as a senior council official and not only negotiated these with skill but helped many in the educational world, head teachers, teachers, parents and school boards, to do the same and to squeeze optimum resources from a system which was frequently resource-strapped.
He was a huge support to the schools in the Lothians which served the poorest communities and he was continually committed to the needs of young people at the margins of education.
Inclusiveness and social justice were integral to his professional character long before these words were regularly applied in the teaching lexicon.
He was also a wise and insightful mentor to many teachers for whom his career advice was always relevant, helpful and informed.
Having had serious health problems, Mr Henderson retired from Lothian Region in 1995.
He continued, on a consultancy basis, to be engaged in educational management and gave several years’ sterling work to the new West Lothian Council before finally retiring.
In retiral he and his wife Barabara enjoyed travelling, a pleasure which was enhanced after his son, Grant, settled in Zambia, a country with which Fraser and Barbara became familiar and in which they established new circles of friends.
Fraser Henderson had a sound grasp of the realities in the educational world but his knack of being as positive as possible at all times, his encouraging temperament and his love of people made him one of the most highly respected officers within Scotland’s education departments.
He is survived by his wife Barbara, son Grant, daughter Lesley and grandchildren Jamie and Nunu.
The above article was first published in The Herald on 2 June 2012:

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