News at a glance

Better standards fail to close attainment gap

The attainment gap between rich and poor children in Scotland remains "persistent and significant", according to a Joseph Rowntree Foundation report published this week. The report, written by academics at the University of Strathclyde, shows that despite an overall increase in school standards, children from low-income backgrounds are still trailing their better-off peers by some distance. At the age of 5, children from poorer families are about 12 months less developed than their peers in problem-solving and vocabulary. In early secondary school, only 28 per cent of children from poorer families are performing well in numeracy compared with 56 per cent of those from advantaged backgrounds.

Proceeds of crime offer `life-changing' chances

The Scottish government has announced more than pound;2 million of funding to create "life-changing opportunities" for vulnerable young people through the CashBack for Communities programme. The scheme reclaims money made through illegal means and reinvests it in socially beneficial enterprises. The latest funding will be used for projects run by the youth work agency YouthLink Scotland. It is estimated that about 25,000 young people will benefit over the next three years.

Paisley reading scheme picks up award

A paired reading club run by pupil volunteers at Castlehead High School in Paisley, Renfrewshire, has won a Big Society Award. Senior students at the school have been helping younger peers improve their reading since the club began in 1994. Since then, it has become the biggest paired reading club in the UK and literacy levels have improved across the school. The club has also built a number of links with the surrounding community, including a programme that invites elderly volunteers to come into school and take part in paired reading.

New college resource helps to care for the carers

The College Development Network has launched a resource to give further education staff advice and ideas on how to open up qualifications to carers. The Enabling Student Carers initiative will explore measures such as including "carer" as a category on admission forms so that extra support might be offered.

Labour demands early years action on inequality

The Scottish Labour party has published a paper addressing the issue of inequality in education. Mind the Gap: tackling educational inequality in Scotland recommends focusing resources on the early years of life, including through family centres and investing in a state-owned system of high-quality childcare. It also calls for an expansion of "wraparound care" for primary pupils, such as breakfast and homework clubs. The recommendations will be considered as part of Labour's manifesto process for the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections.

Senior leader takes up new role at teaching council

Aberdeenshire headteacher Derek Thompson has been elected to a senior post at the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS). Mr Thompson, who will become convenor, has 35 years' experience working in Scottish education, including the past 14 as headteacher of Westhill Academy in Aberdeenshire. His GTCS duties have included chairing Standard for Headship panels and working on accreditation for initial teacher education. Mr Thompson takes over from David Drever, former depute headteacher at Kirkwall High School in Orkney, who has retired.

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