Driving force behind East Renfrewshire’s educational excellence set to retire

Mhairi Shaw will step down at the end of August. (Photo: Mark Gibson).Mhairi Shaw will step down at the end of August. (Photo: Mark Gibson).
Mhairi Shaw will step down at the end of August. (Photo: Mark Gibson).
The Director of Education at East Renfrewshire Council is set to retire after seven years in the role.

Mhairi Shaw, who has been the driving force behind the continual improvement in educational attainment and achievement in East Renfrewshire, will step down at the end of August.

During her time in the role, Mhairi has overseen significant improvements in the school estate, managed large-scale curriculum changes and ensured that pupil equity has been at the heart of the constant drive to improve attainment for all.

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Her experience and success has been recognised nationally through her involvement in national advisory groups and her appointment as lead for the West Partnership education improvement collaborative.

Mhairi Shaw said: “It has been an honour and privilege to work in East Renfrewshire Council, firstly as Head Teacher of Mearns Primary and subsequently as Head of Education Services, and finally as Director of Education. I believe I will be leaving, although heavy-hearted, with our schools and the department in very good health. I wish all my colleagues, all of our schools, children, young people and staff, my very best wishes for the future.”

Paying tribute to the contribution of Mhairi, Councillor Paul O’Kane, Convener for Education and Equalities at East Renfrewshire Council, said: “Mhairi has been a part of East Renfrewshire Council for 19 years, and during that time has made an immense contribution. She has led a committed and talented team with distinction and has always left no stone unturned when striving for the very best for every child and young person across East Renfrewshire. We wish her a healthy and happy retirement, and she undoubtedly leaves a fantastic legacy which will continue in the years ahead.”

The search is now on for a successor, with the job set to be advertised on 13 March and interviews held in May. This will allow sufficient time for the recruitment process and for a well-organised handover.

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Mhairi qualified with a Diploma of College Education in 1978 and went on to teach in several primary schools in the Lanark Division of Strathclyde Region, before becoming a Head Teacher in 1993 at Lawmuir Primary in Bellshill, North Lanarkshire.

Her last Head Teacher position was at Mearns Primary from 2001 to 2004, during which time she oversaw the transfer to a new school building – one of the largest in Scotland, with a capacity for 900 pupils and 120 nursery children.

In 2004, Mhairi moved to the role of Head of Education Services for East Renfrewshire Council, which included responsibility for early learning and childcare, staffing, quality improvement, planning, inclusion and special education and led the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence in East Renfrewshire.

This wide-ranging remit prepared her well for taking up the post of Director of Education in October 2013.