A week in education
The SNP Government's plan to provide free school meals for all P1-3 pupils from 2010 will founder on ministers' failure to fund it, the Scottish Labour Party claims. Reports suggest that 16 out of 32 councils cannot afford it, and only Perth and Kinross, South Ayrshire and West Lothian have said they can. The Government was coy last week about putting a price tag on the initiative, but figures unearthed from evidence to MSPs last year by a senior official indicated it could cost between pound;30 million if there was a 70 per cent uptake and pound;46 million if all early years pupils took advantage.
The former head of Kerelaw School for troubled youngsters in Ayrshire has been awarded pound;62,680 in compensation after winning his unfair dismissal claim against Glasgow City Council. Jim Hunter, 56, is the second senior member of staff at the school, which has now closed following allegations of abuse and neglect of children, to win his case before an employment tribunal. But it found that Mr Hunter was 30 per cent to blame for failing to discharge his health and safety responsibilities, although he countered that he had received no training to do so.
The prime concern of young people calling ChildLine in Scotland remains bullying, which accounted for 7,000 calls last year. The organisation is stepping up its awareness campaign: it staged a conference for pupils and held workshops in primaries in the south of Scotland this week and will be issuing new posters to schools with the message: "Don't accept it. Talk about it."
The Scottish Government is to cut "needless bureaucracy" in its plans to safeguard vulnerable groups of children and adults. Legislation to be introduced next year will not force those who have minimum contact with children, such as people making deliveries to schools, to undergo disclosure checks. And there will be no costly multiple disclosure applications every time staff working with vulnerable groups switch jobs.
The Sexual Offences Bill, which would make it a criminal offence for 13 to 15-year-old girls to have consensual sex with boys of the same age, should be shelved pending "rigorous research" into the likely consequences, according to Kathleen Marshall, the Children's Commissioner. But Labour supports the SNP Government's bill.