A plan to reduce the school week in Aberdeen to four-and-a-half days will be put to the public. The city council's policy and strategy committee for education, which includes a minority of teacher members, voted 10-9 in favour of public consultation. Any change will be implemented from the 2009-10 school session. Officials suggest it would provide room for staff development and inter-school activities. The cash- strapped council has also identified potential savings of pound;440,000 a year from reductions in supply cover.
The "asymmetric week", as it is called, has operated in Edinburgh for 21 years, and councils in Scottish Borders, Falkirk and North and South Ayrshire are also holding public consultations on the move.
Anthony Cohen, principal of Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, heads the list of Scots educationists recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours in which he was awarded the CBE. Others include Candace Currie, director of child and adolescent health at Edinburgh University; Vincent Jack, head of Willowbank School in North Lanarkshire; Brian Lister, principal of Cumbernauld College; and Hilary Morrell, headteacher of Dounby Primary in Orkney, who were all made OBEs. In addition, MBEs went to Celia Burn, former national parental involvement co-ordinator; Alexander Kirk, deputy principal of John Wheatley College in Glasgow; and Ian Russell, curriculum leader at Forth Valley College. One of the high-profile awards went to women's international footballer Julie Fleeting (MBE), who is better known in Ayrshire as a PE teacher at St Matthew's Secondary in Saltcoats.
Improving educational attainment and tackling exclusions from school are two of the priorities that have been set for Midlothian Council in a best value report on its overall performance, carried out for the Accounts Commission by Audit Scotland.
The amount made available in student loans to those in higher education rose by 8 per cent in 2007-08 to pound;213 million. The number of borrowers stood at 370,000, and they owed a total of pound;2,052 million, which is an 11 per cent increase on the previous year.
A savings plan which will remove 0.25 per cent a year from Aberdeenshire Council's budget is intended to build up a pound;1 billion fund for capital investment in schools and other projects over the next 15 years. But this will still leave a funding gap of pound;30 million a year in later years, which the council hopes the Government will help to close.
A new qualification in storytelling skills will be accredited by the Scottish Qualifications Authority from September. It has been developed by Newbattle Abbey College and the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh. There are an estimated 110 professional storytellers in Scotland.