EARLIER this week, I was given cause to remember life as a teacher in Glasgow in the 80s and 90s.

During my weekly shop, a former pupil of mine approached me and we started to reminisce a little about life in an East End school at that time.

It is always rewarding to meet those who, as pupils, always had the odds stacked against them – and being a teacher in some of the most deprived parts of Europe at the time, a lot of the young people I taught fell into that category.

Lots of them have remarkable stories to tell, about their successes in life and the adversity they overcame.

Giving young people the confidence, skills and tools they need for later life is the transformative power of education.

And that gives such urgency to the debate we’re having in Scotland today. Glasgow’s young people have made phenomenal progress. With each year, they break new records and chip away at that gap in attainment between the wealthiest and poorest households.

We run the risk of a ‘lost generation’ from this crisis. Potentially a year without full-time education could have enormous repercussions.

Our teachers have responded admirably in unprecedented circumstances. Many of them have been rolling up their sleeves and trying to continue our young people’s education, including by helping to prepare online lessons. This being key to the Scottish Government’s proposed blended model – at school and at home learning. But a snap poll of the Parent Forum of Scotland demonstrated that 62% of those participating had received no online lessons.

Once upon a time, education was going to be “the defining mission” of the Scottish Government. And yet, over the past week, parents have been subjected to inconsistent and muddled messages about the future of their children’s education. This cannot be allowed to stand.

We know the risks from the virus, and that we still have to protect the health of the nation. But we also know that we have radically reduced the numbers catching the virus. We know, for examples elsewhere, that by getting proper test-and-trace systems in place, we can continue to keep numbers low.

What that requires is political will. We can, and must, get our young people back to school, full-time, as soon as possible.

A key Scottish Government adviser said publicly this week that it could be possible. In responding to the crisis, it feels like we have moved mountains to adapt to the pandemic.

But if we cannot find the

will to move this mountain, then

I worry about what the future will hold for millions of our young people.

In Glasgow, by the time the education committee meet again, it could have been five months since their last meeting. Despite the enormous challenge ahead of us. That is plainly ridiculous. But matched in ridiculousness by the consistent game of blaming local authorities.

Before an entire generation is let down, it is the Scottish Government that needs to

show leadership at this time. Stump up the cash. And do it now.