A week in education

19th June 2009 at 01:00

The SNP Government's class-size policy was thrown into further confusion this week by decisions on placing requests in Edinburgh. After 29 appeals by parents of next session's P1 pupils against the council's attempt to cap classes at 25, 10 have been upheld which will increase two P1 classes from 25 to 30; where appeals have been rejected, classes will remain at 25. Marilyne MacLaren, the city council's education leader, wants the Government to impose a legally-enforceable limit on class sizes. The TESS revealed on May 29 that ministers were "considering" such a move.

The scope of the General Teaching Council for Scotland should be widened to require registration by other groups working in education, such as classroom assistants, out-of-school care staff and arts workers. Children in Scotland, responding to the consultation on making the GTCS a full independent body, says confining the register to teachers "does not reflect today's much broader approach to education".

While the criticism of last week's announcement on new National Qualifications centred on pupils being able to leave school in S4 without sitting an external exam, the response from CBI Scotland was effusive. The employers' organisation welcomed what it believes will be the simplification of "a cluttered qualifications landscape", and reserved particular praise for the certification of pupils' literacy and numeracy skills which it said would meet the "long-standing concerns" of employers.

The performance of the authorities dealing with child protection in the Perth and Kinross Council area has drawn the customary verdict from inspectors calling for more integrated work and improved recording by the various professionals. But there was praise for the joint planning arrangements and for the support services for children. Of the 18 indicators of performance, there was one evaluation of "excellent", 10 of "very good" and seven of "good".

Figures from North Lanarkshire Council have revealed an average 239 applicants for every primary vacancy, with the number reaching 500 in one case. Labour rushed to castigate the Education Secretary for her "shameful" handling of the teacher recruitment crisis and Rhona Brankin, the party's education spokesperson, said: "A quick look at the forums on the Times Educational Supplement Scotland's website (shows) how upset teachers are, having performed excellently during their probationary year only to be thrown on the scrapheap."

Judith Gillespie, development manager with the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, has announced she is to retire after more than 20 years with the organisation. As the most recognisable and resolute voice of parents in that period, she leaves at a time when the leadership of the body has reached a crisis.

A college computer specialist who was sacked after his wife reported he had been sending explicit sexual material from his work at Cardonald College to his home computer, was technically unfairly dismissed, an employment tribunal ruled. But it added that Allan Ure, 50, was to blame and awarded him no compen-sation. The college's "purely technical breach" had been to fail to warn him in advance of his disciplinary hearing that he could be dismissed.

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