Highland Council has come under fire for potentially leaving a school without a headteacher to replace an education boss who was paid almost £1,000 a day.
The council’s interim education boss, Paul Senior, is to leave at the end of this month – after just three months in post – following a storm over his pay.
Local authority chiefs are now seeking to recruit the post from within its own ranks to save tens of thousands of pounds in consultant fees.
Mr Senior’s appointment was mired in cross-party and public outrage when it was revealed that his fee was £936 per day, or the equivalent of almost £250,000 per year.
He was headhunted for the council after the original recruitment process for its chief executive officer for education failed to find a suitable candidate.
Yesterday, the local authority advertised a “secondment opportunity” within its own staff.
But councillor Andrew Jarvie, the leader of the Scottish Conservative group within the authority, hit out about the plan.
He said: “It is a great concern that this council continues to struggle to get applicants from outwith Highland to apply for this substantive post.
“Whilst filling this post is long overdue, I have two immediate concerns. This is clearly being targeted at headteachers and when one goes on secondment, that school usually goes without a headteacher.
“I’m also not sure how sustainable it is to plug gaps repeatedly in this fashion.”
Inverness South councillor Ken Gowans said: “Why was this not the preferred option before? It would have saved hiring someone on the eye-watering salary of £1k per day.
“It is time this Highland Council administration took stock of the amounts that continue to be spent on senior management, when we are trying to deliver front line services.
“These are the posts we should be trying to fill, and where our priorities should lie.”
The advert reads: “We are seeking a dynamic and resourceful executive with a proven ability to lead and inspire.
“With a clear and compelling vision for building upon the excellent education service delivered in the Highlands you will continue to drive forward improvements.
“We are ambitious for our children and with overall responsibility for 179 primary schools and 29 secondary schools serving over 30,000 pupils you will be committed to fostering all Highland children’s achievement.”
The closing date for applications is next Monday, with interviews to take place two days later.
A Highland Council spokesman said: “The Interim Executive Chief Officer for Education and Learning has been advertised internally only and has not gone out to external candidates.
“It is a temporary, six month position open to anyone within Highland Council with the necessary experience. Thereafter we intend to fill the post on a substantive basis.”
In recent years Mr Senior, who is based in Hackney, worked as interim director of education, children’s and adult services for several English unitary, borough, city and county councils.
He was also a former Ofsted inspector and government adviser.
At the time of his appointment he said he was “looking forward to making the region one of the ‘best places in Scotland’ for children to learn and develop”.