It was with regret that I had to bring my term of office to an end but, having experienced a now prolonged period of poor health and having come to recognise that a ministerial lifestyle is not conducive to either the promotion or maintenance of my health, I decided to stand down and give my health priority.
I have enjoyed enormously the opportunity to have made a contribution to the development of Scottish education over recent years. As those of you who have heard me speak, or whom I have met on my travels will know, I believe we have huge strengths in our education system. Compared with many in Europe and more widely, we can have confidence that we lead thinking and policy in many aspects of education.
However, complacency would be our enemy and, much as we have strengths, so I have been explicit about the challenges we also face and must overcome. I believe that can be done with confidence and I intend to be supportive of further progress, now from the parliamentary backbenches.
For the comradeship, the frank advice, the debate, the courtesy, the good humour and the willingness to make important changes, can I offer a sincere and personal thanks.
Peter J Peacock