Last week I was honoured to be appointed to my party’s shadow team at Holyrood, serving as shadow minister for children and young people, lifelong learning and youth unemployment.
This is a dream appointment for me. It will enable me to use my experience as a teacher to help focus attention on the vital importance of supporting our children and young people as we enter the recovery phase of the pandemic.
Young people have already suffered serious disruption to most aspects of their lives over the last 14 months, not least in terms of education. If we do not get the recovery right for them now, there is real potential for the impact to affect them in more long term ways.
This was also the central theme of my first speech in parliament which came last week during a debate on education recovery. I began by paying tribute to predecessors Iain Gray and Claudia Beamish. But the main part of the speech was a commitment to continue to listen to young people and act on what they tell us about the impact of Covid and how we can support them in the months and years ahead.
As I said during the speech, I will listen, not just as happens so frequently as part of a tick box exercise in consultation in order to make the decision makers feel good, but in a way that ensures their views are fully considered.
Finally, I’m pleased that East Lothian and most of the rest of the south of Scotland is now in level one restrictions. But we know easing restrictions almost inevitably leads to an increase in the number of new cases.
This underlines the importance of attending vaccination appointments, taking advantage of the testing that is widely available and following the public health rules for avoiding transmission of the virus. We have done remarkably well here in combatting Covid-19 but must remain vigilant.