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For a few Dollars less: the life of the HAS

As the Headteachers' Association of Scotland convenes today (Friday) to celebrate its 60th anniversary, invocations at the special dinner will be assisted by a newly published booklet.

The title Scottish Headway 1936-1996 recalls the association's regular newsletter, Scottish Headlines. In 1936, legislation was passed with a view to raising the school leaving age to 15 three years later, but the war was to postpone the change. The men (for they were all men) who ran secondary schools felt that a forum was needed where they could exchange views, and the Scottish Secondary Headmasters' Association came into being. George Robertson, of George Watson's Boys' College, was its first president.

In 1960, the Headmasters' Association of Scotland, as it had become by 1959, reached a turning point: the "Dollar Affair".

The governors of Dollar Academy had instituted moves to dismiss Harry Bell, the rector, because he had appointed a principal teacher of English of whom they disapproved and had expelled two pupils, to which they had taken exception.

The HAS warned that when Bell went, so would the school's membership of the association. The Secretary of State upheld Bell's dismissal, to the HAS's chagrin.

The association reaffirmed the school's expulsion and set up a committee to look at how a head could be safeguarded in "effective discharge of his authority and responsibilities".

Subsequent publication of a booklet setting out powers and duties marked the association's coming of age, writes Sir Roger Young, another Watson's head.

With woman members, another change of name and deputes added to its ranks, the HAS has become a body ministers and directors of education like to keep on side.

Its alliance with the Secondary Heads' Association south of the border was the product of a "treaty" signed in 1988, at a place little known to English heads at that time, Dunblane.

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