A Week in Education

16th October 2009 at 01:00
The week's Scottish education news

The Government has given Learning and Teaching Scotland a clean bill of health. Its strategic review has concluded, in effect, that if LTS did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it. A question mark has hung over its future as part of the Government's "bonfire of the quangos," but Schools Minister Keith Brown says the review findings "clearly indicate that there is a need for a national body that provides schools with guidance, support and advice". As a result of the review, local authorities will be given an enhanced role in the work of LTS.

Few schools have taken up the Government's flagship bacca-laureates, new figures show. The Scottish Qualifications Authority said only 13 schools and colleges had registered for the languages qualification by the deadline at the start of the month, while 63 schools and colleges had signed up for the science baccalaureate. Critics said schools had not been convinced by the supposed benefits of the qualification, but the Government insisted bacca-laureates would become more popular in the coming years.

The number of young people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance has risen by 75 per cent since 2007, according to analysis of Government statistics by the Scottish Trades Union Congress. In six authorities the figure, which applies to people aged between 18 and 24, has risen by more than 100 per cent. The steepest rise (158 per cent) was in East Lothian.

Staff at a body set up after the Dunblane massacre are facing the sack. The Central Registered Body in Scotland (CRBS) was set up after Lord Cullen's report on the events of March 1996, and enables voluntary organisations working with children to get disclosure checks free of charge. The Government has cut funding in half, leaving the body pound;115,000 short for 2009-10. Staff had until last Friday to choose voluntary redundancy, or face compulsory lay-offs.

Some 300 pupils - a quarter of the roll - were absent from Linlithgow Academy in West Lothian last week after swine flu swept through the school. That figure had dropped to 151 by Tuesday, of which 53 absentees were confirmed as having flu-like symptoms. Meanwhile, at the time of going to press, 160 pupils and teachers had fallen ill after a swine flu outbreak at Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh.

A pound;50,000 boost for Gaelic education has been announced. The Government has awarded the Royal National Mod pound;35,000 for a development officer to plan ahead for the 2010 Mod in Caithness, including supporting Gaelic learning in the area. Gaelic Minister Michael Russell also announced that Argyll and Bute Council would receive pound;15,000 to increase Gaelic courses and provide access to Ulpan classes, an intensive method of learning the language.

Glasgow City Council has come in for criticism after a new sex education programme (TESS last week) advocated P1 lessons on body parts. Conservative education spokeswoman Liz Smith said there would be "massive concerns" and that time would be better spent teaching children to read, write and count. The council said teachers, pupils and parents had overwhelmingly backed the plans.

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