Let's hope resolutions are stuck to in 2013

4th January 2013 at 00:00

"A new year's resolution is when you try to get better at something," according to the children in this week's Kids Talk - spelling, times tables, being tidier at home, not fighting with your brothers or sisters (page 42). Whether it's Primary 5 pupils or the education secretary in our lead Comment (page 31), the principle is the same.

Michael Russell writes about his goals for 2013 - a school system that carries on with the transformation that Curriculum for Excellence has brought; an agreement on McCormac's report on teachers' pay and conditions; a children's bill that will help to create the best place in the world for young people to grow up and a post-16 education bill that will help to focus on employment for young people.

But he also writes about his fear of teacher action on pensions that could jeopardise those ambitions: "We have come so far that we should not risk any action that could adversely affect taking our ambitions forward in the very best way we can."

The aspirations are good - and the intentions, no doubt. But it will take the utmost political skill, integrity and determination to see them through. It is not enough for the minister to invoke the "appalling behaviour of Westminster on pensions" or the "Lib Dem austerity cuts on the Scottish budgets" when the Scottish government's resolutions fail, or to state that "circumstances and finance have conspired" to thwart them. Nor is it likely to satisfy the teacher unions.

Whatever one might think of the UK government, these are the realities that face the Scottish government and with which it has to deal. That is why it was elected - and if the SNP government wants to show that it can stand up for Scottish interests, it needs to demonstrate that it can manage the hand it is given. Nor can the minister blame teachers if they take action when they feel their government has let them down.

Excellent leadership is the hallmark of an excellent school and required at every level, writes Mr Russell. It is even being taught to pupils in this week's feature (page 18), where they have to decide on the values that matter - honesty and trust come top of the list - and confront the challenges that face them. It is also the hallmark of an excellent government.

So what do we look for in our political leaders in 2013? Honesty and trust are good values to start with. And a fair deal - for all teachers - on pensions, pay and conditions would be good to follow.

We have to hope young Michael in Kids Talk is being overly cynical when he states: "I think adults sometimes don't stick to what they want to do. They forget their new year's resolutions so quickly because they don't want to do them."

gillian.macdonald@tess.co.uk.

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