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Standards Act starts to filter into schools

THE legislation that is aimed at raising attainment in Scotland's schools is to be phased in gradually over the next two years, councils have been told.

The next set of "commencement orders" for the Standards in Scotland's Schools Etc Act comes into force next Friday. It covers a range of provisions such as establishing the rights of children to school education, obligations on authorities to make annual statements on improvement objectives and on schools to produce development plans, and rights of appeal against exclusion.

The implementation of other sections of the Act is being delayed, largely to allow consultation to take place, Jeane Freeman, head of the Executive's school standards and improvement division, says in a circular to council chief executives.

This means the new legal "assumption" that all children should be educated in mainstream schools will not commence until next year.

The Executive is preparing guidance aimed at esuring that decisions about mainstreaming versus special education are taken in the best interests of the child, and this will be subject to consultation before the provision is enacted.

Similarly a working group has been set up to try to reach agreement on school capacity, which will hold up full implementation of changes to the placing request legislation. And introducing the new duty on education authorities to provide pre-school education will have to wait until universal coverage for three and four-year-olds has been achieved, or is about to be achieved, most likely in early 2002.

The other main changes will be those affecting the General Teaching Council for Scotland. Two come into effect next Friday, including a new statutory requirement on authorities to notify cases of misconduct to the GTC. But new sanctions allowing the council to deal with cases of teacher incompetence and misconduct will not be brought about before 2002.

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