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Director who held off on new Nationals steps down

The director of education who defied the Scottish government by delaying the introduction of the new National qualifications for a year is set to retire, TESS can reveal.

John Wilson, East Renfrewshire Council's director of education, who began his career as a physics teacher in Edinburgh and replaced Eleanor Currie as director in 2002, has told staff that he will retire this summer.

Mr Wilson hit the headlines last year when he revealed that his authority - the top-performing education authority in Scotland - would not introduce the new National qualifications until 2014-15.

The revelation prompted a letter from Education Scotland chief executive Bill Maxwell, who told Mr Wilson that his council's decision carried "a risk of undermining the collective national effort to build confidence in the new pattern of qualifications".

But Mr Wilson pressed ahead, citing teachers' "insecurity" and nervousness about the new courses as one of the principal reasons for the delay.

John Stodter, general secretary of the Association of Directors of Education Scotland, said Mr Wilson was regarded among his colleagues as "a very efficient manager" who was "independently minded" and "committed to the drive for standards". "He is a thoroughly professional individual and a strong leader," Mr Stodter said.

Hugh Dougherty, East Renfrewshire's recently retired public relations manager, described Mr Wilson as an "outstanding director".

"The great question now is: who is going to follow him?" he added.

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