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Audrey May: Dundee’s new executive director of children and families services

Audrey May, executive director of Children and Family Services.
Audrey May, executive director of Children and Family Services.

Audrey May has taken over as executive director of Children and Families Services for Dundee City Council.

Well known in the city, having served as head of education for the last five years, Audrey officially began work in her new post at the start of the year.

As she takes over from Paul Clancy, who led the department for five years before retiring in December, we found out more about her career background and her ambitions for the future.

Having started her career in secondary teaching in Dundee, Audrey says it is a “real honour and a privilege” to hold such a responsible role within the council.

Audrey’s background

Originally from Dundee, Audrey started her career at St John’s High School as a teacher of maths and computer studies.

She was promoted to guidance teacher early on and then moved through the ranks of assistant head at St John’s and senior depute head at Braeview Academy.

Audrey May, during a visit to Dens Road Primary School, Dundee, in 2018.

Audrey then became head teacher at St Andrew’s High School, Kirkcaldy, followed by head of St Johns Academy, Perth, before taking on a role at Education Scotland.

From there, she returned to Dundee to serve as head of education, and now as executive director for the Children and Family Service.

She said: “I never had a career plan – I moved through my career because great people I worked with give me opportunities and encouraged me and have been very fortunate to work with some amazing people along the way.

“They maybe saw some opportunities and some ability, capacity, talents, gifts, whatever you want to call them, in me and encouraged me to go for the next job.

“When I became a teacher, if someone had said to me at the time I would even become a head teacher, I would have said absolutely not. That was not my plan. I just loved being a teacher.

I never had a career plan… I just loved being a teacher.”

Audrey May

“And then I did eventually become a head teacher, again because people encouraged me and opportunities came along and I took those opportunities.

“There was never a big plan, but it’s always been an honour and a privilege. I feel I’ve had an amazing career and it’s just an absolute joy to be back to finish my career in Dundee.”

Mixed emotions

“It’s a real honour and a privilege to hold such a responsible role as an executive director within the council,” Audrey said.

“I’ve already been working with the council for almost five years and stepping into this role gives me the opportunity to be part of the council’s management team, working closely with the chief executive and the other executive directors to really drive forward the very ambitious plans for Dundee as a council as a whole.

“That’s really exciting, to be part of the bigger picture of the plans for Dundee.”

Audrey’s new role encompasses the work and vision she had within education, together with colleagues at social work and justice services.

She said: “I hope to bring a lot of what I’ve brought already to education to move that forward and to hopefully drive improvement here.

Audrey May with councillor Stewart Hunter, last year.

“And I want to bring that land into other aspects of the service and continue to work more closely with these other colleagues.

“But also at the same time, the excitement for me is about learning and continuing to learn because I’ll be working with colleagues who have got expertise.

“So opportunities to learn from colleagues in social work, injustice and justice – that’s all very exciting.

“Of course, that brings with it a huge responsibility, and I absolutely never, ever underestimate the accountability and the huge responsibility that I carry in this role – it’s a huge privilege to be in a position like this.”

Read on to find out Audrey’s top priorities for the year ahead and what she hopes to achieve within the role of executive director.

Paul Fleming, currently a senior regional advisor at Education Scotland, has been appointed as head of education and will take up post at the start of February.

Paul started his teaching career in Dundee, and has worked in Falkirk and Edinburgh as including depute head teacher and head teacher at primary schools and early years settings.

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