It is with some trepidation that we enter a new year and a new decade. Unprecedented cuts to education spending await us: cuts to staffing levels, student teacher intakes, school budgets and education services - everything from free swimming lessons to hot school meals. The local authorities insist that frontline services will not be damaged, but it is hard to imagine that by cutting many of the elements that add value, they will not impoverish the educational experience of many children.
The coming months are likely to be something of a white-knuckle ride as schools try to deliver a new curriculum with diminishing resources. The need to do more with less appears to have become the mantra of the recession. The Educational Institute of Scotland is right to ask, "Why must our children pay?" (p1). After all, they were not the root cause of our financial plight.
We would do well, also, to remember that many more children are coming to school from homes struggling to cope with the consequences of financial insecurity and unemployment; the classroom may be a safe haven for them. With that in mind, it will be a test of public concern to see how many parents and pupils join the EIS on its march against education cuts in a few months' time.
It will also test the mettle of the new Education Secretary, Michael Russell, to see how he responds to a union-led campaign and the other challenges that await him. His first task, however, will be to get the Curriculum for Excellence assessment framework right. He will not sign it off unless he is satisfied that it is workable, he says. Let's hope he is also able to persuade the secondary headteachers of its fitness for purpose.
Neil Munro, editor of the year (business and professional magazine).