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Jotter - Knotty issue of the neds

Teachers of the 1970s, the active and inactive, have no doubt been reliving old times by flocking to the screenings of Neds, Peter Mullan's portrayal of the Glasgow gang culture of the time.

My, how it must take some of them back. The school sequences were mostly shot in Lourdes Secondary, filled with begowned eccentrics cracking brutal belts. The language is from another age, as in "Sir, can you draw the belt?" and special needs neds describing themselves as "the spazzy class".

But some must also have been taken aback. Look carefully at the school ties worn, occasionally by John McGill, the film's anti-hero, and other pupils in uniform. They bear a distinct resemblance to the Williamwood High tie, surely a vital ingredient in the mix that produces Scotland's "top-performing" state school.

Given that a "ned" is a "non-educated delinquent", such a title would never do for the Williamwood catchment area. A "well-educated delinquent" perhaps? But this is probably a foreign concept in East Renfrewshire as well - "delinquent", we mean.

Tweety pie

Is Margaret Alcorn about to become a national treasure? It's not everybody who is invited to a national conference and proceeds to berate the organisers - Holyrood Events, who had put together a packed programme on the Donaldson review.

Terrible format, wailed our national CPD co-ordinator, pointing to the lack of any room for discussion from the floor. Worse, there was an injunction to turn off mobile phones when she had been in the middle of tweeting. And why was there no Twitter hashtag to allow her to share information with hundreds of people?

Alcorn had had enough. These events were "good for a nice sandwich and catching up with old pals". As for learning anything, forget it.


Talking of conferences - and indeed conference food - we can report that a school leadership event was staged in Edinburgh last week, clearly on behalf of the Egg Marketing Board (or whatever it's called these days).

We were treated for lunch to egg sandwiches, Scotch eggs, quiche and frittata. The only exception was tuna bagels, which someone naughty had clearly slipped in when the organisers weren't looking. A case of teaching granny to suck eggs?

King's speech

Our thoughts at this trying time are obviously with Bernard King, suspended from his principalship at Abertay towers. He must pine for the good old days when he was in charge of the predecessor, Dundee Institute of Technology.

Only recently, he was recalling the stirring ditty which it was hoped would bring in students in their droves:

"From HNC to PhD

You can do it all at DIT."

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