A Week in Education

29th February 2008 at 00:00
The Education Secretary will face another test of her school closures policy following last week's decision by the full Western Isles Council to close the two-year secondary department of Daliburgh School on South Uist.

Daliburgh pupils are more than 10 miles from the nearest alternative secondary, meaning the closure has to be approved by Fiona Hyslop. Western Isles councillors also voted to axe the S1-2 stages at Bayble School on Lewis as part of an extensive rationalisation.

Last week, the minister ran into flak from local authorities - but delighted parents - when she rejected Moray Council's proposal to close Cabrach Primary, which has only two pupils and will cost pound;100,000 to keep open.

A "schools design champion" is to be appointed to promote good design in schools. This is part of a new Architecture and Design Scotland-run programme, which will give all councils access to one-to-one advice on school building projects. The Government will provide funding of pound;500,000 over three years.

Under-16s are no longer to be locked up in prison. Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill plans to abolish "unruly certificates", which allow children appearing before the courts on criminal charges to be remanded in custody because of their "unruly" character. Instead, he wants them placed in a secure unit or tagged. The move follows heavy criticism from the chief inspector of prisons, who reported 26 cases of under-16s being held in young offenders' institutions or adult prisons last year.

Unhealthy eating is still part of the daily diet of the youngest children, according to the Growing up in Scotland survey, which is tracking the experiences of 8,000 families on a range of issues. At 22 months old, 43 per cent of children ate chocolate or sweets at least once a day, it says. But 85 per cent ate at least two types of fruit a day and 70 per cent had at least two types of vegetable. The Government responded by pointing to its pound;56 million investment in tackling obesity, unhealthy eating and physical inactivity over the next three years. And this week it announced a pound;530,000 "fit for girls" programme, aimed at encouraging 11- to 16-year-old schoolgirls to become more active.

The Professional Association of Teachers is having a makeover throughout the UK and, as of yesterday, will be known as Voice. Maureen Laing, its senior professional officer in Scotland, said they chose the name "because dialogue is a core value for our union - it's how we resolve issues, rather than by taking industrial action".

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