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Jotter - Not shaken or shtirred

We can't do better than re-run the headline with which the Sunday Times stunned the world: "Sean Connery poaches jails chief Mike Ewart". It was not a case of shurely shome mishtake - just a bit premature.

The former head of the Scottish Prisons Service only took up his latest job on April 1 - no kidding. Mike Ewart is, of course, better known in this parish as the former head of the education department in the Scottish Executive from 2002 to 2007, and of its schools group before that when he helped broker the groundbreaking (no more cliches please - Ed) teachers' agreement of 2001.

His latest job is to head up the Scottish International Education Trust, the charity set up by Sir Sean in 1971 to give financial support to Scots youngsters of promise.

It won't be quite the same as presiding over the guests of Her Majesty, which culminated in the release of Libyan bomber Megrahi - whose Scottish trial in the Netherlands, by an ironic twist, Ewart had helped to stage while he was wearing yet another hat as chief executive of the Scottish Court Service from 1993 to 1999.

It must have seemed at times that he was living out a Bond movie. His latest role - despite working with Sir Sean - should put a stop to all that.

If it's Friday, it must be .

Talk of Scotland's most famous advocate of independence (Connery, not Ewart) inevitably takes us to the SNP - or at least to Education Secretary Mike Russell. It's good to see him back in this country, after his exhausting travels promoting Scotland in the USA and Canada, blogging his way across 12,000 miles and 29 meetings in five days. Yesterday, it was Musselburgh.

How churlish of his Labour shadow Des McNulty to portray these Herculean efforts as "junketing", while there was work to be done at home on Curriculum for Excellence. We don't recall such a fuss when Labour ministers set off to see the world. The only siren voices were those of, er, the SNP.


Mad Men devotees may be intrigued to learn that the Scottish Qualifications Authority shares an advertising agency with Scotland's favourite soft drink. If life imitates art and the accounts somehow get confused, one reader reckons supermarket shelves might become filled with cans of . Examination Diet Irn Bru. He suggests a catchy slogan like: "Easier to swallow than Nationals we can't follow."


The TESS war on platitudes has claimed another scalp. Borders College principal Liz McIntyre, basking in its recent award as one of the best public-sector places to work in Britain, declared: "Our staff are our most valuable asset."

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