The inspectorate has given high praise for educational leadership, pupil attainment, the commitment to inclusion and good quality CPD in Shetland Islands Council. The major shortcomings, common in many HMIE reports on education authorities, are performance in S2, quality improvement and support for pupils with behavioural problems.
Parents wishing a private education for their children are facing their own "credit crunch," according to the Scottish Council of Independent Schools. It was responding to a report from the Bank of Scotland on the affordability of school fees, which have increased in Scotland by 35 per cent in five years, from an average of pound;6,567 to pound;8,859. SCIS estimates suggest that fees will rise between 4 and 6 per cent in the coming session. The bank's survey says that the average worker in only 18 occupations can afford to send their child to a private school, compared to 30 in 2003.
Aberdeenshire Council is embarking on an initiative which it hopes will see the number of pupils taking free school meals more than double, from 1,590 to 3,484. Pupils will be sent a certificate entitling them to pay nothing once deemed eligible for housing or council tax benefits. Schools will be informed of who will get free meals, but not the reasons.
Gaelic-medium education is not just for the Gaels. Government figures reveal that, at the September school census last year, 33 children from black and ethnic minority families were being taught through Gaelic.
Following the vote by delegates at the annual conference of the Educational Institute of Scotland calling for a review of how HMIE operates, opposition MSPs are continuing their scrutiny. The latest, from the Liberal Democrat Hugh O'Donnell, sought information on the qualifications expected of inspectors, and the measures in place for their continuing professional development. Maureen Watt, the Schools Minister, said that, as part of their "intensive assessment" prior to joining the inspectorate, they have to show competence in written and oral communication, analysis and investigation, and team management.
The costs of holiday childcare are continuing to rise in the UK, figures from Daycare Trust reveal. But Scotland has among the lowest, at an average of pound;82.88 a week against pound;91.56 in England - an increase of 8.6 per cent compared with a rise of 10 per cent in England and 5.3 per cent in Wales.
Inverclyde Schools Junior Choir has triumphed at the World Choir Games in Graz, Austria, winning a gold diploma in the first round and a silver medal in the final. The 72-strong choir arrived back in Greenock 17 hours late after lightning damaged their plane before departure.