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Dear candidate,

Thank you for your interest in the post of Executive Director of Education, Leisure and Housing at Orkney Islands Council.

This is a rare opportunity to join our Senior Management Team in driving forward a shared ambition to provide the very best possible services for our island community.

Innovation, energy and drive are our watchwords when it comes to service delivery at a time of challenge and change for local government in Scotland. These are the qualities this position requires.

Our council consistently punches above its weight. Where there is challenge, we look for opportunity. Funding from traditional sources may be shrinking; we are developing ways to generate new income streams from renewable energy that will also play a considerable role in making Orkney carbon neutral in the years ahead.

Importantly we do this in collaboration with our Elected Members, our Senior Management Team, our partners and our community.

This is an exciting time to take on this leadership role at the highest level of the organisation. We have some of the finest educational and leisure facilities in Scotland and, in recent years, we have embarked on an ambitious house building programme. Our vibrant and forward-thinking community is regularly voted the happiest and the best place to live in the UK. Our quality of life is second to none.

As we state in The Council Plan, this council will work tirelessly to safeguard our cherished islands and achieve the best possible outcomes for the people of Orkney. If you relish challenge and share our vision, this role is perfect for you.

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About Orkney

There's nowhere on earth quite like Orkney. Our islands are renowned for their environment, wildlife and archaeological monuments spanning 5,000 years of history. We combine a strong and traditional sense of community with a forward-thinking, ambitious, can-do attitude that makes this a very special place to live and work.

With our top-class education and health care systems, superb sports and leisure facilities, and a thriving arts and culture scene, Orkney offers a quality of life that's hard to match. Excellent transport links serve all corners of the islands, with a wide range of housing available to buy or rent.

To sample life in Orkney for yourself and to be inspired by our islands, view our short film below from www.orkney.com.

About Orkney film

Introduction to Orkney

Lying off the northern coast of Scotland, between John O’Groats and the Shetland Isles, Orkney is an archipelago of over 70 beautiful islands, 17 of which are inhabited.


The total population is approximately 22,000 with approximately 80 percent living on the Mainland of Orkney. Kirkwall, the capital with its spectacular red sandstone 12th century cathedral, with a population of 7,500, it is the administrative centre of Orkney with a good mix of shops, supermarkets and businesses.

The smaller town of Stromness has a population of about 2,500 situated in the West Mainland.

To the East of the Mainland, with a population of around 1,500, are the islands of South Ronaldsay and Burray. The remote and north isles vary in population from 1 person to circa 600. Orkney is a wonderful place to live and work and has been voted the happiest place to live in the UK. Orkney also offers; low pollution, low crime, excellent schools, good leisure facilities, unique wildlife and amazing scenery.

Orkney’s economy is primarily agricultural. Most farmers breed and rear beef cattle of the highest standard, although dairy cows and sheep are also kept. Agriculture generates some £30 million per year, followed closely by tourism and oil. Fishermen compete with seals and sea birds to enjoy the rich bounty provided by the surrounding seas. Orkney is at the forefront of the renewable energy industry in the UK. Wind turbines are dotted around the islands and wave energy research is on-going.

In economic terms Orkney holds an enviable rate of those in employment, with the unemployment rate currently the lowest in the country.


Orkney is truly a place for children, a great place for a family. The community spirit is amazing. There is so much for children and adults - theatre, drama, dance and ballet classes. Schools in Orkney are very good. And for adults visiting relatives and friends there is so much to see and do, playing a round of golf, fishing, kayaking, walking, cycling, diving, wind surfing are but a few. The Pickaquoy centre provides a lovely modern, well equipped sports, leisure and entertainment facility.

Imagine all of these within walking distance of your home and workplace.

Houses and farms are dotted all over the gently rolling landscape and the sea is never more than a few miles away.

The Gulf Stream passes close by giving Orkney a surprisingly temperate climate. Frost and snow do not occur as often as may be expected, but it can be windy with the landscape dominated by the panoramic skies. There are often dramatic changes in the weather and it is said that you can experience all four seasons in the course of a few hours. The days are short and dark in winter, but in the summer it is possible to read or play a round of golf late into the evening in the long days of June and July.


To the archaeologist, Orkney is rich in ancient monuments. Tourists come from all over the world to admire the 12th Century St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall and other spectacular heritage.


The Neolithic village of Skara Brae is one of the most important sites in Europe. It has received World Heritage Status along with the burial mound at Maeshowe and the majestic standing stones of the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones at Stenness.

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Older than Stonehenge, the Great Wall of China and the Pyramids, Orkney's Neolithic sites give a vivid insight into the lives and beliefs of our ancient settlers.

Information for Applicants

Orkney Islands Council

Orkney Islands Council is the smallest of Scotland’s 32 Local Authorities, employing approximately 2,100 staff. As well as the usual local authority services, the Council also runs a Marine Services division, acts as the Harbour Authority and manages Orkney College.

The Council is made up of 21 locally elected Councillors, who represent a total of 6 ward areas covering the Orkney area. Currently there are 18 Independent Councillors, 2 from local political party the Orkney Manifesto Group, and one from the Scottish Green Party.

Further details on the structure and role of the Council is available on the website: http://www.orkney.gov.uk/

Education, Leisure and Housing

Education, Leisure and Housing is responsible for a range of key services to the people of Orkney. Our service encompasses schools and learning centres, Orkney College, libraries, swimming pools, community centres, youth clubs, sports centres and museums. In addition, we manage a range of services - as well as social housing, we support many of the most vulnerable through our homelessness and housing support services; we help learners of all ages overcome barriers to learning; we support communities, particularly those in remote and island locations. We secure valued services to the community through support for the Pickaquoy Centre, a range of voluntary bodies and major festivals and arts venues.

The Schools Service oversees the 21 schools in Orkney; supporting school staff in providing a high quality learning experience for all young people, whatever their abilities. The service is committed to providing an enriched cultural environment for our pupils through the expressive arts and instrumental tuition service.

The Schools Service also manages the provision of early learning and childcare (including links with Orkney’s pre-school partner provider; in addition it offers an Early Years Service (including Home Link) the Educational Psychology Service, Pupil Support and SEAL (social and emotional aspects of learning) Project.

In addition to Schools, we provide a huge range of facilities and services including our museums, the libraries and archive, swimming pools, fitness centres, community centres and town halls, play parks, the campsites and hostels, Active Schools, the Community Learning and Development Service and Orkney College UHI.

Learning and development isn’t just for the classroom - learning should be a lifelong process and aim to create learning and leisure opportunities with easy access for people of all circumstances. Our task is to help people, whatever their age, get involved and play as full a part as possible in the life of their communities.

The Housing and Homelessness Service provides a broad range of housing advice and support services across all tenures. These include: homelessness service, housing advice, housing options, housing support services, private sector landlord registration, allocation of Council housing, tenancy management and participation. Through our scheme of assistance we provide advice, information and assistance to homeowners and disabled occupants living within the private sector.

In addition the Housing and Homelessness Service incorporates Papdale Halls of Residence which is a care service registered with the Care Inspectorate. Its primary purpose is to accommodate secondary school pupils from the inner and outer isles to enable them to complete their secondary school education within mainland Orkney.


The Council Plan and Our Strategic Vision

Orkney Islands Council

Orkney Islands Council shares its mission and values with The Orkney Partnership, which maintains Orkney’s Community Plan. The Council is a leading member of The Orkney Partnership, and the Council Plan supports the strategic priorities of the Community Plan.

Working together for a better Orkney is our mission statement. This is what we are doing and why we are doing it. It guides our actions and our decision-making.

Our Values


Our Priorities

The Council's strategic priorities are:


Orkney is a truly wonderful place to live, learn and work. The natural environment is outstanding with clean air, breath-taking scenery, diverse wildlife and a unique cultural heritage. Our residents enjoy friendly and busy communities, low unemployment, low crime rates, top class health care and education, superb sports and leisure facilities and a thriving arts and culture scene.

The Council does not, however, underestimate the challenges that exist. Our remote and rural communities face difficulties such as an ageing population, underemployment, low wages, a high cost of living, limited affordable housing, low digital access, fuel poverty and challenges for some in accessing essential services.

The Council is committed to the protection of Orkney’s industries, landscape, natural environment, heritage and culture, for future generations. At the same time, we will ensure that our services and facilities are modern and fit for purpose.

In formulating our plan, the Council's Elected Members had to take many factors into account. As well as the public's strategic priorities, the plan reflects national priorities set by both the Scottish and UK Governments and the core services which the Council provides day to day. It must take account of new duties arising from recent legislation, and improvements recommended by audit and inspection teams. A delivery plan has been developed which will list the key actions and projects that will deliver the target outcome under each strategic priority theme.

The biggest challenge for the Council is finding the money to pay for everything it wants to do. Demand for public services is going up everywhere, as people are living longer and needing more health and care services. Orkney has the fastest growing population of older people in Scotland, and we all want to enjoy a long retirement if we can. This means that we must develop our workforce and create opportunities which will encourage our younger generation to stay and attract new young people to our community. In the current climate of austerity, public spending is being cut back and the cuts are likely to continue for years to come.

The Role

Executive Director - Education, Leisure & Housing

Salary: £93,353 (Including Distant Islands Allowance)

Orkney provides a beautiful setting in which to live and work and a wonderful opportunity to combine a fulfilling and challenging career with the best that the islands can offer in terms of lifestyle. Our vibrant and forward-thinking community is regularly voted the happiest and the best place to live in the UK. Our quality of life is second to none. With a rising population, excellent local services, and a multitude of opportunities and facilities to cater for whatever your interests outside of work may be.

We are looking for an Executive Director to lead and build on the already excellent reputation of a wide range of services, including:

In addition, as a collegiate member of the Senior Management Team, the Executive Director will help provide leadership, vision and strategic direction across all Council services. This is an excellent opportunity to be at the forefront of leading and shaping services in Orkney.

Like elsewhere in Local Government, the challenges of improving services, meeting growing demand and balancing budgets are considerable. However we believe that here in Orkney we are better placed than most to meet those challenges thanks to a focus on innovation and a strong leadership partnership between Elected Members and Senior Officers.

To undertake this role, you will already be a highly motivated senior manager with a demonstrable track record of success. You should also have considerable experience at a senior level within education or an education related service. You must be able to evidence strong leadership qualities and the ability to engage successfully with a range of stakeholders.

This post is subject to membership of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme in respect of regulated work with children. A relocation allowance will be available for the successful applicant, should it be required.

Job description - here.

Person Specification - here.

Candidate Information Pack - here.

Role Specific Additional Information

Useful Internal Web Links

Council Plan

Council Delivery Plan

Service Plan – Education, Leisure and Housing

Service Plan Monitoring

Community Planning Partnership

Education and Learning Section on Website

Education, Leisure and Housing Committee Information

Orkney College

Pickaquoy Centre

Healthy Living Centres

Orkney Library

Orkney Islands Council you tube channel

Education of Children – Reports and Publications

External Websites

Property and Housing


How to Apply

We trust that you have found the information on this site both useful and informative.

All prospective applicants should contact Donogh O’Brien or Lesley Drew on 0141 212 7555 for a confidential discussion.

Please note CVs will not be accepted and an application form is required to be completed.

Please note that correspondence regarding your application will be sent by email. If this method is not suitable for you, please let us know.

To apply please download the application form and equalities monitoring form below:

These should then be uploaded by clicking here.

If you have any issues uploading your application please contact Donna Sweeny on 0141 212 7555.

Closing date for applications is Wednesday, 24 July 2019.


Provided below are critical dates which will help you plan your diary.

Closing date for applications:

Wednesday 24th July 2019

Interviews are anticipated to be held

22nd and 23rd August 2019