13 Aug 2012

Paisley Daily Express - 13 August 2012

Exam Results

It’s always a long and anxious wait for school pupils from sitting exams until the results pop through the letter box. Last week’s delivery of results was a tremendous relief for many families, although no doubt there a few who are disappointed.

The results in Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire are a real testimony to the hard work of our school pupils and also to the excellent teaching being delivered in our schools. There should also be real satisfaction for parents and other relatives who provided support all the way through the years up to the exams.

In Renfrewshire our schools recorded again an improvement in results, year on year, a tremendous achievement. In Barrhead, St Luke’s yet again delivered excellent results, putting it up there with the best in the country, and Barrhead High delivered its best ever results.

No doubt there will be a minority who claim that exams are “getting easier”. The truth is that exams are very different from when I sat my “O” grades and Highers. When I was at school, I learned for exams and quickly forgot much of what I learned. Today education is very different with pupils having a more rounded education and a better understanding of what they are studying. I would also argue that school pupils today are more confident than when I was at school.

Let’s not diminish the efforts of our young people. They have worked hard to achieve their results. I just hope that the UK and Scottish Governments would do more to give them a decent job when they leave school, college or university.

Olympic Success

Like millions of others across the country, I have watched the fantastic spectacle of the Olympic Games. From the amazing opening ceremony to the excitement of cheering on British success, it has been hard to keep up with everything which is going on. The BBC has excelled in its coverage of every sport on offer and everyone involved deserves our praise and congratulations for bringing the sheer enjoyment into our homes.

But of course the real praise and credit goes to all the athletes who have worked for so long to reach their peak at these games. It’s one thing to envy the attention, limelight and success, it’s another thing to think of four years of hard physical activity, seven days a week; the rigorous diets and personal sacrifices involved.

Leaving aside Alex Salmond’s stupid comment about “Scolympians” (does it stick in the throat to talk about team GB?), Scottish athletes have made a fantastic contribution to the UK’s success in London.

Let’s hope that these successes can really inspire a new generation of young athletes. And while we are about it, I hope that the new administration in Renfrewshire Council can start to unpick the excessive charges for leisure facilities brought in by the previous SNP administration. We can’t talk about encouraging young people into sport while pricing them out of facilities.

£400,000 for London Club

No expense (i.e. your money) is ever spared when it comes to puffing up Alex Salmond’s ego and ambitions. Quite rightly he wanted Scotland to take economic advantage from the Olympics (although SNP members have spent years criticising the money being spent on the Olympics). The Scottish Government wanted a base in London to host events for Scottish and international business leaders. The Scottish Government has access to Dover House in London, one of the UK Government’s finest buildings. But this wasn’t good enough for our Alex! Instead he decided to spend £400,000 of your money to rent the Pall Mall club, a private club just a stone’s throw away from Dover House. Alex Salmond has describes it as his London “embassy”.

Surely in these tough economic times, Scottish Government Ministers should take more care with our money?

Adopt a Graduate

Young people are finding it hard to find a job, whether it’s leaving school, college or university. I’ve had a number of letters from constituents complaining that after studying at school and university, there are no jobs available. It’s demoralising and it’s also a waste of talent. I welcome the small and limited scheme being run by the Centre for Scottish Public Policy (CSPP) to “Adopt an Intern”. The scheme receives some financial support from the Scottish Government and it aims to give graduates real work experience which could help them find a permanent job. Locally the scheme is being supported by Renfrewshire Council and East Renfrewshire Council. There are currently two paid graduate internships available at Renfrewshire Council. Details can be found at www.adoptanintern.org.uk Closing date is August 16.