Inverclyde's Ian Fraser suspended

15th May 2009 at 01:00
Pending an investigation into "a number of management and operational matters"

Inverclyde Council's corporate director of education and social care, Ian Fraser, has been suspended by the authority's chief executive, pending an investigation into "a number of management and operational matters".

The dramatic move followed a decision by the council's education appeals committee to reverse a decision by the education directorate to refuse a place at Gourock High to a P7 pupil who lived in its catchment.

A council source suggested that the committee's decision on the parental appeal had been the "final straw", and not the main reason for Mr Fraser's suspension.

However, other sources suggest the disciplinary action follows his alleged failure to communicate with the chief executive that the case was effectively a "ticking bomb". In Mr Fraser's defence, it is being pointed that this was a policy he inherited when he moved to the council from East Renfrewshire.

As a result of Gourock High's pending merger with Greenock Academy, the education department - with the backing of the council - had set a limit of 100 places for the S1 intake in August. However, faced with 101 applications the council held a ballot to select which pupil would attend Greenock Academy. Kirstin Airlie, a pupil at Moorfoot Primary, lost.

The cap had been put at 100 pupils for S1, based on five classes of 20 for practical subjects: the council has now agreed to create another class.

A spokesman for the council said the 101 applications had included an unexpected 12 requests from St Ninian's Primary - pupils who would normally have gone to St Columba's High, which is being decanted to another building next year as part of the council's school modernisation programme.

Education sources suggest Mr Fraser and the council's chief executive, John Mundell, have been engaged in a "power struggle" - not so much over budgets per se but over management style and decision-making.

Some of Mr Fraser's decisions, such as moving the school holidays, have been controversial with parents. However, the education community regards him as a highly-effective, focused manager, albeit no shrinking violet.

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