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Boards aren't boring

You might think the Scottish School Board Association annual conference would be a rather douce affair. Not a bit of it.

Judging by the past two years, speakers should expect a roughing up characteristic of the famous Glasgow Empire when comedians confessed:

"Audience with me all the way - managed to shake them off at the station."

Last year, George Waddell, the Perth and Kinross education director, was interrupted mid-sentence. But his treatment was nothing compared with that dished out this year to Carolyn Hutchinson, mastermind of the Scottish Executive's revised assessment plans for the 3-14 curriculum.

The assertive Hutchinson ran through her spiel, explaining the differences between formative and summative assessment and how the two can dovetail nicely under the revised system (but don't ask us for a summary.) Baffled by the complexity, one well-heeled gent from a Stirling Council primary awoke from his slumber. "What are you talking about?" he interjected. "This is patronising drivel."

A stunned Hutchinson stumbled to her own defence but the tall gent was not for budging. "I've read your handout. What's your point? What are you going on about?" he complained.

An equally stunned Alan Smith, SSBA president, warned him: "I'll have to ask you to leave."

"No, I won't. I've paid my money," replied the miscreant.

Big Donald MacDonald, the Highland primary heidie, stepped in. "Why don't we go for a coffee?" he suggested.

"Are you going to put me in detention or something?" the unannounced speaker retorted before being persuaded by the looming physical presence of MacDonald to depart for a small refreshment.

A flustered Hutchinson continued, this time to a round of applause. Most of her audience were with her all the way . . .

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