A RURAL school will start the new term under shared leadership after attempts to recruit a replacement for their retiring headteacher failed to find a suitable candidate.

Dorothy Hilsley retired from Yester Primary School, Gifford, after 17 years in charge last week.

The well-known teacher's retirement brought to an end a career in East Lothian's schools which stretched back to her first post at Pinkie St Peter's primary, in Musselburgh, in 1980.

As Mrs Hilsley said goodbye it was revealed East Lothian Council had not found a suitable replacement, despite running recruitment campaigns.

Educations bosses said Gill Whitford, headteacher at West Barns Primary School, would take on a shared headship across both schools on a temporary basis from January 8.

Yester's principal teacher Iain Devereux will support Mrs Whitford in the new role.

The council said plans to re-advertise the headteacher post for Yester were being made for February following the mid term break.

Mrs Whitford has been carrying out a shared headship role between her own school and those at Stenton and Innerwick since the start of the last school term.

A new headteacher has been appointed for those schools, however, with Ronnie Taylor due to take up the post on January 8.

Mrs Whitford is expected to remain as as head of West Barns and Yester for the remainder of the school year with any new recruit not expected to arrive at Yesterday until August 2018.

A spokesperson for East Lothian Council said: "We appreciate that this is not an ideal situation but it will ensure there is leadership of the school by an experienced headteacher during the interim period. We are confident Mrs Whitford will provide commitment and professional leadership during her temporary tenure. "

Haddington and Lammermuir ward Councillor Shamin Akhtar, the local authority's spokeswoman for education and children's services, said: “Dorothy has been a dedicated and committed headteacher at Yester Primary School and she will be hugely missed by everyone.

"Over the past 17 years she has made a real difference to the lives of hundreds of pupils and I would like to thank her for all that she has done over the years to support children.

"I had the chance to see her during her last week and she told me a lovely story that from the age of three she knew she wanted to become a teacher.

"I’m so glad that she pursued a career in teaching in our county and I wish her the very best for her retirement."