John Beattie obituary

Other lives: Dedicated teacher who became chair of the General Teaching Council

My father, John Beattie, who has died aged 78, was a brilliant teacher and passionate educationist.

John’s first teaching role was at Morgan academy, his own former secondary school in Dundee, in 1966. He went on to work in various schools in Exeter, and then moved to Exmouth Community College (at that time the largest school in Europe), where he was head of English and, later, deputy head.

As a teacher (or schoolmaster, as he preferred to be known), he excelled. Former colleagues speak of his “easy approachability, and his tenacity, and … the impressive quality of the standards he stood for”. He could engage children of all walks of life and abilities.

A cheerleader for the teaching profession, John’s influence was not merely local. Having been involved in the Association of Teachers and Lecturers union since the early 1980s, he was elected president in 1998, and, in 2002, was chosen as the second chair of the General Teaching Council. There he endeavoured to bring to bear the knowledge and experience of teachers on education policy. His considerable charm enabled him to work alongside politicians whose values he did not necessarily share.

Born on Burns Night in Dundee to Charles Beattie, who worked as a machine setter after leaving the merchant navy, and Hannah (nee Allan), a shop worker, John was a bright child, earning a place at St Andrews – the first member of his family to go to university. He graduated in English literature but had originally studied German and French, and spoke both languages with panache. After St Andrews he attended the Dundee College of Education, where he met Linda Keith in 1965. They married in 1968, moving to Devon soon after.

John loved his adopted home county and, when not working, was fully involved in local life. He was a memorable pantomime dame and was always called on to address the haggis on Burns Night. A wonderful host and conversationalist, he was a peacemaker in the family and a constant source of (terrible) jokes, stories and songs.

In recent years John had Alzheimer’s disease. He is survived by Linda, his children, Keith, Neil and me, five grandchildren and two brothers.

Jo Beattie

The GuardianTramp

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