The Secretary of State gave the expected go-ahead this week for the two-year Dornoch Academy to become a six-year school. Scotland's only opted-out secondary will now be able to start preparing pupils for a third year from May 1.
Dornoch should achieve what Michael Forsyth called its "full potential" as a six-year school in 1999. But its future is tied to the outcome of the general election with Labour's confirmation this week that it would abolish the opt-out legislation.
The previous Scottish Secretary had rejected an earlier upgrading plea from the school's board of management on the grounds of its inexperience. Mr Forsyth now says the board "has shown itself itself to be effective, efficient and far-sighted and I am confident that it has built up the necessary experience to oversee this expansion".
The Secretary of State also referred to the need to "bring an end to the uncertainty which has affected all local interests".
Highland Region, is convinced that Dornoch could only expand at the expense of other schools. Val MacIver, Highland's education chairman, said the decision to give Dornoch preferential treatment was "galling" at a time when the authority was being forced to close schools to save money.