Education chief exits amid ‘failure’ probes

Gillian Tee. Picture: Bill Henry

Gillian Tee. Picture: Bill Henry

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THE city’s education chief is to leave her £140,000-a-year post amid two ongoing investigations into failures in her department.

Gillian Tee has confirmed she will retire at the end of the month as probes continue into “dirty tricks” carried out by her staff connected to Cameron House Community Centre and the mistreatment of a city primary school pupil with autism.

Her departure is the latest among the council’s top directors in less than 18 months.

The director of communities and families said her department had achieved the “seemingly impossible task” of boosting opportunities for children amid “serious financial restraints”.

But senior council sources suggested a link between the decision and damaging rows under Ms Tee’s watch.

She is one of six council bosses to leave the organisation since July last year.

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One council insider said: “The department has come in for a lot of criticism and things happened. Some may argue the director has to be held to account.”

The insider claimed even with the recent departure of other senior officials, Ms Tee’s exit would not cause problems.

“There are second and third tier officers, who have been there for some time and have all the experience. We may not have planned things this way, but it’s good to get new blood into the council,” the source added.

Former chief executive Dame Sue Bruce has retired, while economy director Greg Ward and deputy chief executive Alastair Maclean secured posts at Westminster Council and 
finance firm Baillie Gifford.

Mark Turley resigned as director of services for communities amid anger over the Mortonhall baby ashes scandal.

Health and social care director Peter Gabbitas took voluntary severance following concern his department was millions of pounds over budget.

Ms Tee said: “Children’s services are judged by inspectors to be ‘good’, school leaver destinations are better than in any other city in Scotland, educational attainment has improved every year and child protection is judged to be a strength.

“I pay tribute to my brilliant staff. Whether in schools, early years, social work, community learning and development, specialist support bases or Waverley Court, they have worked tirelessly on behalf of the children of Edinburgh.”

Ms Tee’s departure comes after the Cameron House scandal and allegations that a student’s complaint about improper behaviour by one of her teachers at Castlebrae High was effectively ignored for four months.

Last week, we revealed new chief executive Andrew Kerr had apologised “in person” to an autistic pupil and his parents after he missed five months of classes at James Gillespie’s Primary after a failure to provide sufficient teaching support.

Sources indicated Ms Tee is under investigation over the Gillespie’s situation following a complaint from the family.

Councillor Jason Rust, Tory education spokesman, acknowledged Ms Tee’s tenure had resulted in some improvement, but added: “There are outstanding issues within the department. Many challenges face her successor, including unresolved matters.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com