A Week in Education

15th May 2009 at 01:00
Public spending watchdog Audit Scotland has once again underlined the decrepit state of many Scottish schools

A report on the 12,400 properties owned by local authorities found that 27 per cent were in poor or bad shape, compared with 36 per cent of the 2,700 council schools; only the dead in cemeteries scored worse than pupils in schools for the condition of their surroundings. But the report issues a health warning that councils vary in how they assess buildings: some use trained assessors while others rely on users such as headteachers who "can have widely differing ideas as to what makes a suitable school design".

The "vast majority" of pupils are "well behaved, well motivated and keen to succeed", Tory education spokesperson Liz Smith told Parliament last week in a debate called by her party to express alarm over indiscipline. Other MSPs lined up behind her to express similar sentiments. Keith Brown, the Schools Minister, offered reassurance that the latest behaviour survey, carried out every three years, would "elicit far more valuable information" than previous ones. The findings would point to whether more frequent reporting was necessary, he said.

The Glasgow special school shortlisted for an international design award was narrowly pipped at the post when the judging took place last week. Hazelwood School, one of only two education institutions in Europe to make the final of the competition run by World Architecture News.Com, emerged as one of the two top contenders. The judging panel said the decision "went right to the wire" before an Australian technical college in Victoria was chosen as the winner - but "both would have been worthy winners," it stated.

The first school in Aberdeen City Council's Pounds 120 million 3Rs (reorganise, renovate and rebuild) project has opened to pupils, on schedule and on budget. Children from the old Middlefield and Marchburn schools last week moved into the Pounds 7m Heathryburn School in the Northfield area. The public- private partnership scheme aims to create seven new primaries, two new secondaries, and one refurbished primary school, with community and sports facilities an important feature of each. It is unclear when the project will be completed, following the collapse last year of an Icelandic bank which had been funding it.

The number of school nurses rose by just 17 to 329 in the year to September 2008, despite an SNP election promise to double the figure. Ross Finnie, the Liberal Democrat health spokesperson, whose parliamentary question elicited the information, suggested this was "more kindling for the raging bonfire of SNP manifesto pledges".

Two Inverclyde schools became the first in Scotland to be closed as a precautionary measure this week after "probable" cases of swine flu. Ravenscraig Primary and Ladybird Nursery, both Greenock, each had one pupil diagnosed with the virus. As we went to press, the two schools were told to shut for seven days. Children and staff who had close contact with the children were given the anti-viral drug Tamiflu.

Fourteen teachers received professional recognition awards from the General Teaching Council for Scotland this week. They took part in the global teachers programme, completing a five-week placement in primary schools in Malawi and Uganda during their summer holiday last year.

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