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Moray staff shortages could mean empty schools

A shortage of primary and secondary teachers in Moray could lead to classes or entire year groups being sent home, local councillors have been warned. In a report to the council's Children and Young People's Services Committee, the authority says that primary and secondary schools have more than 70 unfilled posts, with some vacancies receiving "no suitable applicants at all". The shortages were "something that we must continue to review and manage as increasing numbers of staff are required to fulfil appropriate ratios and avoid schools having to send home year groups, classes or indeed shut the whole school," the report adds.

Teacher struck off for inappropriate messages

A teacher from West Lothian has been removed from the General Teaching Council for Scotland's (GTCS) register after sending inappropriate messages and pictures to a pupil. The GTCS fitness to teach panel found that Thomas John Docherty, at the time a chemistry and science teacher at Linlithgow Academy, had between December 2012 and early 2013 sent inappropriate messages to a pupil, including sexual content and images of himself "in a state of undress". He had also met with and kissed the student.

New exam rules favour the wealthy, MSP argues

Changes to the exam appeals process mean that the education system now favours private-school pupils more than ever, deputy Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale claimed in Parliament last week. A Freedom of Information request showed that appeals by state pupils had fallen by 77 per cent in one year, she said, but only by 37 per cent in private schools. Charges for appeals from state schools were paid for either by the school or the local authority, Ms Dugdale added, whereas private schools were giving parents the option to pay themselves. The new system is designed to prevent speculative appeals and to prioritise candidates who have been through exceptional circumstances, such as serious illness or a family bereavement.

Cuts may close young mothers' unit after 24 years

A pioneering education unit and nursery for teenage mothers could become the victim of cuts in Dundee, only weeks after it was praised in a Care Inspectorate report. The Menzieshill High School young mothers' unit, set up nearly 25 years ago, could lose its only qualified teacher and faces the threat of relocation as Menzieshill is due to close. The move would mean that the young mothers would be separated from other pupils. A petition is running to preserve the unit in its current form and Dundee City Council will make a final decision on its future next Thursday.

Educational psychologists in short supply

Concerns about the number of educational psychologists in Scotland have been raised in the Scottish Parliament. Labour Highland and Islands MSP David Stewart tabled a motion for discussion last Friday after a report highlighted increased pressure on the service. Applications to the profession fell by 70 per cent after the Scottish government removed a pound;49,000 bursary for the two-year course in 2012. The 2013 report which was under discussion, from the Association of Scottish Principal Educational Psychologists and the Scottish Division of Educational Psychologists, revealed that a quarter those in the profession were due to retire within four years.

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