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Headline fodder

critics of the previous Scottish Executive who believe success lies in emulating England should pause for thought. Struggling schools south of the border will get advice from an engineering company under investigation for the Hatfield rail crash. The Government hits its recruitment targets - with a big surge in untrained teachers. Hot on promoting numeracy, it appears to have badly miscalculated this year's schools budget. A chocolate manufacturer is encouraging schoolchildren to eat more of its products - as part of a sport and fitness drive. And schools are getting a virtual reality kit to persuade teenagers that there is more to opera than obese sopranos leaping from battlements.

You couldn't make it up. And you don't need to, since it's all true. There are clear warnings for a Labour-led Executive under media pressure to demonstrate new Labour credentials. The first is to beware the assumption that all expertise resides in the private sector. The second is to avoid setting targets and devising gimmicks for the sake of it. The third is to take professionals with you. And the fourth is not to be seduced by the prospect of an easy headline.

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