DESCRIBING a plan to shelve the Scottish Government’s flagship schools legislation as “fast-tracking” was always going to be a hard sell.

John Swinney, the Education Secretary, gave it his best shot telling Holyrood an agreement with councils meant reform could happen without the need for an 18 month delay.

In truth Mr Swinney had the air of a funeral director presiding over the untimely demise of his Education (Scotland) Bill.

It is difficult to see how it can be resurrected. The simple truth is there was no support for legislative change either in the wider educational community or, crucially, within the Scottish Parliament.

Teaching unions and parent groups expressed concern about the setting up of new regional support bodies because they reported directly to Education Scotland.

Councils were equally alarmed by plans for a Headteachers’ Charter which would enshrine in law new powers for school leaders over the curriculum, hiring of staff and finances.

No one supported plans to scrap the General Teaching Council for Scotland watchdog and replace it with a new Education Workforce Council.

Although secondary headteachers were most receptive, even primary heads baulked at such an increase in responsibilities at a time when schools are struggling to fill leadership posts.

Even with these reservations it would have been hard to see Mr Swinney backing down if he had been able to secure cross party support.

Because the Bill was rejected by the Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Green Party it left him with the potentially toxic option of relying on the Scottish Conservatives.

There is no doubt this episode has been damaging to Mr Swinney’s reputation as a safe pair of hands.

But it is also true that the agreement with councils could deliver some of the changes Mr Swinney wants.

A key complaint about the Bill was that it was simply not necessary because of existing arrangements such as devolved school management which already sees significant powers and finance handed to schools.

The regional support structures are already in place without legislation and there is no reason why the Headteachers Charter could not be established in the same way.

Nonetheless, it is a far cry from the sort of radical legislative reforms promised by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in September 2017.