Leading light for Glasgow

26th October 2007 at 01:00
Elizabeth Buie talks to Maureen McKenna, the new director for education services.Scotland's largest education authority, Glasgow City Council, has appointed a leading light in the education inspectorate to run its education department.

Maureen McKenna, 47, a former maths teacher who has worked for the past seven years in HMIE, will take up the post of director for education services at the beginning of December. The position is a key one in the new joint department combining education and social work. Mrs McKenna will report to Margaret Doran, who became the executive director for education and social work earlier this year.

Mrs McKenna, a former international netball player and referee, has been a district inspector in Glasgow for the past 18 months and believes this has given her an insight into its schools and education more widely. "I have a very good working relationship with Glasgow and hope to build on that," she said.

She added that she had "huge respect" for Glasgow's teachers, although acknowledged there were "great inconsistencies that have been well documented, including the quality of what we deliver to our children and young people".

At a time of regeneration and social renewal, Glasgow had plans to deliver a huge agenda for improvement. She saw her role as helping to develop staff confidence and ensuring that, at the same time as they faced changes, teachers remembered they had other people's children going through their doors. "My line is: they are other people's children, but they could be mine," she said.

According to some who have worked with her, Glasgow teachers will encounter someone who is "highly capable and absolutely determined to help Glasgow, for which she has a great affinity."

At the same time, and not unexpectedly as a member of the inspectorate, she is a signed-up member of the modernising school. Glasgow teachers will also have to deal with a mathematician who is steeped in the analysis of the Standard Tables and Charts, which HMIE uses to evaluate the performance of schools.

A mother of three children aged between 11 and 15 who go to school in Renfrewshire, Mrs McKenna was born in Edinburgh and brought up in the west of Scotland, attending Bearsden Academy, Glasgow University and Jordanhill College. Her early years in teaching were spent in the north-east - Dyce, Ellon and Northfield academies. Promotion to principal teacher of maths took her to Kilsyth Academy, where she also became an assistant head.

She was development officer for maths during the period of the Higher Still reforms and subsequently worked with the exam authorities in developing the subject.

Since joining HMIE in 2000, Mrs McKenna has inspected maths teaching as well as special, primary and secondary schools. She has also been the inspectorate's national specialist for maths in A Curriculum for Education.

Steven Purcell, leader of Glasgow City Council, said he welcomed the knowledge, skills and wealth of experience that Mrs McKenna would bring: "I am confident that the education management team now in place is one of the best in the country and more than qualified to deliver the council's key objectives of raising attainment and achievement in Glasgow schools."

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