For my swansong as head of education in West Lothian Council, I could not have wished for a more gratifying gig. The occasion was the graduation ceremony for the Leaps Summer School at Napier University's Craiglockhart site.
Leaps (Lothians Equal Access Programme for Schools) is a partnership of universities in Edinburgh and the Lothians with the 55 publicly-funded schools in Edinburgh, West Lothian, Midlothian, East Lothian and Scottish Borders.
Many young people across this area have gained access to higher education by participating in the summer school, particularly when their examination results have fallen a tad short of their expectations. Leaps will help them to bridge the gap, but only in return for hard work and dedication on the part of the prospective students.
It is remarkable that 5,789 young people supported by Leaps have entered higher education since 2001, and it is testament to the commitment of the universities involved that more than 65 per cent of these have gained entry to Leaps partner institutions.
The graduation ceremony involved 160 young people, the highest number ever. I was delighted to see that 40 of these were products of West Lothian schools.
Pat Sweeney, Lanark.