At the age of 11, Graham won a scholarship to a local, prestigious private school. He excelled academically whilst showing early signs of idealism in becoming the first boy to refuse to join the school's army cadet force in over 100 years. Graham won a scholarship to study Physics at St Andrews University, Scotland's leading university and now ranked third in the UK.

It was whilst a student that Graham first visited Algeria on a one month study visit in 1971. He was taken by energy of the idealism that he could sense in the country and that led to return visits from then until this day.


On graduating in Physics, Graham decided that he would like to work in the field of education which had already done so much for him. He trained as a Physics teacher and started work in a large urban state school. In parallel, Graham studied a Masters degree in education, which gave him the academic training as an educational psychologist. However, on graduation, he moved into education research with the Scottish Council for Research in Education working on teaching strategies in primary schools.


Graham's next move was into educational administration in a local education office (l'Academie) in northern England followed by promotion to be Assistant Education Officer in the county of Kent, one of the largest education authorities in England. From there, Graham was headhunted by the Department for Education & Science to be the Department's civil servant responsible for the review of national vocational qualifications. On publication of the review, which introduced the biggest change in UK vocational qualifications since the second world war, Graham moved to be a senior manager in the government's national body responsible for vocational qualifications.


Throughout his career, Graham has pursued an interest in continuous learning through qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, a Chartered Engineer and gaining membership of the British Computer Society, the professional association for IT consultants. Although not a professional geographer, Graham was delighted to be made a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.


By the age of 45, Graham took a challenging step. From observing his peers, he had decided not to seek a role as the leader of one of the many national education organisations. He would set up his own educational consultancy and attempt to influence independently. Naming the company, Alligan, after the street in Crieff where he was born to remind himself of his origins, he started as the company's sole consultant.


Alligan's first contracts were in further (vocational) education colleges, which were often described as the Cinderella of the education sector. His role was to work with colleges which were failing to meet Government expectations and turn around their performance. This was a particularly fulfilling time for Graham as he saw the life changing impact that these colleges were having on young people for whom academic studies were not suitable.


In 2001, the Department for Education appointed Graham's company to be its lead project management adviser on what was to become the government's biggest investment in improving standards in the weakest schools in the country. Graham set out in great detail the process for turning round what were described as failing schools and went on to train the cohort of experts who were to lead the individual school projects. Over a 10 year period, Alligan itself took on the management of over 20 school improvement projects with a total value of over £500 million pounds, including the opening of some new schools in deprived areas. Thus Graham found himself in the position where he was training the staff of his competitors and also inspecting their performance. Whilst this raised some eyebrows, the Department for Education had faith in Graham's integrity to serve his competitors as well as his own company.


Based on Alligan's experience on the Academies programme, Graham was, in parallel, developing Alligan's capacity to work internationally on school improvement and opening new schools. This led to projects, mainly with national governments, in South Korea, Singapore, India, Pakistan, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Libya, Morocco and Mauritania.


Alligan started in Algeria in 2006 on a project supported by the Ministry of National Education to pilot curriculum software in middle and secondary schools. This covered a range of subjects including English, Maths and Science. Acclimatised into the way of working in Algeria, Graham registered Eurl Alligan Algerie in 2008. Prompted by the British Ambassador, Martyn Roper, Graham worked on the establishment of an English language school which resulted in the opening of the British Institute for English in 2013. In the following year, Graham was introduced to the project to establish a British international school. After six years of negotiation, Eurl Alligan Algerie was granted permission to open the first British international school in Algeria, British School Algiers, on 9th March 2020; two weeks before the international COVID lockdowns. Following a huge effort from the British and Algerian governments, Alligan experts and local teachers, and the encouragement and faith of many parents, the new school opened as soon as the Algerian government gave the go-ahead for schools to re-open. It was 02 November 2020.