International education expert receives Honorary Fellowship


International education expert and former Chief Executive of the General Teaching Council for Wales, Gary Brace, has today (Tuesday, July 3) been awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

Gary Brace

Gary Brace was the first Chief Executive of the General Teaching Council for Wales, holding the post from its inception in 2000 to his retirement in 2014.

Always motivated by a collaborative and co-operative global outlook, Gary’s voluntary public service has been in the field of international education. He has been involved in the work of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) since 2005 – initially as a member and Chair of the former UNESCO Cymru-Wales Committee, and, subsequently, as a Non-Executive Director and a former Vice Chair of the UK National Commission for UNESCO.

At the UK National Commission, Gary has led projects which have contributed to the shaping of the global Sustainable Development Goal for education and in the field of education for sustainable development. One of his highest priorities continues to be support for the development of the teaching profession both at home and internationally, with the aim of improving the quality of teaching and learning. His public service has taken him on numerous occasions to UNESCO’s Paris headquarters where he has represented the UK.

On presenting Mr Gary Brace to the congregation Professor Dylan Jones, Dean of Yr Athrofa said:

“It’s a pleasure for me to introduce to you Gary Brace – one of the main influences on education in Wales and education world-wide.  As we face major curriculum changes here in Wales it’s very timely that we acknowledge Gary’s contribution to Education. 

It’s especially important to recognize Gary’s success in meeting the challenge of enabling and supporting world-wide education.  It is important that children everywhere have the best opportunities possible.  Gary has made a widely recognized contribution to giving children these opportunities through improving teaching and learning.  He has made a difference and transformed lives through education.  It is right and proper that such involvement in supporting young people across the globe is celebrated.”    

Gary started his career teaching history and government & politics in a secondary school and a sixth form college in Cardiff. During this time, he piloted the new GCSE examination and led the WJEC’s pilot of a new A level history syllabus. These experiences led to him taking on national responsibilities with posts at the Curriculum Council for Wales and the Qualifications, Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales.

In the post-Soviet Union 1990s, Gary undertook work in the Russian Federation and in Georgia as a Council of Europe history curriculum expert and speaker. He has authored and co-authored various official curriculum and assessment publications and has written teacher guidance booklets for BBC and Channel 4 history series.  On receiving the award Mr Gary Brace said:

“News of this honour from the University was completely unexpected and the more welcome as a result of that.  As an educator and historian with particular interest in 20th century international relations perhaps it wouldn’t be surprising that I should be drawn into being involved in international development and advising on the curriculum in the old Soviet Union.”

Addressing the graduates directly, Mr Brace had this message.  He said:

“Final word must go to those of you whose special day it is today.  Small actions can make a big difference, think of the impact of David Attenborough’s programme Blue Planet 2 on action against single use plastic.  He said – ‘your small actions may seem insignificant but when you put all the small actions together you can make a difference.’ 

In 2030 the majority of you will be in your early 30s – you will remember this day, your day of graduation – so I ask you to be a visionary like the world’s education leaders were in Dhaka at the turn of the century.  But don’t just be a dreamer, be more than that, commit yourselves to bringing about the society and world you want to live in.  You can make a difference.”

Gary is currently a Trustee and Vice Chair of the charity, Cynnal Cymru-Sustain Wales.Formerly, a Governor of Herbert Thompson Primary and Cantonian High schools in Cardiff, he was awarded the University of Glamorgan Chancellor’s Medal in 2009 and a Fellowship of the International Professional Development Association in 2013. Gary is a member of Llandaff Rowing Club. He has twice climbed Mt Kilimanjaro.

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