This month saw the schools having their half-term break, and although most pupils are learning at home, the school holiday was hugely welcomed by all.

The snowy weather gave a chance for a bit of fun for those able to play outside – and I’m sure was welcomed by parents too.

It’s fair to say that looking back over the past weeks, and indeed to last March, parents have never had such appreciation for teachers and for the school environment as they do now.

Being out of school and trying to continue learning in circumstances a long way from normal has been very challenging for everyone involved throughout the past year.

Some people have found it harder than others and it’s reassuring to hear of the great lengths our schools and our education support staff have gone to in ensuring pupils have access to both Chromebooks and the internet to enable learning to continue at home.

Anyone who is struggling need only to ask and they will get help.

On the topic of help for children, I’m delighted to see that the new Scottish Child Payment is now in effect, as of Monday.

This will bring welcome additional funds for those families who need it most.

The new Scottish payment, of £10 per child per week, is not limited to only two children per family in the cruel and unnecessary way Westminster punishes children deemed to have too many siblings.

The film Groundhog Day is a favourite of mine.

Bill Murray’s character waking up each morning to the same day replaying has really chimed with me over the weeks and months of this pandemic.

For many of us our days have become quite repetitive and we long for the freedom to do more, travel further and ultimately to see more people, our family, friends and colleagues.

If you haven’t seen it, the key message in the film is about the chance to repeat the day and get things right that you may have got wrong before – and maybe that’s the positive we can take away from this pandemic.

We’ve concentrated on caring for those in our families and communities who are most in need of help and support.

Those in our communities whose jobs were under-appreciated by many are now seen as indispensable and described as our heroes.

So whilst our liberty and social freedom has been constrained greatly, this pandemic might just be of value in its strange way.

Vaccinations are continuing at pace and hopefully in a few weeks we’ll see not only better weather but less restrictions.

In the meantime please let’s all keep caring for others and keeping safe.