'A lengthy catalogue of disaster and failure'

22nd August 1997 at 01:00
As schools return for the new session, we review Brian Wilson's first three months as Education Minister and the impact on schools. Raymond Robertson, former education minister and now Scottish Tory chairman, gives his verdict.

It is difficult to believe that Brian Wilson has been only three months in office as Education Minister, given the lengthy catalogue of disaster and mismanagement for which he has been responsible.

Mr Wilson's term began with his spiteful scrapping of nursery vouchers, not immediately as he had threatened, but a year from now. He then tried to wriggle off the hook of his own incompetence by dishonestly blaming local authorities for a shortage of nursery places.

But parents did not fall for that and they place responsibility for wrecking a scheme that offered them real choice for their children firmly at his doorstep.

That was followed by shameless back-pedalling on teacher appraisal and S1 and S2 testing, to name but two, which left him rightly accused of acting against improved school standards, and being nothing more than the poodle of the teaching unions.

Now he has suffered the added ignominy of Donald Dewar having to step in over his head to resolve the looming crisis over the Government's proposed Pounds 1,000 tuition fees to students, after he himself failed to follow the English lead and exempt Scots students planning a gap year break before entering university.

This self-confessed caretaker minister might as well resign over this latest inactivity. For the students he let down will not easily forgive or forget his indifference to their plight.

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