Tributes paid to East Renfrewshire’s education director

Tributes have been paid to East Renfrewshire Council’s outgoing education director who retires this month.

Mhairi Shaw, who had been set to finish in August, delayed her retirement to help the council respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.

After seven years in the role, she has now delivered her final report to East Renfrewshire’s education committee.

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At the end of the meeting, Councillor Paul O’Kane, who chairs the committee, said: “I want to pay tribute to Mhairi for her amazing work.

“Not just as director of education in more recent times, but her 19 years of service here in East Renfrewshire.

“As a committee, we have certainly always found her to be helpful, reliable, well informed and willing to share information with elected members.

“We’ve been through a huge amount of change in your tenure as director.

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“Not least building new schools, whether that be a revolutionary shared campus between Calderwood Lodge and St Clare’s or whether that be a brand new school, the first brand new school we’ve created in East Renfrewshire at Maidenhill.”

He added: “There’s been a huge amount of work done to try and transform the school estate and how our schools operate.

“You’ve done a huge amount in terms of learning and teaching, continuing to drive up standards, improve excellence and equity.

Ms Shaw, who was previously headteacher at Mearns Primary, will be replaced by Dr Mark Ratter.

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Mr O’Kane said: “I think the delay of your retirement speaks so much about you as a person, which is that the priority for you wasn’t your own interests, but the interests of, first and foremost, our young people, our staff, your colleagues and the council as a whole.

“Your leadership throughout this unprecedented time has been so valuable, because those years of experience have really helped us to navigate this crisis.”

Mary McIntyre, the Church of Scotland representative on the committee, was on the panel which appointed Ms Shaw to Mearns Primary.

She said: “You’ve done a fantastic job, the children have benefitted immensely from your leadership and I just wish you the very, very best in the future.”

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And Councillor Gordon Wallace said: “Speaking as an opposition member of this committee, can I just say how desperately difficult it has been to try and find fault.

“I’ve always found you extremely approachable, very, very helpful and there’s no question about the passion you have for the education of our children.”

The council’s leader, Tony Buchanan, said: “I think it’s fair to say that East Renfrewshire is in a fantastic position and a huge amount of that has to go to the work you have carried out.

“To keep us year after year as the top performing authority has been a fantastic outcome.”

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Ms Shaw said: “It’s the longest I’ve been anywhere and I think that speaks volumes about East Renfrewshire itself.

“It has been a real privilege and honour to work in East Renfrewshire. It has also been really rewarding.

She added: “I’m leaving you in excellent hands. I know Mark will be a very different director, but he will bring his own style and his own stance and I’m sure you will support him well.”

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