ECA Celebrates the life of former Vice President Andrew Fairbairn.

Bernard Godding worked for Andrew Fairbairn at the time he was Director of Education in Leicestershire



Andrew Napier Fairbairn, born November 6 1921; died October 13 2007


"There was a generation of men and women for whom the second world war was an experience which proved their courage, honed their character and deepened their resolve to make the world a better place. Many went on to play a pivotal role in some aspect of postwar reconstruction. Andrew Fairbairn, who has died aged 85 after a fall, was one of them. He became one of the very few creative and inspirational chief education officers working for local education authorities as they attempted to realise the hopes and dreams of RA Butler's 1944 Education Act."


Tim Brighouse obituary in The Guardian.com: Andrew Fairbairn Obituary 1st November 2007


Andrew Fairbairn had a passion for Lifelong Learning and the strategic approach which he took to developing his concept of the Community College/Centre was based on an all-inclusive view; seeing the expensive real-estate of the school as a resource for the whole community and enshrining this concept in everything from architects briefs to the instruments and articles of governance for institutions which were for him far more than the basic school.

In addition to meticulous planning, Andrew bought the best research to bear on the key issues he identified, working with the local universities on a wide range of topics; careers guidance with Loughborough, the teaching of dress and fashion to adults with Nottingham.

His view of 'community', doubtless informed by his national engagement with youth work but more deeply rooted in a genuine sense of building focal points for citizen engagement, meant that he was respected as much in the voluntary sector as he was in the majority of his schools.

Local Government reorganisation in 1974 created a magnificent opportunity to influence the whole of England and Wales with the vision of Fairbairn and his collaborators. It had already been arranged, with the help of Henry Arthur Jones and Harold Wiltshire (the Leicestershire and Nottingham Universities respectively) for the National Institute of Adult Education, later NIACE, to come to Leicester. Now the timely retirement of the Institute's director Dr Edward Hutchinson made it possible for the international perspective on this field of work to be applied to the Community College. Hutchinson's report was completed in the Autumn of 1973 at about the same time as he was being instrumental in establishing International Council for Adult Education (ICAE). At the same time a National conference on the Community College was devised in conjunction with the CEOs of about a dozen local authorities, including Devon, Cumbria, and Gwent. Vaughan Williams, the then Chair of this Association, was one of the speakers at the conference, since at the time Fairbairn was the Association's Vice President.

The creation of the new Leicestershire, an amalgam of the old County with its city and Rutland, presented the opportunity to re-appraise the whole picture across the pit villages of the West, the rural acres to the South and East and the increasing cultural diversity of Leicester and Loughborough, and to see how the original conception of Henry Morris, developed in rural Cambridgeshire after the First World War, could be recast to fit the needs of the last quarter of the twentieth century.

Andrew and I last met at Bassingbourn Community College as it celebrated its 50th anniversary, where he still exhibited that same sharp mind when commenting on the affairs of the day.

Bernard Godding

Date Added: November 20th 2007