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Diary - How about a clean break?

It is the mood of the moment. Anyone can run a school. Empowerment is everywhere. I am reminded of the Reverend I M Jolly's famous sermon which ended with the immortal words: "Cheer up my son, things could get worse. And lo and behold, they did."

Who needs a directorate? Who needs councillors? Who needs QIOs? Who needs HMIE? Let's all have a Big Society. Cometh the hour, cometh the plan. You want to run a school? Come on in - the water's lovely.

As always, I have found the greatest wisdom to rest with the cleaners who "do" my office once a week. They deliver a 100 per cent accurate character evaluation of every officer and councillor in the building. They can forecast the weather and they know the price of fish.

Their most telling conversations are those when they think nobody is listening, a wee bit like politicians, really. I often hide in one of the cubicles in the ladies' loos when they are about to start cleaning. I always know they're coming in when I hear the opening remarks: "Ye'll never guess whit ah've heard noo ."

Well the two of them were having a field day. They had heard that they were to be made redundant as the council was getting rid of all its schools and "thon nice lassie" Mrs McElroy was getting her jotters.

The two then mused over possible alternative employment should they, too, be out of a job. "Well hen, we could aye open oor ain skill, ye ken. Ah'd go for a top o' the range yin. A' nice uniforms and guid auld-fashioned lessons, like."

Her partner-in-grime agreed that the toffs' market was the one to aspire to. She described her model school, which, to be fair, I could have supported. They discussed potential sponsors and investors for their new venture, and I was flattered to hear them say that they would want me to be the heidie.

They had already designed their new academies' uniforms and outlined their own curriculum for excellence, before I had to flush the toilet and regrettably announce my presence. Their embarrassment was short-lived. I smiled sweetly and asked them if they had chosen names for their new schools. "Och aye, hen. We'll jist call them after oorselves, like. Mine'll be called Betty's and hers will be Harriet's."

Next morning, I was to meet a certain Mr Almond, a parent who was keen to set up his own school for specialising in Scottish studies. My heart sank when he introduced himself as Glen. This could be my way out of the madhouse. Is there a good Catholic girl called Loretta out there who is looking for an exciting opportunity?

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