Keith Robinson obituary

My father-in-law, Keith Robinson, who has died aged 94, began his career as a teacher of economics and retired in 1988 as director of the Curriculum Council for Scotland. He was instrumental in fermenting and developing ideas for teaching across a range of social subjects in Scottish education.

Born in Manchester, the son of Eden Robinson, a businessman, and Elisa (nee Webster), he was educated at William Hulme school and Manchester University, graduating in 1948. His first teaching appointment was at Audenshaw grammar school but in 1954 he moved to Sheffield to establish and develop A-level economics teaching at King Edward VII school. His work there led to what one former pupil described as “far and away the most successful economics sixth form in the country” judging by the number of pupils who obtained a distinction in that subject.

He was a popular and highly respected teacher, and many pupils still fondly recall his nickname “Ticker” (derived from his initials), some of them remaining in contact with him throughout the rest of his life. He enjoyed his involvement with the school’s cricket and football teams, sports in which he had a lifelong interest.

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He was an active member of the Economics Association which awarded him honorary life membership for his contribution to its work.

In 1965 he moved to Jordanhill College of Education to train teachers of economics and modern studies. It was a bold and initially disorienting move since neither he nor his wife, Joyce (nee Clabrough), whom he had married in 1950, had any knowledge of Glasgow. However, they and their family settled successfully and their house in Bearsden provided a happy and secure home for the next 24 years, although one sadly marred by the death of their third daughter, Christine, from an asthmatic attack in 1973.

Keith was appointed director of Scotland’s National Curriculum Development Centre (Social Subjects) in 1971. The centre’s initial purpose was to prepare courses for the raising of the school leaving age from 14 to 16 in 1972, although it later contributed to a much wider range of courses across the social sciences. Keith’s energy and collegial management style together with his astute leadership and networking skills ensured that the centre made a significant contribution to the teaching of these subjects. He was made an OBE in 1986.

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Joyce died in 1989. Keith subsequently married Patricia Hopson, a widow whom he met on a cruise, in 1991. Establishing a new home in Buxton, Derbyshire, they enjoyed an active retirement as grandparents, members of the National Trust and as regular patrons of the Buxton festival. Keith continued as a Church of England lay reader in the Buxton team of parishes, a vocation that he had begun in Bearsden.

Pat died in 2020. Keith is survived by his daughters, Helen, Pat and Ruth, as well as by five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, and his sister, Sheila.

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