School teacher tragedy isn't time for knee-jerk response

This week, the shock waves which reverberated around the UK, from the killing of 61-year-old teacher Ann Maguire, were felt in every community.

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There was a palpable sense of horror as the country realised that this teacher had suffered multiple stab wounds, allegedly from a 15-year-old pupil, in front of 30 other children.

By all accounts, Mrs Maguire was a very special teacher. With more than 40 years of experience, she was due to retire from her Leeds school, in just a few months time. Pupils, both past and present, spoke in glowing terms about her dedication, her commitment and her humanity.

Inevitably, some individual reaction to such a tragic death, has brokered an unhealthy, knee-jerk, response.

I listened as a local politician called for metal detectors in schools and for a police presence in all parts of the school. Mercifully, these are extremely rare events and we should be cautious about taking decisions in haste that we may, in the longer term, come to regret.

Had Mrs Maguire been killed in a public park? Would we be seeking metal detectors and a police presence in all of our public parks?

In Scotland, we have placed campus police officers and campus firefighters in many schools across the country. This does not mean that they are there, primarily to prevent violence or to act in the event of tragedies such as this.

If Mrs Maguire's school had a police officer, how could we be reassured that the officer would be in the right place at the right time, indeed would the Officer have been in any of the classrooms, or more specifically in that classroom?

Calls for more police officers in schools is no more relevant than calls for the return of corporal punishment. The numbers of young people carrying knives, and knife crime in Scotland, has been steadily decreasing over the last few years.

We need to review the incident in Leeds as we consistently review security in our schools. We require to provide teachers with a safe teaching environment, however, tackling issues like this solely through control, discipline and fear, are likely to prove counter-productive.

In continuously reviewing the security and safety of our schools, let's also make sure that we are both talking and listening to, the pupils. Great teachers cannot teach, without giving away a little of themselves in the process. By all accounts Mrs Maguire was such a teacher, one who lived to teach. Let's make sure that other great teachers remain free to do so.

Great news this week that American tycoon Donald Trump, has bought Turnberry golf course.

Turnberry is a fabulous Open, golf course and has a wonderful hotel. Mr Trump has promised to spend millions of pounds in bringing the hotel up to the highest standards of luxury. Indeed, he has promised to make the hotel, the finest and most luxurious in Europe.

But, wait a moment, is this the same Donald Trump who said he wouldn't invest another dime in Scotland after his long running feud over the offshore wind farm? After investing hundreds of millions of pounds in his Menie Estate golf course, Mr Trump was apparently horrified by the plans to site the large wind farm development off the Aberdeenshire coast, and within sight of his hallowed turf.

Having taken a fairly major huff, Mr Trump scrapped his plans for a second golf course on the same site.

I can only deduce that Mr Trump has perhaps grown fed up playing Don Quixote and has stopped tilting at windmills or should that be wind turbines?

I see that the Scotch Whisky Association has been successful in further postponing the introduction of minimum alcohol pricing.

After a long and sustained legal campaign, the Association has argued that setting a minimum price for alcohol, breached European Law. Scotland's Court of Session has therefore referred the matter to the European Court, in order for them to give their opinion on the proposal. A process, which could take a further two years.

The Government's plans to introduce a minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol, were contained in Legislation which was passed by the Scottish Parliament, in May 2012, some two years ago. I fully support the introduction of minimum pricing.

Having seen the devastating consequences of the relationship between alcohol and fire, and learned at first hand, the relationship between alcohol and crime and alcohol and our health, it seemed to me like a very sensible proposal.

Our relationship with alcohol is unhealthy and it requires to be rebalanced. Given that minimum pricing has been approved by a democratically elected Scottish Parliament, I believe the actions of the Scotch Whisky Association are ill advised. Acting contrary to the wishes of the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish people, is unlikely to win this industry too many friends in the long term.

It has won this round of the battle, I fear however, its war, may be lost.

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