THE first non-teacher has been appointed to head a local authority education service in Scotland. Bill Frew, a social work administrator, takes over the new children's service in Perth and Kinross in April when Bob McKay, the education director, retires.
Mr Frew, head of child care in social services, has been in social work since 1969, and has recently overseen the introduction of the council's children's service plan, which embraces the core education department, community education and the childcare division.
Gordon Jeyes, secretary of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland and head of children's services in Stirling, a post including child care, welcomed the development of inclusive children's services where councils chose to go down that road.
"It has to be in the context of local solutions for local circumstances. What might suit one council need not suit anoher, although there are advantages in promoting programmes such as social inclusion," Mr Jeyes said.
He warned that structural solutions "can be a displacement activity" with no benefit, and the interests of the services for children had to be the first priority.
"Things have moved on," Mr Jeyes said. "It might have not been the same even in 1995 (when single-tier authorities were under debate and directors of education fought for autonomy)."
Perth and Kinross appointed Mr Frew without advertising the post. Mr Jeyes said that was a matter for local judgment.
He pointed out that under the forthcoming Standards in Scotland's Schools legislation - which makes local authorities answerable to the Executive - an appropriate official would have to be named as the link. Perth and Kinross would need an education official responsible for school accountability, he suggested.