New plans for the provision of children's services should be realistic and ensure that everyone is a winner, a conference heard this week as concern was expressed that schools are not geared up for the changes.
Bob McKay, president of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, told a Children in Scotland conference in Edinburgh: "The plans have to ensure there is a planning gain for everyone, not a planning blight. We should be producing plans which are realistic so that the outcome is that young people are better off within the school, the family and the community."
Mr McKay, director of education in Perthshire and Kinross, told the 200 delegates: "We will all benefit if we work together."
Many teachers spent time dealing with disciplinary issues, he said. "My argument is that if we have children's services plans that allow for early intervention and general preventative strategies the incidence of that scale of disciplinary problem can be reduced. The immediate beneficiaries would be the other youngsters in the class and the teacher."
Mr McKay conceded that most teachers have little knowledge of the Children (Scotland) Act that becomes law next April. The legislation will require local authorities to collect and publish information about all services for children in their area, from education to leisure, whether council run or not.
"There is a great opportunity here to look at a joint planning model which will benefit parents, teachers and the community," he said.
Earlier Lord James Douglas-Hamilton, Scottish Office health and home affairs minister, told delegates that he expected the first plans by 1998-99. "Inevitably they will have to take account of available resources and a careful balance will have to be struck on what services have to be maintained and what can be changed," Lord James said.
Chief executives should have responsibility for the changeover to ensure that social work, education, housing and recreation worked together.
But Sandy Cameron, director of social work for South Lanarkshire,warned: "Funding made available for the implementation of the Children (Scotland) Act has been entirely inadequate."