A week in education

8th February 2008 at 00:00
Additional Government cash to help migrants learn English must be backed up by increased funding for "seriously overstretched" schools, ministers have been warned. Ronnie Smith, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, welcomed Monday's announcement by Fiona Hyslop, the Education and Lifelong Learning Secretary, of an extra pound;9 million over three years to support English for speakers of other languages. But Mr Smith said there was a lack of sufficient specialist support in schools for the children of these families. The number of people in ESOL classes stood at more than 19,000 in 2006, a rise of 30 per cent on 2005. The new money for "new Scots" could open up 7,000 more learning places for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

The link between education, employment and poverty has been highlighted in the past week, as the Government launched the latest initiative to tackle deprivation. Figures show that 27 per cent of people with no qualifications are in poverty, compared to 13 per cent with qualifications. Around 77 per cent of school leavers from the 10 per cent most deprived areas ended up in education or work last year, against 93 per cent from the 10 per cent least deprived areas.

In a parliamentary debate last week, Nicola Sturgeon, the Deputy First Minister, pledged that the SNP Government would work with the UK Labour Government on its target to halve child poverty by 2010 and eradicate it by 2020. But Save the Children said this would require more money.

The previous government built 283 schools from 1999 to 2003, according to figures released by the SNP under a Freedom of Information request. This contrasts with claims by senior Labour figures Andy Kerr and Jackie Baillie that the former administration had opened a new school every week since 1999, which would have totalled 416.

Scotland is second in the world for the impact of its scientific research. A report commissioned by the Scottish Government from research company Evidence revealed that, judging by the average number of citations per research paper over 10 years in 27 countries, Scotland was beaten only by Switzerland.

Councillors in Aberdeen were to thrash out a strategy for its school estate today. The council believes primary schools should serve between 100-400 pupils, while secondaries should have a minimum of 500 pupils and an upper limit of 1,200. Authorities are expected to take account of the impact on capacities of Government policies on class sizes; Aberdeen has the added complication of pupil movement in and out of Aberdeenshire.

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