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Jotter - Fit like, for purpose

Aberdeen is learning its lessons, or one of them anyway. No sooner had it ditched the director of education post under the previous Paterson regime than it has reinstated it - to some extent. John Tomlinson, one of three officers who help to run education in Aberdeen under the splendid title of corporate director of north neighbourhood services, now has an additional duty - interim director of education.

It will be up to Sue Bruce, the council's new chief executive, to decide how interim he is going to be. Interestingly, her appointment means Aberdeen will, successively, have had two former directors of education in charge (she held that job in East Dunbartonshire before becoming its chief executive). Let's hope it's not a terrible omen.

Surely, it cannot be long before John Stodter, Aberdeen's last director of education who quit at the time of the original changes, steps out bearing a T-shirt with the legend "I told you it wouldn't work" on the front, and "I'll be back" on the rear.

A belter

Critics of the probationer scheme don't realise they've never had it so good, as Tom Hamilton of the General Teaching Council for Scotland reminded MSPs last week. When he started teaching in 1978 at a large secondary school, the assistant head in charge of the 11 raw recruits had clear priorities - the first thing he did was to take orders for belts.

Later on that first week, he proceeded to get rather merry at a staff cheese-and-wine and had to be carried out. Hamilton thought to himself: "Welcome to Scottish education." It was hardly necessary for him to add: "We have moved on considerably."

Farewell

It was tears and laughter as family, friends, colleagues and constituents paid their last respects to Edinburgh councillor Elizabeth Maginnis (Obituary last week). There was a moving tribute from Cardinal Keith O'Brien, head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, to "my friend Elizabeth".

Former Edinburgh Lord Provost Eric Milligan recalled that it was former Hearts vice-chairman and betting man Pilmar Smith who introduced Maginnis to the concept of the "each-way bet." The presence of a Cardinal of the Catholic Church at a Church of Scotland service showed she had taken the idea very much to heart.

Open-mouthed

As university departments across the land brace themselves for the annual onslaught of sixth years coming to their open days, the staff at Glasgow University had their students of the future sussed the other week when one professor told his eager audience about the first-year course: "Part of it is what we call conversational French. If we call it `oral', the boys start to titter."

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