Falkirk education boss says we all have a part to play

New director of education Andrew Sutherland
New director of education Andrew Sutherland

The man given overall responsibility for shaping the next generation is looking forward to the task ahead.

Andrew Sutherland is the new director of education with Falkirk Council, taking over from Julia Swan who retired last month after seven years in charge.

The 51-year-old has had a long and varied career having covered every role in his profession from his days in a Glasgow classroom teaching history and modern studies to his previous position as head of schools with East Ayrshire Council.

Now he is in charge of Falkirk Council’s eight secondary schools, 50-plus primaries, eight nursery schools and five additional support for learning units, along with the thousands of staff and pupils.

However, he very much believes that the entire community has a role to play in education and his priority in the months ahead will be to bring everyone on board to take this forward.

Speaking from his new office at Sealock House in Grangemouth, Mr Sutherland said: “I want to get people involved in as many ways as possible.

‘‘One of my main aims is to continue the move away from a world where schools go it alone. Education is all about partnership – people in the profession don’t have a monopoly on wisdom.

“I want us to continue working with colleagues in further and higher education, local businesses, other services in the council, the third sector, local communities, and most importantly, parents and carers.

“With a commitment to working together for a shared vision and through shared expertise, we can help every young person in Falkirk achieve their potential.

“We need to have an outward looking vision to make an impact and my job is to empower others and be creative in how we do that.”

The new director said that Falkirk has an excellent reputation in education circles, although concedes that wasn’t always the case.

He knew the good work his predecessor had carried out and after over three years in his previous job was ready for a new challenge.

He added: “The school estate in Falkirk is in first-class condition and when people are working in excellent conditions, be it teachers or pupils, they will perform better.

“I was also attracted by the whole ethos of My Future’s in Falkirk. Education is a key part in regenerating a community and the work being done around MFiF is producing some very exciting opportunities.

“It is very important that we tie education in with the regeneration programme and ensure that there is a broader skill set available when it is required.”

A father of two grown-up daughters, the director realises that it is important to listen to people and is keen to get out and about to meet as many people across the district as possible – teachers, pupils, education staff, elected members, business leaders and parents and carers.

He said: “I’m happy to speak to people or use all forms of information technology to keep in touch with people.

‘‘I’m also keen to bring parents into schools which are undergoing a time of great change, particularly through Curriculum for Excellence, to let them see for themselves what is going on.

“I’m keen to use the best of what I’ve learned over the years – and the worst – to continue the good things already achieved in Falkirk.”