A week in education

12th June 2009 at 01:00
Seven days of news.

Ministers are still considering the future of Learning and Teaching Scotland. The review of "whether (its) functions and tasks still need to be carried out" will be concluded later this year. An update on the Government's "simplification pro-gramme" for public services, which aims to shrink the number of public bodies by over 25 per cent by 2011, confirms that LTS remains under scrutiny but it is not expected to contribute directly to the 25 per cent target. The initiative also encompasses the work of bodies such as HMIE, although its future is not in doubt. In addition, the General Teaching Council for Scotland is to be re- established as totally independent of government: this will help ministers reach their target but will save no money since the GTCS is fully funded by the teachers' fee.

The setting up of Skills Development Scotland, seen as part of the Government's plan to slim down the public service, will cut costs by an estimated Pounds 57 million between 2008 and 2013, the update report (above) reveals. The new body, which brought together Careers Scotland, learndirect Scotland and the training activities of the enterprise agencies, is also expected to achieve recurring savings of Pounds 19 million from the amalgamation.

"Occasional or ad hoc support from a teacher" in nursery schools means "support from a teacher on a non-regular basis", according to a translation for MSPs from Children's Minister Adam Ingram. In another clarification, he said that "sustained peripatetic support that contributes positively to the learning experience for children" means "consistent support from a teacher which is maintained over time". The Government has come under fire from its opponents over the meaning of its election pledge to give every pre-school child "access" to a qualified teacher.

Hawick High, featured in The TESS on October 20, 2006 for its efforts to boost the attainment of girls in a school where boys, unusually, had the edge on performance, has come under fire from the right-wing Mail on Sunday and the Campaign for Real Education after boys' achievements fell away. Despite the improvements for girls which resulted, human rights lawyer John Scott warned that Scottish Borders Council could be open to legal challenge since the school "has been targeting resources at pupils based on their sex".

The Scottish Government is continuing discussions with the General Teaching Council for Scotland on a longitudinal survey of probationers to get a better understanding of their employment and attitudes than can be gleaned from the twice-yearly GTCS survey, Schools Minister Keith Brown has confirmed. The latest survey revealed that only four out of 10 probationers from last year had found permanent teaching posts in Scotland by April.

A pioneering Scottish software system, "How was school today?", will allow pupils with communication difficulties to share the experiences of their day with their parents or guardians when they get home. The technology, devised by Dundee and Aberdeen universities, has had a successful trial with pupils at Corseford School, near Glasgow. "It allows children to take control of their conversation without having to rely on help from us," headteacher Sue Williams said.

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