Meet the Northern Alliance 

Gayle Gorman, Director of Education and Children’s Services,  Aberdeen City Council.

Aberdeen is a thriving, cosmopolitan city in the North-east of Scotland.  The population of Aberdeen city is approximately 230,350. Education and Children’s Services is the largest service provider within Aberdeen City Council and responsible for delivering key statutory and frontline services in Education, Children’s Social Work, Inclusion and Culture to the children, young people, adults, families and communities of Aberdeen. Children and families are lead partners in all we plan, deliver and support.

Maria Walker, Director of Education & Children’s Services, Aberdeenshire Council.

Aberdeenshire is the sixth largest council and is extremely diverse. It is a large rural area but has significant diversity with suburban areas such as Westhill and large fishing towns such as Peterhead. Demographic and social issues are equally diverse, with a rising school population and an economy based on farming and fishing as well as oil and gas. The post of Director within Aberdeenshire Council has responsibility for schools, children’s social work, community learning and development, leisure, cultural and arts services and the support functions linked to these services. In addition, the Service has responsibility for the administrative areas of Banff and Buchan and Garioch thus bringing an area dimension to the remit of Director.

Bernard Chisholm, Director of Education and Children’s Services, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

Bernard trained as an Educational Psychologist and has worked in a number of Local Authorities nationally.  Bernard has enjoyed a wide range of responsibilities over his 28 years in Local Government including responsibility for Education Services, Children’s Services, Community Learning, Social Work and Leisure Services.

Bernard is currently leading developments within Comhairle nan Eilean Siar in relation to: e-sgoil and on-line digital learning, curriculum redesign, developing the young workforce, business planning and Children’s Services re-design.

Bill Alexander, Director of Care and Learning, The Highland Council.

Highland Council has a population of around 233,000, and covers one third of the land mass of Scotland.   It includes some of the most remote and rural parts of the UK, as well as areas of urban deprivation.  Children and Education Services are delivered by the Care and Learning Service, which brings together community-based child health, education and children’s social care.

Laurence Findlay, Corporate Director (Education and Social Care), The Moray Council.

Moray is a largely rural local authority between Aberdeenshire and Highland. Whilst the eight largest local authority in terms of size, it is has one of the smallest populations at just over 90,000 residents. Moray has 46 primary and eight secondary schools, ranging in size from 10 to 1,000 + pupils, educating over 12,000 young people. The Education and Social Care department is responsible for all early learning, primary and secondary education and wider children’s services as well as leading leisure, sport and library services.

Wilf Weir, Executive Director of Education, Leisure and Housing Service, Orkney Islands Council.

Education, Leisure and Housing is responsible for a range of key services to the people of Orkney. With a staff numbering over 600, in schools and learning centres, college, libraries, swimming pools, community centres, youth clubs, sports centres and museums. Staff at School Place manage a range of services – as well as social housing. The Education, Leisure and Housing Service 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 Picky Centre, a range of voluntary bodies and major festivals and arts venues.

Helen Budge, Director of Children’s Services, Shetland Islands Council.

Helen Budge is the Director of Children’s Services for Shetland Islands Council.


James Cook, Quality Improvement Officer, Northern Alliance.

James Cook is seconded from Highland Council to the role of Quality Improvement Officer, leading Emerging Literacy across the Northern Alliance. James is working with education, health and psychological services across the Northern Alliance to support  Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) settings and schools in taking a developmental approach to Emerging Literacy. James has interests in Literacy, Equalities, Mindset and Creativity.






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