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Developing world

Talk of quality brings to mind North Lanarkshire. Forget old preconceptions: this is the land of "Aiming Higher", the education department's motto which is of course much more ambitious than the national Higher Still programme. "Aiming Higher", after all, has not been endlessly postponed.

Michael O'Neill, the director of education, has just presented his end-of-term report on the first full academic year to his political masters on the education committee. And fine reading it makes, too. Not only has the council been contemplating its own navel, but it has looked outwards, yea even unto Perthshire, Stirling, Clackmannan and Falkirk, which are all busy collaborating on staff development.

But it is not just education authorities along the central Scotland motorway corridor who have been beating a path to Coatbridge. Senior people have come all the way from South Africa, Denmark, Malaysia, Pakistan, Holland and Australia.

North Lanarkshire has even chipped in to help out in Jordan and Palestine, on educational rather than peace-making chores we understand.

But what is this? No mention of the first authority to agree compulsory "career review" with the unions, the first to hold a parents' conference, the first to integrate special school pupils into "age appropriate" primary and secondary schools.

We are delighted to see that people who are "Aiming Higher" are keeping at least some of their good news under such modest wraps.

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