Jotter - Gravitas of a weighty issue

12th March 2010 at 00:00

Our MSPs gave obesity lashings of attention in a parliamentary debate last week, with suitable metaphors and puns.

The Lib Dems' Jamie Stone put his finger on it when he suggested that members should practise what they preached and count the calories. That, however, was for the Parliament's, er, "corporate body" to consider. "Keep it in proportion," cried Labour's Frank McAveety.

Others pointed to Scotland's luck in having experts to try and keep us all fit for purpose - such as Messrs Lean and Fry (Mike Lean, professor of nutrition at Glasgow University, and Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum).

As ever, it was the SNP's house academic Chris Harvie who lent the issue some intellectual weight. "Let's take two politicians," he said. "One was a fat, depressive, chain-smoking near-alcoholic who knocked back industrial quantities of brandy and had an aggressive record; the other was a trim, non-smoking, teetotal vegetarian.

"The first was a credit to the Conservative Party and the saviour of his country: Winston Churchill. My description of the other is just about all that can be said positively about Adolf Hitler. We should never prejudge."

A lesson for us all.

Let's find out

We had our work cut out last week to track down someone who could tell us what the new science "schools of excellence" were all about. The latest "action plan" for science and engineering said Torry Academy in Aberdeen would be one of them; alas, it knew nothing. Science specialist Jack Jackson, who first suggested something similar, said that "if the Government have taken up this idea, they haven't told me".

Then a breakthrough. A call to the Government told us schools of excellence were about "utilising high-profile relationships with iconic organisations as hooks to excite and engage individuals in the development of skills for the world of work."

So now you know.

In Don we trust

East Lothian's education director Don Ledingham has finally let the cat out of the bag, as he promotes his plan for "community ownership" of schools - or "trusts", which is not a term that particularly enamours him.

"Trusts may be a direction of trouble," he told a national conference the other week. OK, we've got to spoil it: it was a slip of the tongue. "Travel" was the intended word. Still, you never know.

Lib Dem trap

The Curriculum for Excellence management board met last Thursday, the same day the Lib Dems staged a parliamentary debate on the subject - which meant that Education Secretary Mike Russell could not be in two places at once.

"I cannot attend to hear (the board's) advice because I am here listening to the Liberal Democrats telling me to listen to its advice," he explained.

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