Acting opportunity

No, not some advert for a stage show.  I’ve been appointed as (Acting) Director of Education and Children’s Services for East Lothian Council. I went through a very rigorous interview process involving a 90 minute in-tray exercise on Tuesday and  90 minute interview on Wednesday in front of a panel of seven elected members.

I’m excited about the opportunity and will try to set out my goals for this period over the next few days.

13 thoughts on “Acting opportunity

  1. Many congratulations, Don, and, speaking as an outsider to your authority, much deserved, I am sure.
    I look forward to reading about your reflections on the challenges of the new post.

  2. Congratulations, Don. A great opportunity for East Lothian Council, too. I’ll be keen to see how this plays in with the journey you had already kicked off as HoE.

  3. Congratulations but a thousand curses! East Lothian’s gain and we can’t have you. Hmm cloning…..possibilities….

  4. I had to google to confirm my understanding of “in tray exercise” and now that I do, I’d love to know what sort of challenges you were presented with and what system you used in order to prioritise them. It also would be revealing to hear what an interview panel considered might greet a Director and then in a few months for you to post on whether you had in fact met any, all or none of them!
    Dorothy

  5. Hi Don,

    I met you briefly at ‘In The Wild’ and Teachmeet07 at the Glasgow Science Centre last year. I’m the Health Promoting Schools girl from Highland. After the inspiring day last year I set up my own blog wwww.louisejones.edublogs.org. My manager Ian Murray checked out my new blog and was pleased to see a link to yours, he also said to say hi as he was at college with you (I won’t reveal how long ago!) Anyway, BIG congratulations on your new post, it’s also great to see a Director being so forward thinking. Hope to see you at future events. Louise.

    P.S I’ve also been in touch with Stewart MacKinnon to see how we can share practice across the authorities. So thanks for that too.

  6. Thanks for all your kind words. Louise – give my regards to the big fellow!

    The in-tray exercise consisted of an “in-tray” – the sort of thing you find in any office – with 22 separate items ranging from e-mails from councillors, requests for briefings, requests for policy statements, budget analysis, calls from schools, queries from the chief executive; press contacts; etc.

    I had 60 minutes to deal with every item and write on the back of each a response and also indicate the level of priority – high, medium or low.

    The second part of the task was to write a briefing paper for council on Getting it Right for Every Child. I had 30 minutes for this task and had access to a computer to produce the paper.

    To be honest it just seemed like a normal afternoon at the office but I suppose that’s what it’s supposed to test – not that the tasks were easy – but if you weren’t used to such challenges it would have been particularly demanding

  7. Congratulations Don – delighted to hear your good news & wishing you all the best.

    An exciting time for Alan, yourself, and all in East Lothian!

    Hope to see you soon.
    -Sally

  8. Congratulations and well done!

    I look forward to hearing more over the coming months about EL’s progress towards it’s cfe and, in particular, the developments in e-learning.

    All the best, Donald

  9. Congratulations Don. In Tray exercises can be pretty daunting and you obviously did well to get through.
    In fact there are several types of in tray exercise. It seems the one you did was a straightforward one. Others are called contingency or interrupted in tray exercises in which you not only have “a normal afternoon in the office” but have to deal with some “off piste”incidents as well. These are usually supervised and often done in a group. If anyone wants more information on the concept or wants to know how they can practice for an in tray exercise they will find more information at In fact there are several types of in tray exercise. It seems the one you did was a straightforward one. Others are called contingency or interrupted in tray exercises in which you not only have “a normal afternoon in the office2 but have to deal with some incidents as well. These are usualkly supervised and often done in a group. If anyone wants more information on the concept or wants to know how they can practice for an in tray exercise they will fine more information at http://www.sales-101.co.uk/inTray.htm

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