Sutherland steps on up

9th July 2004 at 01:00
As West Dunbartonshire has struggled to fill its top education post, Inverclyde has moved to effect a seamless transition following the departure of Bernard McLeary who is to become chief executive of Learning and Teaching Scotland.

Inverclyde's new director of education is Jim Sutherland, the department's former head of planning and resources who had taken over as acting director.

Like Mr McLeary, his successor is very much an Inverclyde man, having started his career as a physics and maths teacher at St Columba's High in Gourock. Like many who have risen to the top in Scottish education, he had a formative experience delivering the Government's technical and vocational education initiative (TVEI) in the 1980s; he was one of the initiative's co-ordinators for the former Strathclyde Region.

Mr Sutherland, aged 55, takes charge of an authority which, despite pockets of significant deprivation, is the only one so far to have been rated very good by HMI for achieving continuous improvement in the performance of its schools. He acknowledged, however, "that the issues facing the future of education in Inverclyde are complex".

Jim Mitchell, Inverclyde's convener of education and lifelong learning, made it clear Mr Sutherland had been chosen because of his success in reorganising primary education. "We can be confident that, when it comes to the future provision of secondary education, he will do likewise," Mr Mitchell said.

Meanwhile West Dunbartonshire has brought to an end its external search for a new director and appointed Bob Cook, acting director, on a year's contract initially. Mr Cook, who had been due to take up a secondment with the Scottish Executive, was in charge of educational resources. The authority twice selected candidates for the post, but each withdrew.

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