Borders teacher to chair research society

Colin Russell. BELMAS Chairman
Colin Russell. BELMAS Chairman

A primary school headteacher from Melrose has become the first Scot to chair a prestigious organisation for academics in its near 40-year history, writes Kenny Paterson.

Doctor Colin Russell was elected to the top role of the British Educational Leadership, Management and Administration Society (BELMAS) at its annual international conference near Cambridge last weekend.

The 63-year-old will take up the post for two years with BELMAS, which researches educational leadership and has 700 members worldwide.

Originally from Walkerburn, Dr Russell moved to Jedburgh where he was educated at the Grammar School and Hawick High.

He then attended Edinburgh University’s Moray House before serving time as a primary teacher and headteacher at Hawick, Eyemouth, Burnmouth and Swinton before moving to Gorebridge and then Edinburgh, where he currently teaches at Dean Park in Balerno.

Dr Russell said: “As far as Scotland is concerned it’s a critical moment in the development of the Curriculum for Excellence and those schools which are equipped with knowledge of leadership theory are able to implement it much more readily than those who haven’t.”

Dr Russell, who has been a headteacher since 1983, added: “One of the things I hope to achieve during my two years as chair is to bring academics and practitioners closer together to the benefit of both.

“I see a practitioner as being someone who takes good account of theoretic structures and tries to apply them to schools to raise standards so that it brings a benefit to students.

“There are real problems confronting us in world, UK and Scottish education, and sound research-based knowledge is required for us to move forward in a scientific way,” he said.

Dr Russell told fellow members – from as far away as the USA, Canada, Japan, China, Australia and the Middle East – at the annual conference that he hoped more school and college staff in leadership positions would join BELMAS.

The organisation will celebrate its 40th year in 2012, with Dr Russell planning to stage next year’s annual conference in Edinburgh.