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New panel takes responsibility for school closures

An independent panel to make decisions on school closures came into power this week. Previously, if Scottish government ministers reviewed a local authority's proposal to close a school, they would make the final decision. But the School Closure Review Panel now has responsibility for determining the outcome of such cases. Convener Iain Nisbet, who is head of education law at Govan Law Centre in Glasgow, said: "Alongside amendments to the consultation process, updated guidance on the participation of children in decisions affecting them and the introduction of a legislative presumption against the closure of rural schools, this represents a new phase in school closures and consultations."

Website to measure schools against virtual rivals

The Parentzone Scotland website has been updated with additional data about schools. The site now includes information on students' post-school destinations, as well as their attainment in literacy and numeracy, attainment in relation to deprivation levels, whole-school attainment and the number of qualifications offered at different levels. Parents will also be able to compare a school's performance against a "virtual" school in a similar context. A spokesman for the EIS teaching union said: "While there will always be a demand for measures of school performance, the majority of parents know that schools are about far more than simply producing pass marks in exams." The Scottish Parent Teacher Council welcomed the move as a "step in the right direction".

Glasgow Kelvin College told to improve attainment

An Education Scotland review has found weaknesses at Glasgow Kelvin College that have affected students' quality of education. Inspectors said that the college - formed in 2013 from the merger of John Wheatley, North Glasgow, and Stow colleges - needed to improve course completion rates for full-time learners and develop targets for raising attainment levels. There were strengths, too, however, including the development of skills for employment, work with schools and employers, and positive relationships between staff and students.

Drink-driving headteacher found unfit to teach

A former primary headteacher has been struck off by a General Teaching Council for Scotland fitness-to-teach panel after being convicted of drink-driving on two occasions, five years apart. Aileen Dalzell drove a car into two parked vehicles in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, in 2008. In 2013, she was found driving with more than three times the legal limit of alcohol in her breath. The panel was not persuaded that Ms Dalzell had done enough to remedy her conduct. It was concerned, too, that she had largely ignored GTCS communications about her case. She will be eligible to apply to rejoin the profession after nine months.

ICT employment scheme reaches 1,000 students

An employability programme to address skills shortages in the Scottish ICT industry has enrolled its 1,000th student. The e-Placement Scotland scheme, launched in 2010, is run by Edinburgh Napier University and ICT trade body ScotlandIS. All placements are paid, with students - drawn from further education colleges and universities across Scotland - earning pro rata salaries of between pound;12,000 and pound;20,000. To date, e-Placement Scotland has worked with more than 500 organisations, including Morgan Stanley, J P Morgan and the Scottish government. Project director Sally Smith said Scotland's ICT sector was thriving but reliant on fresh talent, and the placements would ensure that Scotland's economy was "reaping the benefits for years to come".

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