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Supply teachers settle dispute

Teachers have voted to accept a pay and conditions offer under which supply staff will have to work for just two days before receiving full pay - down from five days as currently. In a ballot organised by the EIS teaching union, 90 per cent of members voted to accept the offer that was put before staff after they rejected a deal in October. The new package addresses concerns around administrative tasks and flexible working, and includes pay increases of 1 per cent for this year and next, improved pay and conditions for short-term supply teachers and salary protection for former chartered teachers. Teachers recognised "the important gains" included in the package, the union's general secretary Larry Flanagan said. However, the 1 per cent pay rise fell short of being "a fair settlement", he added.

Lack of precise ASN numbers `raises concerns'

Big disparities in the proportion of children with additional support needs (ASN) across different parts of Scotland have been revealed, prompting concerns that many students are not receiving essential support. According to figures released by the Scottish Children's Services Coalition, West Dunbartonshire has the highest proportion of ASN students in both secondary schools (39 per cent) and primaries (33 per cent). North Lanarkshire records the lowest proportion for both secondaries (6 per cent) and primaries (5 per cent). Sophie Pilgrim, director of the charity Kindred and a member of the coalition, said: "We find it increasingly frustrating that we simply cannot get precise figures on the number of children with ASN, and this raises concerns as to whether some local authorities are fulfilling their statutory requirements."

Thinktanks call for extreme change

Radical changes to Scottish education have been suggested in two separate thinktank reports. School should start at the age of 4, according to the independent Scotland Institute, which believes this would reduce the educational gap that often exists between poorer children and their more affluent peers even before they start P1. Meanwhile, the left-leaning Jimmy Reid Foundation has proposed a single exit exam for school students. The current exams "distort the curriculum", report author Brian Boyd states.

New leader for secondary teachers' union

Sheila Mechan has been confirmed as the new general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association. The lawyer, who has been working on employment conditions and rights with the NUT teaching union in London, takes over from acting general secretary Alan McKenzie.

Calls for `special look' at Nationals

Politicians and teacher leaders are calling for an independent review of the new National qualifications. General secretary of the EIS teaching union Larry Flanagan (pictured, left) said the introduction of Nationals had been plagued with problems and a review should be carried out after the exams so lessons could be learned and processes "streamlined". According to the Scottish government, the new curriculum and qualifications are under constant review by the Curriculum for Excellence management board. Nevertheless, education secretary Michael Russell agreed to ask the board to "take a special look at what took place" when the exams ended.

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