Assistant director for education and skills

An exciting opportunity has arisen for an assistant director for education and skills in the children and young people's service at North Yorkshire County Council.

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  • We are looking for someone with a proven track record in educational leadership.


Thank you for your interest in this post.

North Yorkshire is England’s largest county and a beautiful, vibrant place to live and work.

North Yorkshire County Council has a reputation for delivering high quality services. Its children’s services are nationally recognised for their excellence, taking a national lead to spread best practice.

The recent independent Local Government Association (LGA, 2016) peer review was one of the most positive reports they had ever written: ‘North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) is a very good council – its services are highly regarded and the peer review team witnessed areas of excellence… [it] has a clear understanding of the challenges and the opportunities that the county council and the county face.’

The annual LGC Awards are among the most coveted awards to local authorities and we were delighted to be shortlisted in four categories for the LGC Awards 2017, including the Council of the Year and Children's Services category. We were up against very stiff competition but were delighted to win Partnership of the year for our Children and Young People's Multi-agency Screening Team. We were also very pleased to be given 'highly commended' for both Council of the Year and for our Children's Services. This success clearly indicates the commitment and professional expertise of our workforce as well as our creativity and 'can do' attitude in the face of challenging times.

We believe the role of assistant director education and skills is a great career enhancing opportunity for someone with the passion, ability and drive to address key education challenges in the context of both national and local reform. Whilst the education world is going through a period of nationally driven reform, this LA’s commitment to a great education for all is unshakeable. Education is the most important gift we can give to our children. Young and Yorkshire 2 rightly recognises education as our greatest liberator. It makes the greatest difference to outcomes for individuals and communities.

You will work across a broad portfolio, including leading a committed, well respected team of specialist advisors with a clear strategic focus on enhancing outcomes for all children and young people.

In the video below, I talked briefly to Paul Brennan about some of his highlights and challenges during his time in the role of assistant director education and skills.


Education in North Yorkshire is delivered across 372 schools, 12% of which are currently academies and in close partnership with further/higher education and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). We are proud of our collective track record with 87% of children going to a good or outstanding primary school and secondary schools. . We have seen significant progress against our ambitions for improvement and the results achieved by students in secondary schools remain some of the best in the country.

However we do have significant challenges. There is a recognised need to have a differentiated approach to educational attainment in our rural and coastal communities, raising ambition and aspirations for the young people of those particular communities. The gap between those on free school meals and the rest is also wider than we would wish to see and we have significant numbers of small primary and secondary schools in rural locations. Innovative approaches and targeted investments are in place to address these challenges.

We have currently retained a significant staff team that delivers the school improvement function. This role will lead, shape and influence this service to further transition from a historically traditional approach to a more facilitative, collaborative, commissioning, commercial and targeted model underpinned by consistency, quality assurance and robust service delivery.

We have to find ways of improving excellence for every child against the odds and to do this we need an assistant director of education and skills services with vision, leadership, commercialism and the drive to meet challenges head on. We need someone who can work successfully with key stakeholders and take them with us to realise our collective aims.

We have positive and highly valued partnerships with professional associations, members, partners and schools that robustly deliver mutually beneficial outcomes for children and young people. Building on these foundations we are looking for someone to lead these partnerships through the challenging and changing landscape. No local authority, or school is an island. Only through deep collaboration will we all, together, as the leaders of this system, achieve the best we can for all our children and young people.

This position’s primary remit is the delivery of education and skills services to schools across North Yorkshire, however it also includes the delivery of a range of service areas including outdoor learning, instrumental music and adult learning. We have seen a far more commercial mind-set and considerable trading success in these service areas over the recent period.

The post holder will be a member of children and young people’s leadership team and we are looking for someone who will be a strong corporate player; to look beyond specific professional areas of education and skills, and children’s services for the good of the council and its communities as a whole.

If you are interested in meeting the challenge in North Yorkshire, then we look forward to your application.

As director of the children and young people's service for North Yorkshire, I am very excited about the prospect of appointing to this pivotal position. Some LAs prevaricate on recruitment to such a portfolio - North Yorkshire has not. It provides the post holder with an opportunity to lead, shape and influence significant change and improvements in children and young people’s outcomes across the county. It provides career progression for future DCS applications or an opportunity for an experienced educational leader to deliver further improvement in one of the largest authorities in the country.

As an authority we are highly ambitious in the outcomes we seek for all children and young people. As we say in “Young and Yorkshire”, our children and young people’s plan, we want life chances increasingly to be in their own hands and not determined by geography or family circumstances. We also want to be an inclusive authority with high quality education provision and support which works well together across the spectrum of need, whilst meeting the reality of public sector funding.

North Yorkshire has a growing reputation for its children and young people’s service with successful Ofsted outcomes and award winning innovation programmes. As a result, the LA is one of the DfE “Partner in Practice” authorities. It is certainly an LA which recognises the need for creativity and collaboration and for greater engagement of all in finding new solutions to historic challenges.  We have released resources for sector-led school to school improvement and are still despite challenging financial times willing to invest in change programmes which deliver both improvement and recurring savings.

Recommendations from “The North Yorkshire Commission for School Improvement” are now implemented and that collaborative work described the importance of a good education as follows:

“High quality education transforms lives. It brings alive knowledge and skills and ignites enterprise and endeavour. It liberates the talent and ingenuity of everyone it touches…we are determined that every young person in our schools must have access to the right opportunities, experiences and support that they need to succeed.”

This passion for education continues to drive us. Most children and young people in North Yorkshire already receive a high quality education. The majority of our schools and settings are good or outstanding. Many pupils do well at school, obtain good qualifications, and succeed in life after school. But this is not true of all children or all parts of the county. We want more schools and settings to become good or outstanding so that more children and young people benefit from a high quality education. We want more pupils to do well at school and in their early year’s provision, especially those who might need extra help such as looked after children or children from low-income households. We want to increase the number of school leavers who are properly prepared to succeed in their next steps, whatever and wherever they are. And finally, we want to ensure that we have sufficient and sustainable schools to meet the predicted changes in the county’s population.
We have sought and hopefully achieved collaborative arrangements which promote the right balance of individual school autonomy and a shared commitment to improvement. Though further deep collaboration we can all demonstrate our joint moral purpose as the leaders of this liberating education system. In that debate institutional and provider status has been of lesser importance than ensuring outcomes for all children and young people are delivered. However we recognise that a move to a fully academised system will be challenging in an area which currently has limited MAT capacity and a significant number of small and faith based schools. We also know that regardless of the political support for the education agenda the current LA investment is not sustainable in the longer-term. New models and roles are needed and the post holder will be pivotal in shaping that further transition; acting with clear integrity, transparency and purpose. At the same time such changes may also bring amendments to portfolio responsibilities without a loss of key focus on the education and skills agenda.

Therefore we continue to:

  • ensure that strategic coherence is in place which enables schools to collaborate and develop purposeful partnerships to improve the quality of teaching and learning;
  • build capacity across the education system so there is a willing, skilled and ambitious workforce to lead our ambitions for children and young people;
  • champion the needs of vulnerable children and young people so there is an inclusive learning system for all;
  • commission home to school transport in an efficient way, promote appropriate independence for young people and support the wider transport networks so communities benefit; and
  • ensure a sufficient supply of good education places including early education and child care and sufficient local provision for pupils with enhanced learning needs.

We will continue to play a unique role in understanding and shaping arrangements to meet the holistic needs of our children and young people – their employment, health, leisure, education and skills needs.

Since I joined NYCC earlier this year I have been continually impressed by the openness and indeed consistent restlessness for leadership which is both ambitious and inclusive within North Yorkshire County Council. It is that which will make the greatest difference and which will ensure this beautiful place is also one of the very best places for our children to grow up.

Thank you for your interest in this role, if we can assist in any way in helping you refine that interest then please do not hesitate to contact me directly on 01609 532146 we welcome and encourage further conversations regarding the role.

I look forward to receiving your application.

Stuart Carlton
Corporate director - children and young people’s service, North Yorkshire County Council

Key documents

Key documents providing further information:

Assistant director of education and skills, children and young people's services
Location: North Yorkshire, Northallerton

Salary: Circa £95k

Are you passionate about driving education in a changing landscape? Are you an inspirational leader?

We are looking for someone with a proven track record in educational leadership and raising education and skills performance. A person able to demonstrate innovative and visible leadership, deliver strategic vision, with a sharp focus on strong performance management in an increasingly commercial world. You would be joining, geographically, the largest and amongst the best local authority and children’s services in the country at a very challenging but exciting time.

North Yorkshire County Council is pursuing ambitious plans for transformation. We face the steep challenge of balancing the need to make large-scale efficiencies with our plans for modernisation, whilst working through what is an ever-changing educational landscape, and the delivery of excellent service outcomes. Great progress on that journey has been made; we have the ability to invest the resources necessary to ensure that our priorities are met now and into the future.

This role is to lead our education and skills service which is evolving, this requires the post holder to act with clear integrity, transparency and purpose to achieve deeply collaborative and strategic partnerships with educational leaders; in the aim of raising education and skill attainment for every child in this incredible county. Education is the most important gift we can give to our children and is our greatest liberator.

To find out more about what it is like to work at North Yorkshire County Council take a look at the following video:

For an informal discussion about this opportunity please contact Stuart Carlton, corporate director of children and young people's service on 01609 532234.

For a discussion with the current post holder please contact Paul Brennan, current assistant director for education and skills on 01609 532166.

For a discussion regarding the recruitment process please contact Sarah France-Gorton, principal adviser resourcing solutions on 01609 798106.

To apply please send your CV including a personal statement in one word document to by midnight on 4 January 2018.

It is important that your CV includes: your full contact details (telephone, email, address), full employment history (name of employer, job titles, dates of employment and salary), full education history (qualification, grade, dates and name of place of study), explanation of any gaps in employment and the contact details of at least two referees including your current/most recent employer. You must indicate whether you provide us with the authority to contact each referee prior to interview. Your personal statement should outline your motivation for applying and how you meet the criteria for the role as detailed in the person specification below.

We will not accept applications from agencies.

This is a politically restricted post.

We provide comprehensive benefits and relocation packages, details of which are available below. Perhaps more importantly, we believe that you will be welcomed into a truly inspirational team and innovative, successful organisation.

Key documents

 Job description and person specification (pdf / 481 KB)
 Benefits brochure (pdf / 1 MB)
 Relocation policy (pdf / 180 KB)

Key dates

  • Closing date: 4 January 2018
  • Interview and selection dates: 17 and 18 January 2018

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