As imagined by Brian Beacom

THE first thing I’d like to say as new Education Secretary is I’m not going to be marking John Swinney’s homework jotter. I’m not going to cane anyone’s backside.

No. Mr Swinney, it must be said – and not just because as Deputy First Minister he is my boss – did a brilliant job. Yes, there was last year’s algorithms fiasco. Yes, we had to watch through our fingers as the postcode lottery debacle played out.

But who amongst us hasn’t made the mistake of wrecking an educational system? Who can put their hand up in class and say they are a stranger to failure?

Not me. I know what it’s like to have the dunce’s cap placed on my head by the electorate, having only managed to win a Holyrood election at the fourth time of trying – and this was thanks to Labour’s adoption of the national self-harming strategy, in which each candidate was given a political handgun with which to shoot themselves in the foot.

So why am I here, you may well wonder, in schools, after so many failures? Honestly, just because me and Nic are besties, and we go way back to the Youth Wing days and, somehow, I became Campaigns Director and then when I lost the 2013 by-election I somehow became deputy chief executive of the party, a role in which it was claimed I rose without trace.

But in 2016 I was elected. And before you could say ‘Nicola for President’ I was promoted to the Cabinet, and now I’m in schools, ready to overhaul the SQA and Scottish Education.

Yes, Nic said she had “full confidence” in the SQA, but I can explain my position, as I always do, using my customary sentences that are longer than a week’s detention to spell out, in in words that say very little, that I’m going to do my very best to give the poor children of Scotland the education they so richly deserve.

So, you sleepy-eyed journalists need to give us a chance. Stop highlighting the ‘variability’ of exams across Scotland’s schools. Doesn’t this inconsistency prove that we don’t have a diktat from central Government? Doesn’t my ‘central diktat’ line suggest I’m clever enough to cover up a lack of cohesive national strategy?

And stop highlighting this appeals story that could see grades dropped. Seriously? Do you think this government wants the grief, from everyone, even our joined-at-the-hip chums the Greens? No, it’s to be top marks all round.

Is this the educational form of quantitative easing? Well, once the bell rings, then the talent will show itself. As mine will. I may sound like a geography teacher on a Friday afternoon dreaming of a pint of Old Peculiar but remember I promise to recruit an extra 3,500 additional teachers and invest more than £1 billion to close the poverty-related attainment gap.

Your eyelids have now closed now! Are you listening? I’m going to tell Nicola on you. You’re for it!