Blunkett will vet Hackney director

14th November 1997 at 00:00
David Blunkett is demanding the final say in Hackney Council's choice of a new education director.

The Education Secretary is concerned that the ruling coalition in the east London borough may not appoint a good enough candidate .

Hackney leaders were last night agreeing on the press advertisements for the Pounds 85,000-a-year post which will say: "If you think you're not up to it - you're not. This is the most challenging chief education officer's job in the country."

Its status within Hackney's management structure - criticised by the Government's improvement team - and the final selection procedure are as yet undecided.

Hackney chief executive Tony Elliston was told by officials of the Department for Education and Employment : "Given the lack of leadership in Hackney's education service over the past two years, the Secretary of State believes it is reasonable to expect the LEA to provide evidence of the suitability of any candidate selected to be director of education."

Adverts will be published next week in The TES, the Guardian, and the Sunday Times. They may also appear in the popular black weekly paper The Voice, reflecting Hackney's large ethnic-minority population, and in the Hackney Gazette.

The advertisements followed a compromise reached by the council with the Government last week which left "hit squad" chairman Richard Painter considering resignation.

He had savaged Hackney's new structure, under which the director of education does not have a seat on the council's executive. He found himself isolated by ministers who were happy to see Hackney agree to advertise the job post-haste.

The TES understands that the motion agreed by Hackney Council which set the recruitment timetable, but left the council's structure intact, was drafted in part by school standards minister Stephen Byers.

Despite rejecting the bulk of the improvement team's first report, Hackney says it wants to continue to work with Mr Painter and his team, who will be "technical consultants" for the search. Outside recruitment consultants are also being hired.

The deadline for applications will be December 12. Hackney hopes to draw up a long-list before Christmas and carry out final interviews early in the new year.

Painter and Elliston, page 12

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