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Score draw

Douglas Osler was not the only person to avoid giving Jack McConnell a hard time last week. An unlikely source of praise was Bill Fitzpatrick, outgoing president of the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association, who told delegates at the union's annual congress (page seven) that the Education Minister "seems to know what he is talking about".

"I don't know if that is more damaging to his credibility or to mine," McConnell quipped. He had just returned to domestic duties from a trip to Poland, whee he neatly combined his "triple E" portfolio of education, external affairs and Europe.

Despite being there on the day of the Scotland-Poland football match, he dutifully stuck to his brief and did not attend (although, he said cheerfully, he was happy to claim credit for the result - a 1-1 draw, as it happens).

He discovered that 17-year-olds in Poland are taking a leaving exam based on the Scottish model. "I was told they were nervous," he said. "Not half as nervous as I am."

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