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Salmon are shining for Peacock

The new Minister for Education and Young People has a fair idea what punters think of politicians. Three years ago Peter Peacock said they had been likened to "salmon in the moonlight - shining and stinking at the same time".

Three years ago, Mr Peacock was deputy on the education beat to Sam Galbraith and as The TES Scotland reported after the first year of the Scottish Parliament: "(His) star is clearly in the ascendant: he is a master of the difficult art of summing up at the end of parliamentary debates and to him fell the big job of guiding the education Bill through committee."

While Mr Galbraith was seriously damaged by the Scottish Qualifications Authority fiasco in August 2000, his depute emerged unscathed.

Labour's new minister could be forgiven for thinking that little moves quickly in education. As a champion of continuing professional development, he helped launch a national strategy that is only now being put into practice.

In an article three years ago, he wrote: "I want to see teaching become recognised as the leading learning profession, constantly adapting to change and new challenges. The professional status of teachers needs to be enhanced."

As he sifts through the civil service brief, Mr Peacock, 51, will also see that another old favourite - special educational needs - will be back on the front burner with fresh legislation and a raft of new policies imminent.

The steady ascendancy of the former convener of Highland Region saw a move sideways to handle local government and finance after the death of Donald Dewar in the first ministerial reshuffle and then on to finance and public services.

He was recently credited with pulling the strings to ensure fairer financial distribution for councils, including Highland, which claimed they had lost out in the post-McCrone funding allocations.

Mr Peacock was involved in talks which led to the latest coalition deal and will be familiar with the agreed education agenda for the next few years.

His depute is Euan Robson, former Liberal Democrat deputy parliament minister.

Jim Wallace, Deputy First Minister, will lend authority to the further and higher education sector after taking over at enterprise and lifelong learning. His depute is Labour's Lewis Macdonald.

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