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East Lothian reshuffle spells the end for director's role

One of the most prominent directors of education in Scotland will not be replaced when he quits his job at the end of this month.

When Don Ledingham leaves East Lothian council as director of services for people - a remit that includes education - his post will disappear and his salary will be used to fund the council's share of a new post of director of health and social care in conjunction with NHS Lothian.

Meanwhile, the two remaining executive directors will be redesignated as depute chief executives, with Darrin Nightingale remaining as the council's head of education. However, his background is in banking and marketing, leaving no one at senior management level with an education background - an issue that concerns teaching unions.

But Mr Ledingham, who is taking up a new post at leadership consultancy Drummond International, has warned against snap judgements.

"Unless people are aware of the circumstances a local authority is working in, and the budget challenges it faces, it is dangerous to say that there should always be one particular type of individual," he told TESS.

Mr Ledingham said he had "great confidence" in Mr Nightingale.

Mr Ledingham, who began his career as a PE teacher, was one of the first directors of education in Scotland to have a remit bridging two authorities - East Lothian and Midlothian, where he is director of education and children's services. He has sparked a national debate about school governance in recent years by suggesting that East Lothian should place its schools in community-based trusts.

Dr Mary Smith will replace Mr Ledingham in Midlothian. She is currently head of children's services.

A report submitted by the council's chief executive to the full council outlining her plans, said: "Representatives of (the unions) Unison, EIS and SSTA (the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association) have been consulted on the proposals. They expressed an opinion that they would prefer to see someone with an education background at senior management level in the organisation."

emma.seith@tess.co.uk.

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