The president of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, Glenn Rodger, has urged colleagues to consider new models for delivering education services.
"The model we have been delivering is not going to be deliverable in the future, and we have got to get better at how we do that across local authorities," Mr Rodger told colleagues at the annual conference of ADES in Cumbernauld.
It was crucial not to just pay lip service to the concept of partnership working, but to focus on its outcomes, he said.
Education directors had to look especially closely at their relationship with the Association of Directors of Social Work. "It is something we need to move forward on," insisted Mr Rodger.
It was important to "have a serious look at how we share our services more effectively" and to "look for opportunities to work together", instead of just talking about it.
The Rural Schools Commission and the National Partnership Group were two examples of successful cooperation, and members had come out of them "with a huge level of consensus", he said.
During a panel discussion, representatives of third-sector organisations, the police force, Cosla and senior pupils urged education directors to try to find innovative ways to make use of outside partners to engage young people in education.
Mick Jackson, founder of charity WildHearts, warned that if Scotland did not tackle the lack of ambition in its young people, it would become a "Third World country".
"The lack of ambition is corroding our culture," he said. "But if we get it right, we will lead the world." Young people were "obsessed with justice", he said, and ambition should be created by getting them to strive for more justice, rather than attaining wealth.