The new education curriculum for excellence, Scottish dentists, ferry fares and the tragedy of the three asylum seekers in Glasgow were the issues discussed today.
For those of you who know little about the new curriculum for excellence, it is planned that it be introduced to primary and secondary schools this August, at the start of the school year. However, some secondary school teachers say they're not prepared and have requested a delay. This has caused much controversy within the teaching fraternity to the extent that the head of one secondary school teaching union angrily suggested, on television last night, that primary school staff should keep their noses out of the 'big school's affairs'. I'm sure I could hear teeth grinding throughout the primary teacher population.
Labour leader Iain Gray's questions this week all centred round the curriculum for excellence. Would every school in Scotland be introducing it in August he wanted to know. The First Minister of course doesn't know the answer owing to the recent protestations. "It's a shambles," Iain Gray said.
Alex Salmond sharply retorted he would follow the advice of the curriculum's management board and that there was widespread support for the new curriculum.
Annabel Goldie, Scottish tory leader, asked about NHS dentists and wondered why patients are to be held on dentist's records long term. "The government are cooking the books to make the figures look better than they are." In a stinging response the FM informed Ms Goldie that the reason for the change of rules was to ensure patients register with a dentist and stay registered. He was proud to tell the chamber that the number of NHS dentists had increased by 15% since 2007.
The libdem leader, Tavish Scott, focused on Calmac ferry fares being increased by 4.2% although in some parts of the northern isles, where a pilot scheme is operating, there is no increase. 'Favouritism' implied Mr Scott. "Common sense," responded the FM adding "We must look after the communities who live on the periphery."
Paul Martin, in whose Glasgow constituency 3 people died at the weekend, asked if more financial help could be given to asylum seekers. The FM suggested, after this tragedy, there may be a fatal accident inquiry but it was not up to him was a decision the law and Lord Advocate must make.