Letter from Edinburgh 27.02.09
Parliament did not debate last week because of the Scottish school holidays. We have Up-Helly-A’ so Shetland has a different pattern to school holidays. So I was spared a week in Edinburgh and instead managed a couple of school visits, something my colleagues in the south couldn’t manage.
I was firstly at the Brae High and Primary School where a bright and inquisitive class interrogated me on many subjects I had a view on and many I did not. I was impressed by the innovative way teaching is being done at the primary school. The aim is to break down any barriers, real or imagined between the age groups to allow children to move more easily up through the classes. This seems particularly sensible at the earliest age where children can encounter a real difference between the formal “play” of pre-school nursery and the classroom setting of primary one.
The step from primary to secondary always seems enormous but I suspect that the new ways of breaking down these artificial schooling barriers, at all ages, is a really constructive approach to getting more out of children. So it was good to see such sensible developments happening in our schools.
Later last week I was at the Bressay Primary School. I was a pupil there … in the last century as my children so tactfully remind me. So today’s generation are doing a project about what it was like when previous generations went to school in Bressay.
“Did you have a computer?”
“No, slate and chalk,” I sought to argue, unconvincingly.
A contractor is laying new water pipes outside the school. They run under the burn which is next to the road past the front gates. I do recall a splendid playtime where we dammed the burn, causing the road and playground to flood. When I say “splendid” it was, until the head teacher came out to ring the bell for school to start again. My recollection of what happened thereafter has faded with time. But I did think that passing this story on to the next generation would be most unhelpful to the present teaching staff.
This week it was back to the grind. The main story in Edinburgh is the scandalous pension being paid to the former Royal Bank boss. It’s difficult to imagine £650,000 a year from the age of 50 onwards but that’s what the bank is paying their former boss. But the UK government agreed this when they forced the top bosses of the banks out.
I just wonder and worry, as a taxpayer, how many more horrible truths will emerge from banks over the coming months. Where will it end? Apart from every taxpayer in the country paying a lot for a long time? What don’t these top bankers understand about the fury of the country at their behaviour?
Tavish Scott MSP