Robert Climie Vallance 1922-2017

15 March 2017

Bob was born in Clydebank on 1 November 1922 to parents Alex and Catherine, life-long socialists, humanists and pacifists and members of the Independent Labour Party. It was a warm, close and loving family where he accepted his parents’ strongly held views as his own. There were three children: Mary, Alec and Bob. Bob went to school in Clydebank and Scotstoun, Glasgow where he  received his Higher Leaving Certificate. In 1940 he was matriculated at the University of Glasgow. However, his studies were interrupted by the war, in which – being accepted as a conscientious objector – he served as a Civil Defence ambulance driver. 

He resumed his course in 1945, graduated with a BSc in 1946 and then went to Jordanhill Teacher Training College, Glasgow for six months. Bob then taught Science and Maths at Primary and Secondary School level in various schools in the Glasgow area. In 1952 he graduated with an MEd in Psychology and Education from the University of Glasgow. He then worked for Glasgow Child Guidance Service, at the Psychiatric Dept of the Southern General Hospital. During this period he published a number of papers in learned journals. A major focus for him, also, at this time was in initiating and developing a new service with a special interest in Group Counselling of both children and parents. Throughout his career he participated in the selection of Assistant Governors for Scottish and English Prisons at Polmont and Wakefield Prison Colleges. This would be the period when he began to form his professional identity.

However, and arguably, his greatest contribution came when he was appointed to the Scottish Office List D Schools Psychological service as Principal for the West Area of Scotland. At this time there were only four such posts in Scotland. This was a time of great change in the Scottish juvenile justice system. The radical shift was from the courts and reformatory schools to the Children's Hearings where the new guiding principle was now to be "the best interests of the child". This change of approach presented the institutions involved with a great challenge to adapt and modernise. Bob was very committed to these changes and set about engaging with the key players in the schools and the management system to see to it that the psychological services played their part. He was heavily involved in contributing to training courses for the new Childrens’ Panel members and the new cadre of residential social workers and teachers.

At regionalisation the newly formed Strathclyde Region presented him with a further opportunity to influence and support these developments. Bob set about – in his quiet and determined way – to make the connections with the senior social work managers and head teachers that would facilitate this. This led to the expansion of his team to eight psychologists in the Glasgow area alone. He was a reserved, maybe even shy person, who was rock solid. He never flaunted his values, nor his political beliefs, but they were at work in everything he did. His integrity inspired commitment and trust in those he worked with. The right man in the right place at the right time.

Bob was a genuinely deeply caring person and this applied to the welfare of every other person that he met. With his Staff of Educational Psychologists, he was deliberately non-directive and protective to encourage and enable them to develop themselves both professionally and personally. With the pupils in the residential schools, he was always anxious to promote and maintain all aspects of their day-to-day well-being physically, mentally and emotionally; for example, in order to  try to have the school staffs empathise with their pupils, he would ask "How would you like to sleep in that bed tonight?" He organised week-end conferences in the residential schools and when one Psychologist complained that the showers were lukewarm, his reply was "Now you know how the boys feel!"           

Bob had a full and active retirement after 1985, becoming involved in the Social Care Association, the Labour party, in family tree research, in travelling and in attending operas and concerts with his late wife, Maud. He was also a devoted family man and leaves two daughters and three grandchildren.