As always the summer holidays have flown by and as you read this week’s column the new school term is fully underway. I hope that pupils and their families have managed to relax and enjoy the unusually good weather this summer.

It has been important to return to some degree of normality after the disruption of the last couple of years. Hopefully, we can also look forward to a more ‘normal’ school year in the months ahead.

Last week many young people received their SQA results. Young people across Scotland – and their families and teachers – should be incredibly proud of their results. They are a credit to themselves, their schools, and Scotland.

However, I believe the achievements of our young people are masking system-wide problems. This year’s results are on a reduced curriculum – yet more evidence of the significant loss of learning and knowledge across Scotland’s education system.

The Scottish Government has no plan whatsoever to make up for these losses – nor any interest in doing the work to assess the impact. This has very real impact for colleges, universities, businesses and individuals building a career, and, of course, for the country as a whole.

Ministers have reverted to a system that penalises the poorest young people in Scotland. They have done so knowingly, purposefully and – worst of all – without any plan to change the situation.

This cannot be allowed to continue. As schools return, pupils, parents and staff deserve better than the same old failures and excuses from the Scottish Government. We need urgent reform to ensure that the education system works for all our young people.

Finally, I want to again acknowledge the efforts of local volunteers who work tirelessly to support individuals and families across East Lothian. I’ve met many of them over the summer holidays and know how vital their contribution is to the wellbeing of our people and communities.