So, as our esteemed contributor Brian Monteith asks on this page, what might 2011 hold? It is, as he suggests, difficult not to be pessimistic when the noose is slowly tightening around public spending. Some people have a vested interest in taking the "glass half-empty" view of prospects - not, let us emphasise, The TESS. Education Secretary Michael Russell, on the other hand, has a political interest in being a "glass half-full" man and cheerfully urges us this week to eschew "negativity" (p5).
If only we could. This is not a matter of abstruse economics: some people are going to get hurt. As we have previously reported, chartered teachers could become an endangered species, supply teachers may be booted to the bottom of the salary scale and probationer teachers face more uncertainty in the jobs market than the Government would like us to believe. As we reported at the end of the year, job opportunities for nursery teachers are vanishing like snow off a dyke. And, as we report this week (p1, 3), secondary teachers of English and maths have to cope with larger classes in early secondary, while teachers on conserved salaries could lose as much as pound;13,000.
The reason we have couched some of these prospects in tentative terms is, of course, because there will be a Scottish general election in May. In reality, however, whichever party (or parties) takes power thereafter will have to confront the same issues and set out their own spending priorities. In extraordinary times, extraordinary things can happen. If the SNP and Labour are now committed to a single police force and to reducing the number of health boards, it is difficult to reconcile that with retaining 32 authorities in charge of education - especially since reducing costs and duplication is now at such a premium. Hold on for a bumpy ride - and Happy New Year.
Neil Munro, editor of the year (business and professional magazine) 2009.