THE NEW school session is here at last - yes! - and heads will have to get to grips with their targets between now and 2001.
Mike Doig, of Cumbernauld High, is proving no slouch at suggesting creative ways in which the targets can be adapted. He proposes a system of target-setting for heads - monitored, of course, by deputes and assistant heads.
"There is no problem in establishing a sophisticated tool to compare like heads with like, using the free meals to which most heads are entitled through doing dinner duty. Of course, this index would be measured on a particular day, and heads out of school on the day of the survey would find that they were statistical aberrations.
"Heads would have to discuss with their senior management teams how they propose to increase their uptake of free dinners, possibly by ensuring that they are actually in school on the day of the survey."
Doig, who edits the Headlines journal of the Headteachers' Association of Scotland, believes the possibilities are endless. Literacy targets should be relatively simple to achieve, with 96 per cent of heads expected to be able to read the latest HAS position paper by 2001. Those who can't should be denied attendance at the association's conference.
Within the three years, numeracy targets would be set on the basis that heads should be able to understand 96 per cent of the statistics produced by the Scottish Office. As for the broad attainment targets, Doig faces up to the complexities:
* A minimum 10 per cent increase in the proportion of heads with a golf handicap of under 20, "thus speeding up rounds during HAS conferences".
* A minimum 4 per cent increase in the number of heads with at least one grievance taken out against them, "thereby increasing the productivity of the HAS field officer".
* A minimum increase of 100 per cent in heidies retiring early, "thus raising the morale of those involved, giving new hope to those left behind".
Such ingenious adaptations of official policy should convince the new Education Minister that heads are, at last, on a roll.