A common thread runs through governments which are nearer the end than the start of their time in office. The disconnect between the government and the people migrates from non-existent, to slight, to absolute, particularly in terms of policy, which becomes increasingly obscure, and increasingly detached from the priorities of the people.

Simultaneously, the walls of the bubble which encompasses the government in question get thicker and more impenetrable. Far from understanding why things are going badly, ministers tend to reject the premise entirely in favour of self-affirmation from an ever smaller group of like-minded confidants.

Once loved and lauded, the electorate goes through stages of change, which usually ends up in contempt, and desperation for a replacement government. This is not a peculiarly Scottish or even British problem; we can see a raft of examples globally of popular leaders and popular parties which limp towards defeat.

From Jacinda Arden’s Labour Party in New Zealand (although she saw the writing on the wall and made an early escape before her successor was skelped in last year’s general election) to Justin Trudeau in Canada, walking on political water a decade ago but likely to sink to the bottom of Lake Superior in next year’s general election.

And, of course, here, with the ludicrous Westminster Conservative Party about to be defenestrated after a spell of 14 years in office which started with a pin-up Prime Minister easy for most people to swallow, and ends with an MP luring his colleagues in a honey-trap, with Brexit and Covid lockdown parties in between.

Where is Scotland, in this? That remains unclear. The governing SNP is, almost certainly, nearer the end of its time in office than the start; by the time of the Holyrood election in 2026 it will have completed an astonishing 19 years in office. And that disconnect between the priorities of the government and the priorities of the people has substantially widened since the SNP’s decision to bring the Green party into government, bringing it stability inside the parliamentary bubble but opprobrium outside it, as evidenced by a persistent downward trajectory in polling over the last three years.

Nonetheless, unlike in New Zealand and Canada and the UK, in Scotland this party of government is "no deid yet". It may still win the Westminster General Election in Scotland. And, irrespective of whether or not it does they will have two years and a solid-enough base from which to attempt to hang onto power by its fingertips at the Holyrood election.

In order to do so, though, ministers will need to raise their eyes above the walls of the Edinburgh buildings they work in and read the mood of the people outside it. They would do well to start with Scotland’s schools.

It is a decade since Nicola Sturgeon - Scotland’s Trudeau, with eye-popping popularity ratings - declared her time in office to be dedicated to improving Scotland’s education. She is often, nowadays, criticised for failing. But it is too easily forgotten that, along with her Deputy, and Education Secretary, John Swinney, Ms Sturgeon attempted nothing short of a revolution in school governance, which could have been the foundation stone for Scotland’s academic renewal.

In what seems like a political lifetime ago, Mr Swinney said: “At the heart of all our reforms is a simple plan. We will free our teachers to teach; we will put new powers in the hands of our headteachers; we will ensure that parents, families and communities play a bigger role in school life and in their children’s learning; and we will all - Government, councils and agencies - support our schools to do what they do best: transform the life chances of our children.”

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In the end, Scotland’s all-powerful teaching unions put the Scottish Government back in its box and decapitated the plan, cementing their authority and condemning teachers and pupils to a failing system, completely out of kilter with the successful models operated throughout the rest of the developed world.

Last weekend, though, in the annual Sunday Times high school league table, we were reminded again of what might have been. Jordanhill School in Glasgow, as it does every year, left every other school in Scotland in its rear view mirror. Even schools with a similarly low level of deprivation cannot come close to matching Jordanhill’s level of attainment.

But Jordanhill, of course, is not run like the others. It is funded by taxpayers, like every other school, but instead of being run by the local authority, it is run by a board of governors made up of parents and staff, with a series of professional advisers and a rector who implements the decisions the board makes. Unlike in other state schools, in which the headteacher is made to understand that they are answerable to the local authority, Jordanhill’s rector is answerable to the parents and the teachers.

The Herald: Jordanhill School has often been top of the school league tablesJordanhill School has often been top of the school league tables (Image: Newsquest)

It’s rather like what Mr Swinney wanted, is it not?

What might have been, and what might be again. In charge of education at St Andrews House, now, is a most interesting Cabinet Secretary in Jenny Gilruth. Ms Gilruth quietly entered government during the Derek Mackay furore, in the quiet ministerial brief of Europe and international affairs. Coping well, she was shifted to the political graveyard of Minister for Transport, an industry dominated by burly machismo. She did not blink, and her reward came in her promotion to Cabinet as Education Secretary.

Earlier this week Ms Gilruth said of Jordanhill: “I think it is an interesting model. I think there is more we can learn from Jordanhill that we are perhaps not learning.” That is good, for now. But she should pursue it with gusto.

Handing the running of schools over to parents and teachers is not a sufficient condition to solve all of the many problems Scottish state education has, but it is a necessary one, and it would at a stroke accelerate that journey.

There would, of course, be blood on the carpet. The trade unions, petrified by the thought of losing their power in a decentralised model, would have to be fought. No doubt, so would some of those with positions of power in the Scottish Government.

But I see a fire in Ms Gilruth, and I think we should watch this space. If the Scottish Government wants to reconnect itself to the priorities of the people, giving them control over their children’s schools would be rather a good place to start.