Friday marks the start of the summer recess for Holyrood, often mistakenly referred to as the beginning of the summer holidays for MSPs.
Now, no-one likes hearing their members of parliament moaning about how hard they work (a close second is journalists going on Twitter to show off their shorthand) but it is fair to say your representative will be (and should be) as busy as ever over the summer period.
First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, however, did have a whiff of end-of-term about it.
Watching parliament remotely means we could not quite see which of our MSPs were busy at the back playing Snakes and Ladders but suffice to say a few had bunked off early in any case.
Exams, yes or no?
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross opened up on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s flip-flopping over her confidence in the SQA. If she was happy to scrap the body, would she go one further and scrap exams? A firm no-no for head prefect Mr Ross.
Like many weary teachers, Ms Sturgeon seemed content to swat away his question as if it was unworthy of her time, undermining the asker’s credibility rather than give a straight response.
This riled Mr Ross, who then took exception to heckling from the deputy first minister John Swinney — the man who presided over last year and this year’s near-identical exams crisis.
It put the newly-elected opposition leader off his stride just enough to allow Ms Sturgeon to take up her preferred batting stance, one where she can completely ignore what is being asked of her by deferring to the judgement (or often, “the will”) of voters.
“They elected this government”, Ms Sturgeon correctly points out, but it should not mean spending the next five years ignoring criticism of the opposition and experts who might just have a point.
Twice Mr Ross, now channelling an educator who lost the class before the October break, asked Ms Sturgeon whether the Government would rule-out scrapping exams, twice Mr Ross received the same non-answer.
The first minister said it would be unfair during a pandemic to say now whether next year’s exams would be scrapped, or if the concept of strict under-condition testing would be done away with altogether.
Those prepping for the year ahead (which teachers, unlike politicians, are known to do) might disagree. They probably feel it would be very fair to have as much notice as possible how they should proceed, given how many times they have had the rug pulled from under them these last 18 months.
Ms Sturgeon said she would wait for a further report from the OECD before deciding what to do.
George W Bush, somehow now regarded as one of America’s smarter presidents, once garbled “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…won’t get fooled again” in what can only be described as some ill-fated tribute to The Who.
The correct proverb “fool me twice, shame on me” should not apply to our young people’s futures. But for two consecutive years, the government has had to apologise to them and our teachers for undermining confidence and the process itself.
Maybe President Bush has a phrase for “fool me a third time”, but it should embarrass everyone if we have to contemplate the government making the same mistake for the third time in a row.
Elsewhere, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar hammered the Government’s poor communication with Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.
Mr Burnham is a rare fixture in the Labour party at the moment — a leader who is genuinely popular — so Mr Sarwar’s decision to criticise the first minister for her oversight will win plaudits even if only through association.
The rules, Mr Sarwar said, were easy to understand in the beginning because of “clear communication” from Ms Sturgeon to the nation.
Mr Sarwar pointed out the first minister should communicate more clearly with the country and that authorities in Manchester should have been interacted with before the travel ban.
There is a risk if Ms Sturgeon undermines (the very limited) devolved administrations south of the border, then Westminster will see it as reason enough to continue doing to Holyrood.