Laying it on the line

29th April 2005 at 01:00
It's difficult to believe that headteachers did not use to be all-powerful. But there was such a time, Lindsay Roy, the secondary heads'

heidie, reminded us last week.

Roy was recalling his first experience of devolved school management at an Edinburgh conference on, appropriately, education reform. It was before the official introduction of DSM and it was his first day in post. The real power in the school, the head jannie, informed Roy that the painters were in to paint 12 classrooms.

"I asked him if they were all in need of decoration," the Inverkeithing High head said. "He looked at me as if I had horns and said in an exasperated voice: 'If they're on the line sir, they must be needing done'."

Twenty minutes later, the jannie agreed "reluctantly" that not all were in real need of attention. The foreman, however, took the same unbending view:

"If they are not on the line, they can't be done."

The jannie knew what had to be done and proceeded to tape new numbers on the eight doors of the rooms to be redecorated. He did not take kindly to it - but, so long as they conformed to the numbers on the line, he was happy.

"The head janitor quickly grasped the new system," Roy said, "asking property for the next phase of rooms well in advance."

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