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Political parties unveil new education proposals

All the main political parties in Scotland have released their manifestos for the general election on 7 May, with some striking education proposals. The SNP pledges to extend the education maintenance allowance in Scotland to an extra 10,000 school pupils and 12,000 part-time college students. Labour promises 200 literacy teachers for 20 secondary schools and associated primaries in deprived communities. The Conservatives want to allow individuals, groups of parents and charities to set up new schools. An extension of free childcare to all two-year-olds by 2020 is a key Liberal Democrat commitment, and the Greens promise to increase the minimum wage for apprentices from pound;3.30 to pound;10 an hour.

Call for research into `economically inactive' youth

The Scottish Trades Union Congress has called for urgent research into the rise in young people who are "economically inactive". Its new labour market report (bit.lySTUCReport1) says that inactivity among young people is now higher than before the recession. The report concedes that this could reflect greater numbers entering full-time education, but says it would be "extremely worrying" if unemployment were a major factor. A spokesman said: "It is therefore important that the Scottish government researches this issue and publishes findings as quickly as possible."

Project to compare support for ASN students

A new year-long project will explore the help available to young people with Asperger's syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and Tourette's syndrome as they prepare to leave school. Life on the Edge of the Cliff, supported by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, will compare experiences of students in the UK with those in Italy, Norway and the Czech Republic. The coordinator is Edinburgh-based Tracey Francis, whose 17-year-old daughter has Asperger's syndrome. "We're not great at listening to what young people have to say about the services they use - that's especially true for this group of young people," Ms Francis said. For more information, visit

Edinburgh course to track election in real time

A free online course will enable students to track the twists and turns of the general election over the coming weeks. The three-week University of Edinburgh massive open online course (Mooc), Understanding the UK's 2015 General Election, will begin on Monday, 10 days before the vote. It will follow the election in real time, responding to events on the campaign trail, before covering the count live on 7 May and continuing for another 10 days to explore the implications of the result. The Mooc will take no more than three hours a week to complete. See bit.lyelectionmooc for details.

Music event strikes a chord with young people

A two-day event in Glasgow this summer will give young musicians the chance to perform for industry experts and learn how to get ahead in the music business. Exchange, hosted by Music for Youth and Education Scotland, takes place on 12 and 13 June for musicians aged 21 and under. The programme also features a careers marketplace and talks from speakers such as Stevie Wonder's manager Keith Harris. Those wishing to perform must upload two tracks at by 29 April. The event is also open to teachers and others who work with young people. The deadline for registration is 20 May.

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