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Cosla hits the bright lights

TO INVERNESS (OK it was two weeks ago, but this is a column of record) for a rare outing beyond Edinburgh by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities' education committee - or forum, as it is now known.

This is the nearest the councillors are likely to get to the Western Isles. Readers will recall that a strenuous request earlier this year by Western Isles education chairman Roddy Macdonald for the committee to meet in Benbecula was scuppered on the grounds of cost and time.

It was feared the press would portray it as a junket - yea, even unto Benbecula.

The Inverness compromise did not seem to impress Macdonald. Despite his plea for Cosla to visit far-flung places, he left the meeting early never to return.

The central belters were given a quick tour d'horizon by Highland officials of the problems of providing secondary education in remote places. Of course, there's remote and there's remote, as Jack Findlay, the Highland chief of schools, demonstrated.

Staffing remote schools suffered from the "bright lights" effect, he explained. This had nothing to do with electrical maintenance but the propensity of young teachers from these schools to gravitate to "the bright lights of, er, Golspie or even Inverness". The urban cowboys and cowgirls seemed to take the point.

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