Ex-ministers back outgoing director

6th August 2010 at 01:00
Two former education ministers have given their public backing to Aberdeenshire's director of education, whose resignation was announced this week.

Bruce Robertson was suspended six months ago on full pay after the council announced an independent inquiry into allegations of bullying, understood to have emanated from a few secondary heads whose leadership and decision- making had been challenged by him.

But according to Maureen Watt, former schools minister and SNP MSP for North East Scotland, Mr Robertson had "nothing to answer for and no action is being taken against him" following the inquiry, carried out by Maggi Allan, former education director in South Lanarkshire.

"My understanding is that he still has the support of the primary school sector, central services staff, the unions, and the majority of councillors," said Ms Watt, who will be asking questions about the cost to Aberdeenshire's council tax-payers - understood to exceed pound;300,000.

She accused the leadership of Aberdeenshire Council of "allowing complaints from some secondary headteachers to outweigh the record and success of a director dedicated to improving the education of Aberdeenshire's children".

Former Labour education minister Peter Peacock, who worked closely with Mr Robertson when he ran education in Highland Council, said: "It seems simply incredible to me that Aberdeenshire could let a man with this much talent go, when they have so much they need to do."

He added: "I hope that Aberdeenshire's undoubted loss will be Scotland's gain. Bruce Robertson has still got a great deal to offer Scottish education."

One primary head praised Mr Robertson for giving strong leadership and direction when he arrived three years ago, after being headhunted by Aberdeenshire.

"He expected the secondary schools to move forward at the same pace as primary schools with Curriculum for Excellence - but secondary schools are very slow beasts to move," said the head.

Mr Robertson's departure will be seen by some commentators as further evidence of the power play between council chief executives and education directors on the one hand, and the leadership rivalries between some headteachers and education directors on the other.

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