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Lambeth lands a high-flyer

The London borough of Lambeth's new education director is to be one of the highest-paid in the country. Heather Du Quesnay, currently director in Hertfordshire, will be paid a salary in excess of Pounds 74,000 in the new post of executive director of education.

The salary reflects a management role for Mrs Du Quesnay alongside her responsibilities for education. The recently-appointed chief executive Heather Rabbatts is introducing a new senior team, consisting of Mrs Du Quesnay and another three highly-paid service chiefs.

Lambeth used a firm of head-hunters to recruit Mrs Du Quesnay, who is probably the most influential woman education director in the country. In her five years as director in Hertfordshire, her views have been much sought by ministers. She is a member of the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority, and the National Council for Educational Technology.

Next year, Mrs Du Quesnay becomes president of the Society of Education Officers - the first woman ever to hold the title. It is only in recent years that women in any number have been appointed to run local education services.

Mrs Du Quesnay arrives in Lambeth at a crucial time. The borough is one of three Labour-controlled councils due to have all of their schools inspected by the Office for Standards in Education.

She said this week that the job presented new opportunities and challenges. Among the issues to be tackled, she said, are the community's confidence in the services, achievement in the schools, and the relationship between the schools and the education authority.

Mrs Du Quesnay is expected to take up her post at the end of March. She is moving to an authority with far fewer schools. Lambeth has four secondary schools - one of which has been identified by OFSTED as failing. Six comprehensives have become grant-maintained. It has 64 primaries and 11 special schools.

Other appointments in the education directorate are expected to follow.

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