This article appears as part of the Lessons to Learn newsletter.

It’s the end of another school year, and if conversations with teachers and parents have taught me anything it’s that this one has been particularly rough.

It feels like the last drops of optimism for major, desperately-needed reform to education have finally evaporated – instead, we now have an escalating sense of dread as the status quo is reasserted while the reality of current budget cuts, as well as years of bad policy and cowardly can-kicking, starts to become frighteningly clear.

It has been a hard year, so for at least the next month or so, teachers and pupils should enjoy a measure of respite during their well-earned summer holidays – although that will be easier said than done for all those educators who don’t know if they’ve got a job in August.

As I write this, Teachers’ Hogmanay should already be well underway in many council areas, but the end of the current academic year also means that it’s about a year since I stopped teaching in order to become The Herald’s new education writer. In fact, today marks exactly twelve months since I closed my college laptop for the last time and, in doing so, opened up a new very different chapter in my life.

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For years I had complained about the quantity and, even more so, the quality of education coverage in Scotland, and then a huge opportunity to do something about it came along. For some people, the stars align – for me, serendipity brought an ambitious editor and a college voluntary severance scheme together at just the right time. It was exciting, but it was always a bit of a punt, one that would clearly hinge on finding an audience for the sort of edu-journalism I wanted to pursue – and there was no guarantee that such an audience existed.

To be honest, while I was absolutely up for giving it a go, I wasn’t entirely convinced it would work.

Fortunately, I was wrong.

Since last year, I have been absolutely blown away by the level of support for the work that we’ve been trying to do. From day one there has been a real enthusiasm for a different kind of education coverage, which has enabled us to push the previous boundaries of this sort of reporting. When I joined The Herald I knew I’d spend a fair bit of time writing about problems and scandals, but I was determined to do much more, and I think a lot of the work speaks for itself.

One of my biggest goals was to bring greater depth to the way in which education is explored, so we had a week-long special on Orcadian education, ongoing reporting of the situation at Dalry Secondary School in Galloway, a perspective-shifting visit to Sarajevo and Srebrenica, and our ground-breaking investigation into a topic that is, and will always be, very close to my heart: the State of Scotland’s Colleges.

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The Herald turned focus to the crisis in Scotland's colleges in a ground-breaking at-length investigation (Image: Derek McArthur)
But I also wanted to try to expand the sort of stories that we tell, and the kind of voices that we hear, when covering education in Scotland, whether that meant giving an autistic student the chance to explain her horrendous experience of schooling, or finding myself bouncing off the ropes – and the canvas – in a pro-wrestling ring.

Of course, we want to break the big education stories as well, and we’ve regularly done that with a long list of exclusive reports. That has been especially true in Glasgow, where we’ve led the coverage of the education cuts that have already seen vital services closed down, and which threaten to significantly reduce the number of teachers working in the city’s schools.

But none of this would have been possible without help, so today I want to say thank you.

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If you have signed up for this newsletter, read and shared our articles, trusted us with your stories, got in touch with feedback, or backed our work by becoming a subscriber, then you have helped make everything I’ve done for the past year possible.

You have helped us to keep pushing forward, to keep asking the tough questions, and to keep shining a light on the stories that need to be told.

Without you, we might never have found out about the pension failures at South Lanarkshire College, the threat to a transformative mentoring programme for teens in Glasgow, or the overwhelming parental support for LGBT-inclusive education – and that’s just the tiniest snapshot of your impact.

To be blunt, every little bit of support makes it easier for my editor to justify paying me (and my brilliant colleague, Garrett Stell) and strengthens the case for us to keep on pushing the boundaries of education coverage as far as possible.

So thank you, again, for all your help over the past year.

Let’s make the next one even better.