Home   News   Article

Highland Council’s £105,487 a year education boss Nicky Grant is on ‘approved leave’

By Scott Maclennan

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
Highland Council's head of education Nicky Grant.
Highland Council's head of education Nicky Grant.

The mystery over why Highland Council’s controversial £105,487-a-year education boss Nicky Grant is on “approved leave” reached the Scottish Parliament today amid ongoing conjecture about her absence.

At the February 21 education committee meeting, Councillor John Finlayson first revealed that Ms Grant would not attend because she was on “approved leave”, nor did she attend the two subsequent full council meetings.

The issue of her absence is all the more pressing amid mounting questions over education in the region in what appears to be a crisis due to crumbling schools, questions over the curriculum and low attainment.

So Highland MSP Edward Mountain asked the cabinet secretary for education Jenny Gilruth “when it [the Scottish Government] last met” with Ms Grant and “what was discussed”.

Ms Gilruth told him the last meeting was in October of last year and attainment was discussed, Mr Mountain replied: “That is interesting – no one seems to have seen her since.”

The council’s response prompted more questions than answers. When asked to define what it means by “approved leave” it refused, saying it does not comment on “personnel matters”.

Its response also referred to its “duty” to staff but did not once mention pupils or parents despite leaving the Highlands without a substantive lead officer in charge of education.

Ms Grant has courted controversy in the past after she claimed that primary school teachers were to blame for low attainment figures and her intervention at Alness Academy late last year.

'Approved leave'?

There appears to be a growing number of education staff on "approved leave". Earlier today, we revealed that Fortrose head teacher Jacquie Ross is "absent from work" and the council confirmed she too is on "approved leave".

Again, the council said it would not comment on "personnel matters" and there is no official reason provided for her absence.

The council was asked to define the term, when it entered use and whether it related to maternity, compassionate, emergency or dependency, medical, bereavement leave or a suspension but it refused.

When pressed further as to whether or not its policy was still to be "open and transparent" a spokeswoman refused to answer. Instead she argued that it had "nothing to do with the organisation’s openness and transparency in terms of decision-making and service provision".

But the roles of head of education and headteacher are both integral to “decision-making and service provision” yet the public must remain in the dark why leading officials are absent.

The spokeswoman said: "We do not ever comment on personnel matters, including reasons for leave. This has nothing to do with the organisation’s openness and transparency in terms of decision-making and service provision.

"Employees are entitled to a level of confidentiality and we have duties to staff and others in terms of data protection.

“We have nothing further to add."

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More