A week in education

21st August 2009 at 01:00
A round-up of the week's stories in Scottish education

Clackmannanshire was boasting a UK first this week, as all its 3,000 secondary pupils went back to school in brand new buildings. The council only has three secondaries, but Alloa, Alva and Lornshill academies have all been completely rebuilt in a pound;70 million modernisation programme funded through the public private partnership initiative. Among the schools' features are a sensory garden, hydrotherapy pool, recording studio, quality sports ground and full wireless coverage.

As the new session begins, research reveals that over half of Scottish parents on low incomes cannot afford to pay for all of the costs of sending their children to school. A survey of 1,063 parents, carried out by You Gov for Save the Children and Family Action, revealed that 56 per cent with incomes of less than pound;15,000 will not be able to buy everything their children need to start the school year. The majority (53 per cent) expect to spend between pound;60 and pound;150 per child on back-to-school costs, from clothing to pencils - but local authority clothing grants average only pound;50 per child. Save the Children is urging authorities to increase their spend on these grants and to be more consistent: grants vary from pound;43 in Edinburgh to pound;70 in North Lanarkshire.

Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop and Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon visited Eastfield Primary in Cumbernauld on Monday to re- inforce the importance of good hand and respiratory hygiene in preventing the spread of swine flu. The Government announced that 1.4 million of Scots felt to be most at risk will be vaccinated against the virus from October, but teachers and pupils are not among them as yet.

East Ayrshire is the latest council to introduce nurture groups, pioneered in Glasgow to support the most vulnerable children. The council is to pilot nurture classes in four primaries for the next two years, targeting P1-3 in groups of no more than 10 pupils.

Scottish Borders Council has drawn up a three-year plan to make school meals more inviting for pupils. There is to be more freshly-cooked food where viable, incentives for pupils to use the school canteen, improvements to dining facilities with new approaches such as a "coffee corner" for fifth and sixth year pupils, pasta and sandwich bars, and flexible lunch breaks to reduce overcrowding.

The parent council of St Albert's Primary in Pollokshields has lost its bid for an interim interdict to prevent Glasgow City Council "parachuting" in a new headteacher at the start of term from one of the 11 primaries it closed this summer because of falling pupil rolls. The parent council argued the authority had a legal duty to consult it on the appointment of the headteacher. At the Court of Session, however, Lady Smith ruled that a "redeployment" differed from a "short leet" for a new job, although she left open the possibility of a further hearing.

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