BLAENAU GWENT Council is searching for a corporate director of education – with a salary of £80,000 per annum for the successful candidate.

The job description says that the council is looking for someone who will “drive improvements” and make “an active and constructive contribution in setting, delivering and sustaining strategic direction for the council”.

The role was carried out this last year by James Harris after he was appointed in February 2013 as joint chief education officer for both Newport and Blaenau Gwent councils, but he has now returned to focusing solely on Newport.

A Blaenau Gwent spokesman said: “We would like to thank Newport City Council for their support during the successful collaborationand for their help in driving forward and improving educational achievement.

“We continue to work closely with the Welsh Government to make sure that we put in place a strong and experienced education leadership team.”

But Plaid Cymru AM Lindsay Whittle has questioned the decision to advertise for a corporate director of education – especially at a salary of £80,000.

“I fully support efforts to improve education standards for our children,” she said. “Blaenau Gwent Council has failed many of its pupils and action is clearly needed to drive improvements.

“But local government re-organisation could be just two or three years away following the Williams Report and is it wise to commit to such a post which may be redundant in such a short period of time and the cost implications of that?

“Welsh Government ministers have spoken time and time again about the importance of local authorities working together where possible. Surely, this might provide an opportunity for Blaenau Gwent to work with a neighbouring authority which already has a director of education.”

The closing date for applications is Friday, January 31.