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November 26, 2012

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Robin Ross

Disappointing to see that the first comment on your article in the Scotsman was such a negative one.

All the small towns I've worked in in Scotland used to have their own council which managed to build huge imposing schools (with segregated entrances for Girls and Boys!)and run their own affairs. No doubt there were all sorts of drawbacks, but everyone knew the provost and their councilor.

Having said that, I do wonder if we really need 32 Directors of Education, paid large salaries, and with huge office costs, when most schools see their first responsibility to the pupils and parents of their own community.

The trouble is, that when I suggested to a Director of Education that we didn't need so many of him or his colleagues, he agreed, pointing out that New Zealand only has eleven. I do not know if his solution was to roll up some regions into bigger units (vis a vis the new police service) and therefore create fewer but even more highly paid directors.

So my question is, how do we make the transition from big region, big salary, big management culture to the kind of small scale localised empowerment and democracy that you champion? My generation seems to have made a dogs breakfast of local democracy, so what does the next generation need to break the present mould?

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