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O little town of ... Dalkeith

A pre-festive survey shocked the nation by exposing young people's ignorance of the Christmas story.

Readers will be glad to learn that the Scottish Qualifications Authority has provided its usual swift response to the challenge by appointing an expert to deal with the crisis. A letter sent by the SQA in Dalkeith to computing studies departments across Scotland informed them that a Mr D Middleton was to be the "qualifications manger".

Happy (belated) Christmas!

Salmon for Salmond

A good time was had by all at the annual Sabhal Mor Ostaig lecture, delivered (in Edinburgh, not at the college in Skye) towards the end of last year by First Minister Alex Salmond. With predecessors such as President Mary Robinson of Ireland and the then Chancellor Gordon Brown, the lecture is habitually described as "prestigious."

It actually held more prestige for some than others. Those who were able to read the Gaelic side of the invitation would have found themselves invited "gu greim-bidhe agus glainne fion" (a bite to eat and a reception) after the lecture.

Those unable to access the Gaelic version had to make do with an invite to the reception only. Unless, that is, you were the prestigious First Minister.

Adapting to flames

The embers of the good old days of Strathclyde Regional Council were fanned into life at the end of the year when two South Lanarkshire schools awaiting demolition went up in flames.

So farewell vacant Trinity High in Cambuslang and St Andrew's High in East Kilbride, where the arsonists have saved the council a packet.

It brought memories flooding back of the days when Strathclyde drew up its famous report on school closures, Adapting to Change. It was soon known as "Adapting to Flames", after St Gregory's in Easterhouse, one of the early secondaries which had been consumed by change, spontaneously combusted while awaiting demolition. Plus ca change.

Off with their dreads

It's tough being a kid in South Korea. When you aren't rote-learning at school, it's off to cram classes till midnight for more.

Any deviant behaviour - a fashionably bouffant hairstyle, for example - is swiftly dealt with by fearsome teachers. Despite laws against corporal punishment, it has emerged that one in five high school boys has had his hair forcibly cut by a teacher.

Girls' cherished locks are also at risk, with 6.4 per cent having received an unwanted cut and style.

Hopefully, in this country, things are different: classroom assistants would surely wield the tonsorial shears instead of teachers.

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