A week in education
The SNP Government is to launch a review of child protection guidelines, Adam Ingram, the Children's Minister, announced. It follows the adverse multi-agency inspection report of services in Aberdeen, but will draw on all 24 child protection reports published so far and the remainder to be completed by mid-2009. The review will also look at what went right in West Lothian, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, which received positive reports.
The First Minister has dismissed a survey by the Educational Institute of Scotland that showed education was at risk in two-thirds of local authorities because of spending cuts. Alex Salmond told parliament last week that the final financial returns from local government indicated that spending on education had increased by an average of 5.5 per cent. He said the real threat to classroom spending in Scotland was the impending Pounds 500 million in cuts being imposed by the Westminster Government.
The annual George Gray award, given to the best undergraduate thesis on primary education, has been won by a Perth and Kinross teacher. Elizabeth Fuller, 42, graduated with a first class BEd honours degree from Dundee University and is due to join the probationer induction scheme next year. Her thesis, described by the judges as "insightful," was entitled "Tots Trop Tot? - Should Foreign Language Learning Begin in P1?"
A report by Unicef shows that Scotland and the UK meet only three of the 10 early years benchmarks established by the United Nations children's agency. In the same week as the Scottish Government launched its long-awaited early years framework, the report makes "a compelling case" for far more investment in a universal system of early years services and family support, according to Children in Scotland. There is "no convincing reason" for spending less on early childhood education than on older pupils, Unicef says.
SNP-run Angus Council's plans to reduce class sizes to 18 in P1-3 demonstrate the fraught steps authorities are having to take to meet the Government's commitment. It has chosen to focus its efforts on the largest schools, and to set a maximum of 27 pupils in P1-3. There is no hope of meeting the 18-pupil limit without additional resources or a sharp fall in primary rolls, says Peter Nield, the education convener.