News at a glance

SQA hails `sound understanding' of Nationals

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has made changes to how it ensures that schools and colleges are correctly handling assessment for the new National qualifications. Teachers will receive more support and the number of verification rounds will drop from three to two. The SQA said there had been more verification than usual in 2013-14 to ensure high standards during the introduction of National 1-5, but it was confident that schools and colleges now had "a sound understanding" of what was expected. A spokesman from the EIS teaching union welcomed the announcement but said much more needed to be done to reduce teachers' administrative burden.

Shopkeepers urged to sell well

A new initiative has been launched to promote healthy eating among children who leave school premises at lunchtime. Beyond the School Gate is a Scottish government project backed by local authorities body Cosla and the Scottish Grocers' Federation. It aims to encourage children to stay in school to eat a healthy meal and for shopkeepers near schools to think about how they can offer healthier choices. Research from citizenship charity Young Scot - carried out for the Beyond the School Gate project - shows that more than half of secondary school pupils buy lunch outside of school at least once a week. For more information on the initiative, visit bit.lyFoodAndHealth

Award-winning pupils praised by the Pope

The Catholic Church has honoured some 1,000 secondary school pupils from across Scotland with the Caritas Award. An audience of 3,000 at the Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow last Saturday heard how the winners, who came from a variety of religious and non-religious backgrounds, had volunteered time in their school and faith communities and offered practical support to others. A message from Pope Francis described the students as "street preachers".

ICT teachers get professional learning boost

Scotland's largest-ever professional learning programme for computing teachers has been launched. PLAN C - the Professional Learning and Networking in Computing project - provides support for computing science qualifications from National 5 upwards, as well as computational thinking in general education. It is a joint endeavour between Computing at School Scotland and the BCS (British Computer Society) Academy of Computing, funded by the Scottish government. Project evaluator Laurie O'Donnell, a visiting professor of learning innovation at Abertay University, said it was "the first development in a long time that might be able to revive computing in schools". Sign up at

Top brass line up for learning festival

The programme for this year's Scottish Learning Festival has been revealed. Keynote speakers include education secretary Michael Russell, General Teaching Council for Scotland chief executive Ken Muir and Sir Ian Wood, chair of the commission for developing Scotland's young workforce. Frank Dick, the British Athletics Federation's former director of coaching, will talk about how competition can raise performance, while Professor Alma Harris, of London's Institute of Education, will encourage Scotland to look beyond the Pisa (Programme for International Student Assessment) measure of educational success. Registration has opened for the festival, which takes place at Glasgow's SECC on 24 and 25 September.

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