A few predictions for 2013 - and for once I feel lucky

11th January 2013 at 00:00
Russell will survive, there may be trouble ahead for secondaries and sloth-like progress will be made .

I'm not generally given to offering predictions. You would not want my lottery numbers, even though statistically they are as good as anyone's, and the best I ever did at the local Tory tombola was win a can of alcohol-free lager.

In 2011, I anticipated Holyrood being a hung parliament requiring three parties to form a coalition and last year I took Hibs to beat Hearts in the Scottish Cup final. I even thought Mitt Romney might sneak it. The reality is that if you fancy a bet, you would find out my tip and go with the direct opposite.

But it's early January and I'm feeling lucky. My Christmas cracker had a useful bottle opener in it and I actually lost a few pounds, despite the seasonal feasting, so I thought I would try my hand at anticipating the year ahead and what to look out for politically.

Michael Russell will survive as education secretary (no doubt I've now jinxed his fortunes) but he will have a torrid time with his Post-16 education bill, which will become the new totem by which to measure SNP unpopularity.

Problems with Curriculum for Excellence will be nothing like those feared; instead, the stooshie over college and university finance will become more acrimonious and divisive The FE colleges, in particular, will find many new and surprising friends. Labour will at last come down on the side of graduate contributions to fees, with improved funding for college students and access learning its spoonful of sugar.

Professor Lindsay Paterson will reveal yet more evidence of how Scotland's secondary schools are failing the majority of their pupils in realising their potential, and the Holyrood education committee will publish an unusually critical report on attainment levels, encouraging more autonomy for heidies to take the initiative.

The sloth-like progress of the independence referendum will have bored everyone except the politicians and schools will make plans, and even begin, to hold their own referenda for pupils as part of "history in the making" lessons.

Independent school fees will continue to climb faster than inflation but the clamour to access them (and teach in them) will continue unabated. Meanwhile Michael Gove's education reforms in England will advance with envious eyes watching from north of the border.

Teacher unemployment will continue to be a real problem - until this year's record baby boom kicks in, in 2018.

Oh, and the one thing I can say with absolute certainty is that the EIS and the SSTA will not merge, although it will be mentioned as being a possibility by the occasional wishful thinker.

That's my list for 2013, so with my record we can expect Mike Russell to look for a job - as a teacher of history-that-never-happened studies.

Brian Monteith, Political commentator, and a former Conservative MSP.

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