At this year's Scottish Learning Festival, Mike Russell spoke well in his first speech to the gathering as Education Secretary. I am convinced, for what it is worth, that he is the first holder of this office who both grasps the essence of his brief and has a genuine commitment to achieving the best for all in education and improving Scotland's standing internationally.
However, his appeal, "sign on with me for stability" rings a bit hollow. He seemed unaware (or unconcerned?) that, as he spoke, various authorities were applying the simple arithmetic of severe cuts in the name of empowerment to such crucial central support staff as advisers and quality improvement officers - all high-quality, experienced senior staff who epitomise the very attributes the minister seems to want to nurture and develop.
It is ironic that, despite his call to "think different and then do different", the impassioned plea for more and better CPD, made from the floor by Peter Mulvey of Stonelaw High, was swatted away with a response which amounted to "help yourself". If the minister were to apply his own logic, he might decide to engage (as his new website says) with key local authority personnel who have support and development roles (already seriously compromised over the past few years) before the cull is completed.
Tommy Doherty, Association of Educational Development and Improvement Professionals in Scotland.