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Freeze on new director

DUMFRIES and Galloway is likely to remain without a permanent director of education for at least six months. Ken Macleod, the previous director, left last May but the troubled council has been in no hurry to fill the vacancy.

The education committee is faced with three options at its meeting next Tuesday. One is to continue with an acting director, Fraser Sanderson, until after the May local elections. A second would involve advertising the post and leaving a short list for the new council to choose from.

A third would be to move to an immediate appointment but an insider told The TES Scotland: "The drift is towards delay."

The agenda for next week's meeting notes: "The longer the post remains unfilled the greater the saving to the council. This may not be tenable long term - but is sustainable for a further period." In practice, that means an appointment is unlikely before mid-summer at the earliest.

Dumfries and Galloway's leadership, comprising Independents and Liberal Democrats, was plagued last year by resignations and accusations. Ian Smith, the chief executive, resigned and his post is not being immediately filled. Indeed, there is a feeling among some leading councillors that the new relationship with the Scottish parliament raises the question whether a chief executive is needed and if so what redefined powers he should have.

Mr Smith was instrumental in seeking to remove authority from the education department. Reviews of school meals, transport and staffing were instigated but no changes have resulted.

Mr Sanderson said: "Schools should not have noticed any effects on services".

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