* Nigel Lawrie, headteacher of Port Glasgow High, underlined the call for partnership between schools and education authorities by emphasising the role of heads in working on policies with directors.
That would be particularly important in small authorities, Dr Lawrie said. Inverclyde, which is responsible for Port Glasgow, has only eight secondaries. With devolved management and smaller councils, there was a danger of schools becoming isolated, Dr Lawrie claimed. "There should be a limit to autonomy."
Astrid Ritchie, former Conservative chairman of Lothian education committee, told heads that more than the current 80 per cent of school budgets should be devolved to them. A market-place for councils' services would "sharpen up their act" and discourage the wastage still evident in the new councils and the complacency of some elected members.
Heads should also have the final say in appointments of unpromoted staff. "At the moment some weak and unwanted teachers are recycled from one school to another," Mrs Ritchie said.