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Speaking frankly

As we reported in this column last week, Holyrood's education committee has been getting its teeth into motivational matters - but not just as it affects pupils.

At a workshop led by the psychologist Alan McLean, he asked the MSPs which of them considered they had high self-esteem. Only two confessed, both Labour backbenchers, as it happens - former minister Frank McAveety and Ken MacIntosh.

The rumbustious McAveety offered an intriguing explanation: "If I hadn't put up my hand, somebody would have said I was lying."

The ever-ready jester also had a rejoinder to hand when Lord James Douglas-Hamilton, the Tories' education spokesman, revealed that Field Marshal Montgomery was a fine example of an inspirational figure - citing his visit to a school where he told the pupils: "If I can do it, then you can do it."

"Except for the wee German boy in the corner," McAveety quipped.

Continuing his exploration, McLean wondered what MSPs found demotivating.

"The Parliament's press pack," appeared to be the consensus: they just criticise everything for the sake of it.

Now what would be the school equivalent, we wonder?

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