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Into the lion's den

You could only admire Ken Cunningham and Kay Hall, luminaries respectively of the secondary and primary heads' associations, for turning up at the directors' annual bash.

Both came armed with wish lists of things that could only get better, to coin a phrase. "Whingeing primary" and "arrogant secondary" were some of the politer collegiate greetings vouchsafed to Jotter (in confidence, of course).

Both were also at pains to say how much they loved education authorities, following Frank Pignatelli's headline speech to secondary heads a couple of weeks ago in which Strathclyde's former education director questioned the need for them.

We are not sure how convinced the directors were. Hall kicked off her contribution by announcing she would not be speaking to the title of the talk indicated in the conference programme.

"Of course, this perfectly illustrates the problems we have with our headteachers," Fraser Sanderson, the aforementioned outgoing president, said wryly. "They just will not do what we ask of them."

And while we are on the subject, Pignatelli's remarks put him in mind of "the damascene conversion of Idi Amin giving advice on democracy".

But there is little doubt, judging by what Cunningham and Hall had to say, that heads are not happy bunnies. They have picked up their balls and pulled out of the teachers' national negotiating committee, protesting that it is just such a body - for teachers, not heidies.

One directorate member was not hugely impressed. "They say they want to be more influential in Scottish education - then they walk out of one of the organisations that offers them the prospect of carrying influence." Ouch.

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