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Fresh starters have plenty on their plates

Nerves, excitement, worry, panic - it's not just the first-years who are finding their feet in a new school. It's the probationers, the new teachers, even the new heads, and it's surprising how similar their feelings are, however much they try to conceal it. Whether it's the former P7s in this week's Kids Talk anticipating the start of life at the big school (page 46) or the probationer in Chatroom feeling ill at the prospect of being responsible for a class for a whole year (page 47), emotions are running high.

Even the old regulars get a certain buzz out of being back. It may seem sad that the summer holiday is over and it's back to the grindstone, but there's a camaraderie and a strong sense of community. For everyone is sharing the same experiences, the challenges of a new curriculum, concerns about possible changes to working conditions and fears for what may happen to teachers' pensions.

It's a big term for announcements. The National Partnership Group, set up to map out implementation of the Donaldson report on teacher education, should be published in September. Slippage from the original date of June will place even greater pressure on the timetable for changing the whole culture of continuing professional development within months.

We can expect news of the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers' talks on the McCormac report on teacher employment, with decisions to be implemented by next April.

Word of the Scottish government's position on teacher pensions should be forthcoming. And the education secretary, Michael Russell, can be expected to have a few surprises up his sleeve - if not for his keynote address at the Scottish Learning Festival in September, then surely at the SNP conference in October.

Next month, Education Scotland will start publishing course materials for Nationals 4 and 5 on its portal, by popular and ministerial demand, and the Scottish Qualifications Authority will run a series of events on the implementation of National 2 to Higher courses.

Teachers worried about assessment will receive the first unit assessment materials for Nationals 2-5 in October, ahead of the original February deadline, and in November, the SQA will run subject specific events on the National qualifications.

So there will be plenty of news to keep up with and good practice to share in the TESS pages over the coming weeks. If Scottish teachers think they have a lot to contend with, spare a thought for colleagues at Waterloo Road, who return on Thursday (page 18), courtesy of the BBC. They are not just coming to terms with the latest curriculum developments, but moving - lock, stock and barrel - to a new country (Scotland), a new base at the former Greenock Academy, and a new independentfree status.

Gillian Macdonald,, Editor of the year (business and professional).

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