Resolutions for the year ahead

5th January 2001 at 00:00
Never mind if all of those fine promises we made to ourselves 12 months ago came to nothing. It's time to make new ones. TES Scotland asked some of the nation's great and good to share theirs with us ...

Jack McConnell Minister for Education

"My main resolution for 2001 is to ensure a fresh start for all those in education. I want to put the teachers and pupils in the classrooms at the centre of our education policies and to ensure that all our actions are designed to support those in the classroom rather than demand that teachers in the classroom just support us.

"My policies will direct all our efforts to deliver quality in the classroom and I will be continuing my series of listening events around Scotland in the new year to ensure the views of those at the chalk face shape the way forward.

"On a personal note, I intend to get some exercise and to help my son through his Highers, which he sits in May at his new school."

Mike Baughan Chief executive, Learning and Teaching Scotland

"I remember the enjoyment and the frustrations I experienced as a teacher and I hope that the work of Learning and Teaching Scotland will support teachers by reducing the frustrations and increasing the enjoyment of teaching.

"I would like to develop the magical powers of Harry Potter that would enable me to be present in Learning and Teaching Scotland's Glasgow and Dundee offices at the same time. But it's still wizard to be able to be there 'virtually'."

Ann Hill Chief executive, Scottish School Board Association

"My resolution for the SSBA would be for it to be open, accessible, representative and dedicated to promoting the role of parents, pupils and teachers in school boards.

"I would hope that, together, we can make education work, particularly the exam system. I would also like to see pupils more confident, teachers more appreciated and Government promoting real, active, co-operative partnership with parents.

"For me personally, I will endeavour to safeguard the three treasures in my life, which are my children, my husband and my health. Perhaps this year the diet will work!" Robin Harper Green Party MSP and former teacher

"My resolution is to keep my hand in teaching guitar, which I love, by dropping in at the Steiner School early on Monday mornings on my way to work to give a half-hour lesson to a small beginners' class.

"Music has always been my leisure pursuit and I keep a guitar right by the bed, so I shall also try to practise for 10 minutes every morning - my wife has first bath.

"Politically, I intend to keep chipping away at what I have been doing since elected: to badger the educational establishment into looking at the whole question of the purpose of education; its drift towards training and away from enlightenment; and to get outdoor education, sport, the environment, music and drama firmly back into mainstream educational practice - especially environment and sustainability."

Wendy Alexander Minister for Lifelong Learning

"My educational resolution is to make a reality of lifelong learning. To start by giving youngsters their best ever chance to go to university this year, ending forever the situation where less than one in 10 of those school leavers going to university come from a semi-skilled or unskilled household.

"So, this year, we will create more places than ever before, offer better financial support, include dedicated support for childcare and a real level playing field for institutions with a funding scheme that, for the first time, starts to recognise the true costs of recruitment and retention.

"Politically, for the first time ever in its century-long history, to see Labour re-elected with a working majority, able to continue on our journey towards greater social justice. Sometimes slower, sometimes faster, but always moving forward.

"Personally, fewer formal dinners, more down time, fewer sceptics, more sleep and more true believers in a new Scotland."

John Mulgrew President of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, director of education for East Ayrshire and chair of the working group on modern languages

"My main resolution is not to break the resolutions I make.

"I am looking forward to my year as president of ADES and hope to strengthen further our links with the Scottish Executive and the key national organisations in Scotland.

"In my work in East Ayrshire, and at a national level, I am keen to develop enhanced links between education and the arts and business.

"In the little spare time I have, I hope to improve on my ability in the French language as a particular challenge for the European Year of Languages.

"I enjoy travel and in the summer plan to head for another visit to favourite spots in the United States.

"Finally, I might just manage to avoid any form of do-it-yourself and gardening and spend a little more time listening to music and playing the piano."

Andrew Cubie Convener of the independent inquiry into student finance 1999

"I resolve in the next year not to begin every conversation with 'The Scottish Executive must raise the threshold of repayment of the Graduate Endowment from pound;10,000 I' I think they know how I feel.

"In personal terms, I must polish my shoes more regularly. The late Sir Nicholas Fairbairn claimed you could judge a person's intellect by the shine of their shoes. I look forward to becoming brighter in 2001."

Michael O'Neill Director of education, North Lanarkshire

"Entering my sixth year as a director, I am looking forward to the first year of real growth in the council's budget with all the benefits that will bring for pupils, parents and staff.

"On a personal level, I am a wonderful example of the failure of Scots to master another language. With Higher French from Glasgow University to my credit, I find myself singularly unable to communicate with a 10-year-old French skier on a chair lift during my holidays in France. So, in 2001 I intend to improve my language skills in order to keep John Mulgrew happy!" Craig Brown Scotland football manager and former PE lecturer

"Obviously I want Scotland to qualify for the World Cup.

"I also intend to work to extend the football provision for young people and, as the patron of Scottish Disability Sport, to extend that provision in particular for young people with disabilities. Part of that resolution is to build on and to publicise the excellent work being done by the chairman, Richard Brickley, and his colleagues at Scottish Disability Sport."

Alastair Ramsay Director, Scotland Against Drugs

"I am resolving to continue to make a difference to the drugs problem which impacts on communities around Scotland and to make the case for SAD continuing beyond the end of March 2001 to enable the training of teachers which has been started by the Primary School Initiative to be progressed.

"I am also resolved to lose all the extra weight I have gained attending social events at which I have been representing SAD."

Terry Christie Headteacher, Musselburgh Grammar School, dubbed the "worst school in Scotland" by tabloid newpapers after a controversial HMI report in 1999. Also, manager of Alloa Athletic FC

"My resolution at Musselburgh Grammar is that our S5 pupils get the best ever Higher results at the school and that the school as a whole continues to progress.

"My other resolution is to keep Alloa in the First Division, where we are the only part-time team.

"So, the aim is for success as both an education and a football manager."

Barbara Adams Headteacher, St Peter's Primary, Galashiels, which received a glowing HMI report in 2000

"Lifted by our recent HMI report, we hope to build on our strengths and go forward with confidence.

"In the field of education, my hope is that the rate of implementation of new initiatives becomes more manageable to allow evaluation, amendment and consolidation. With time for these, real improvements would become very evident and make a positive impact on raising attainment.

"The introduction of classroom assistants for non-teaching duties is one of the major initiatives which has led to raising attainment, giving teachers time to focus on teaching and learning. The impact on Scottish education would be immense if EVERY class had this valuable resource. Their part in raising attainment is crucial."

Richard Holloway Episcopal Bishop of Edinburgh until November 2000

"I've been researching and preparing material for my next book for almost three years and I've resolved to get it written and off to the publisher by March 1. It will be called Doubts and Loves: What is Left of Christianity and it will attempt to show that the Bible is good poetry, not bad science.

"My second resolution is a promise to my new border terrier, Daisy. She is still too young for the hills but I've resolved to take her to the Pentlands as soon in the spring as she is able to cope. I've also told her that, in early summer, we'll walk the Union Canal towpath from Edinburgh to Falkirk and take the train back. She says she can't wait!" Janet Paisley Award-winning poet and children's writer

"Resolutions may sem tae be aboot gein up. Thur's nothin I dae I waant tae stop. Thur's a few things I'd like tae start: like finally publishin' ma book ae poems fur bairns; like promotin' the notion oor weans are learned tae read an write their ain tongue as weel as yon haurd second language English yin.

"Ither'n that I'm spiled fur choice. Could mibbe start drinkin' or gaun wi guid men, buy a sports caur, winter abroad - jist keep addin' oan."

Edwin Morgan Glasgow's poet laureate and popular schools' poet

"It will be good for outward-looking Scotland if I make the name Gilgamesh (don't ask but watch this space) as familiar as William Wallace. So that's for 2001."

Joan Lingard Award-winning author with more than 20 books for young people, including the Maggie quartet and Sadie and Kevin quintet

"Resolutions are often repeats carried over from previous years and one of mine for 2001 certainly is.

"It is to renew my efforts to persuade, enthuse and cajole all those involved in the dissemination of literature to children to give a degree of priority, not exclusivity, to the writing of their own country.

"In some enlightened schools, libraries, bookshops and periodicals they already do.

"In Ireland, Irish writers are given priority, as are Norwegian writers in Norway, and so on. Why should Scottish writers not be given similar attention?" Theresa Breslin Children's author and librarian, winner of the Kathleen Fidler Award and Carnegie Medal

"I'm hoping this year to achieve some kind of power over the television remote control.

"As I have no intention of learning the offside rule, I'd like to have a non-Sportscene Saturday Night.

"I've also resolved to equip myself with food rations and the SAS Survival Handbook before undertaking any train journey when doing author visits to libraries and schools.

"And, on that subject, wouldn't it be nice if this was the year that school library provision was made statutory?" Willis Pickard Editor, TES Scotland

"For me professionally the educational year will stop after five months, for I will then draw a line under 23 years of weekly editorialising.

"It would be nice but naive to think that my successor will be able to concentrate on positive developments, the good that goes on in schools and colleges, instead of the follies and fiascos that mostly emanate from officialdom gone mad or misdirected.

"I do think we will get a workable set of conditions of service for teachers and marginally better pay. But I don't think the nation's nit-pickers and number crunchers will follow me into retirement."

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