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It's a lonely job at the top

OH, how the fruits of worldly success turn sour! Vincent McDonnell, head of Islington's privatised education services, has it all: a salary believed to be approaching pound;100,000 after a stratospheric career path which has taken him from driving vans as a 16-year-old school-leaver with three O levels to becoming the first private-sector manager of an education authority. But what is it all worth without friends to share it with?

It seems fellow members of the elite Association of Chief Education Officers have ejected the the Islinton boss from their ranks since he left his job as chief officer in Richmond last year. They argue that, although he performs the duties of a chief education officer, he does not have the statutory title. A forlorn McDonnell is feeling the chill: "It is a very demanding job and one of the places you go to for advice and support is normally within your own peer group - where you can mix with others who are in a similar position.I would just like the acknowledgement. A number of people at the association are good friends."

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