He believes there is cause for "considerable optimism" in the future of Scottish education. Looking back on the situation when he was the deputy education minister under Sam Galbraith, he recalled:
* Relations between the unions and education authorities had collapsed with the former Scottish Office taking "the strange view" that it had no part to play.
* Continuing professional development was "very clearly" a weak part of the system.
* Probationers were poorly treated.
* There was talk of the need to stimulate a national debate.
* No strategy existed for school buildings although the "colossal backlog" of repairs was recognised.
* The role of the Parliament in education was unclear.
* There were no explicit national priorities.
* Parents had to fight to get their children into mainstream classes.
* Three and four-year-olds had no guarantee of a right to education.
"How different things look now," Mr Peacock observed.