TRIBUTES have been paid to East Renfrewshire Council’s outgoing education director as she 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.

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.”

Councillor O’Kane said “a huge amount of work” has been done to transform the way East Renfrewshire’s schools operate.

Addressing Ms Shaw, he added: “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.”

Ms Shaw, who was previously headteacher at Mearns Primary, will be replaced in the role of education director by Dr Mark Ratter.

Mary McIntyre, the Church of Scotland representative on East Renfrewshire’s education 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.”

Councillor Gordon Wallace added: “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.”

Council leader Tony Buchanan also paid tribute to the work done by Ms Shaw.

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

Ms Shaw said it has been “a real privilege and honour” to work in East Renfrewshire.

“It’s the longest I’ve been anywhere and I think that speaks volumes about East Renfrewshire itself,” 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.”