The invisible middle man

7th September 2001 at 01:00
Roger Stewart's article (TESS, August 31) affects to be on the implementation of McCrone. In fact, it is about the three-way power struggle between the local auth-ority, demanding performance and "corporate commitment" from the reluctant major partner in local government; the schools, clobbered every which way, sometimes rightly; and the education HQ seeking to protect its position and to seek to ensure that no one notices it is the "middle man" in all this.

Mr Stewart is right to demand greater flexibility from teachers and schools. Perhaps as he was writing, he might have wondered whether the same pressures might have been applied to the whole of the "elaborate line management" that stretches all the way up to the centre. And designed in, well, actually the mid-90s.

He might also have wondered at what stage resolutely sticky performances across a number of schools in an authority with a self-consciously "strong" centre begins to turn the spotlight on the centre itself. West Lothian's non-teachingnon-school overhead are very high, yet performance remains disappointing.

"Encouraging diversity" requires a recognition that the real opportunities for improvement lie in the schools and in the resources voted them by politicians. I agree with Mr Stewart that structures should be moulded to the needs of young people. It would be best if the task extended to the whole of the delivery and cost system.

T R Clarkson Sedgebank, Livingston

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