News at a glance

Two-year reprimand for `inappropriate' comments

A teacher accused of telling a student that a fellow pupil's parents were dangerous drug dealers has been reprimanded by the General Teaching Council for Scotland. Its Fitness to Teach panel found that Hazel Laird made "inappropriate and unsubstantiated comments" at Lesmahagow High School in South Lanarkshire when she said that a child's mother and father were "dangerous people". Ms Laird also warned the boy that she could lose her job if he revealed what she had said, the panel found. The boy later sent text messages to two friends about her comments. However, the panel concluded that the geography and modern studies teacher had not called the parents drug dealers and that although she had caused the family distress, she was not responsible for them moving their child to another school. The reprimand will be recorded on the register for two years.

Union questions value of costly assessments

Scottish councils are wasting thousands of pounds on "meaningless" classroom tests, the nation's largest teaching union has warned. The EIS called on local authorities to review their financial priorities after finding that they spent as much as pound;120,000 per year measuring pupils' abilities in maths and English. The union believes that the tests, known as standardised baseline assessments and taken by primary pupils every two years at some schools, offer "little or no educational value". Councils maintain that the testing provides valuable extra data on children's learning levels and needs.

Apprenticeships crucial for oil and gas sector

Thousands of young people were being urged this week to take up apprenticeships to help secure their own futures and that of Scotland's oil and gas industry. More than 1,400 apprentices have entered the industry through a successful scheme launched 15 years ago, which is now backed by more than a dozen companies. But the Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organisation, the skills organisation that runs the scheme with the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board, said that recruitment and training of skilled staff remained critical to developing and retaining a workforce able to meet tough global energy challenges.

Open day push for more mature learners

A residential adult education college is encouraging more people to study later in life to boost their future prospects. Newbattle Abbey College, based outside Edinburgh, is holding an open day to recruit prospective students for courses in access to higher education and preparation for further education. The event next Wednesday will promote a range of subjects including politics, psychology and rural skills.

Conference set to tighten Malawi links

Scotland's relationship with Malawi will be explored next month at a conference aimed at teachers, to be held at the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh. The event, Scotland and Malawi - Learning Together, takes place on 4 June and is aimed at schools and local authorities interested in establishing or strengthening ties between the countries. Speakers include education secretary Michael Russell and representatives from Malawi.

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