MANY of us will have been saddened this week to have learned of the events at the Clutha Vaults pub only weeks after the helicopter crash that killed 10 people.

Two teenagers, Jordan Parry,16, and Darren Melrose,18, along with a 17-year-old girl, who can not be named for legal reasons, broke into the bar, stealing alcohol and £170 in cash and charity tins.

As these details became public, the sense of disgust and disapproval was evident throughout the country. This was indeed a despicable act.

It must have been so distressing to those who lost loved ones in that tragedy to know that there were such uncaring and heartless people among us.

As a consequence of these actions, the two teenage boys were detained for six months and the girl was given a community payback order.

Some of the online reaction to this act described the teenagers' actions as a grave robbery or the violation of a shrine. It was neither. These were the actions of three adolescent teenagers, who understood little about the implications of their crime.

During a childhood in care, these young people were rarely offered a role model to provide a moral compass in their lives.

They did a great wrong and it is not for me to forgive their actions.However, our dash to demonise them does little to cure the ills of the system that produced them.

There may well be reasons for their behaviour, but that does not mean that we can excuse it. I think of the police officers investigating this crime, while mourning the loss of their own colleagues who died in the helicopter at the incident.

How must they have felt?

Our challenge is to ensure that our future generations have purpose and direction in their lives and recognise the importance of both a sense of responsibility and truth.

In my opinion, we often forget that discipline really means to teach ... rather than to punish.

IF, like me, you have teenage children sitting exams this spring, the resignation of Roderic Gillespie, architect of the new Scottish exam system, might fill you with some consternation.

Mr Gillespie was the prime driver behind the introduction of the Scottish Qualifications Authority's Curriculum for Excellence.

The significance of his imminent departure is being underplayed, both by Scottish Government and the SQA themselves.

The timing of his exit is at best inconvenient, at worst, somewhat embarrassing.

With the first Curriculum for Excellence examinations at National 5, just a few weeks away, the announcement of his exit reinforces concerns that have been expressed by unions, teachers and parents across Scotland.

I can report to you at first hand that the system remains unclear.

One thing about the Curriculum for Excellence which is clear, is that both schools and pupils are not ready for the introduction of a system which appears as chaotic as it is embryonic.

I do hope that Mr Gillespie has not departed the scene early in advance of an exams fiasco, rather than having sat and failed the prelim, he didn't have the stomach for the main exam.

If the best way to finish an unpleasant task is to get started ... once started you must finish it.

Mr Gillespie didn't.

Our schools have become places where teachers, and not just their pupils, appear to learn something new every day.

The new exam system should not ask for more than the smartest pupils can answer. Like all parents, I really don't need anyone telling me the Curriculum for Excellence will be easy, just that it's going to be fair ... oh, and that it's going to be worth it.

THIS week saw the six-month countdown begin to the Independence Referendum on September 18.

This week's activity has seen the No campaign publish proposals for strengthening devolution.

On the Yes campaign side, they continue to suffer from claims of unaffordability and a lack of business confidence.

I have also noticed the increasing lack of impartiality of both the BBC and Sky coverage, who as UK institutions, disguise their desire to see Scotland remain within the UK very badly.

Opinion polls suggest that the outcome of the referendum, may lie with those, who at the moment, are undecided.

In those same polls, the Yes campaign appear to have some momentum.

If a week is a long time in politics ... how long is six months?