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No shadow over new director

West Dunbartonshire told The TES Scotland this week that it is "fully supporting" its new director of education and cultural services, despite a local furore over her appointment.

Carol McAlpine hit the headlines at the time she was head of Viewforth High in Kirkcaldy in 1998, when her husband was jailed for 10 years for sexual offences against a girl.

Mrs McAlpine, now separated from her husband, moved on to become a headteacher in Newcastle upon Tyne and hit the headlines for a different reason - when she featured in a Channel 4 programme on "superheads".

Her most recent post was as director of the education action zone in Great Yarmouth where her experience undoubtedly commended her to West Dunbartonshire. Action zones in England are targeted on areas with low pupil attainment and poor behaviour.

As a council which was the first in Scotland to declare itself a "new community school authority" and which waged a vigorous offensive against poor levels of literacy and numeracy among pupils, West Dunbartonshire would have been impressed by Mrs McAlpine's record in tackling similar issues in the Norfolk town.

She developed the "full-service school" concept, which brings different professionals together to co-ordinate support for children and is the equivalent of what are now integrated community schools in Scotland.

Mrs McAlpine was offered and accepted the pound;80,000 a year post, in which she succeeds Ian McMurdo, before the council was aware of her husband's criminal record.

One of her referees, Professor John MacBeath of Cambridge University, was reported in a national newspaper to have commented: "I work with her and have the very highest regard for her. She is unblemished."

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