The Labour party has a new spokesman on education in Scotland, following the surprise resignation of Rhona Brankin. In a general reshuffle of his frontbench team, Labour leader Iain Gray has replaced her with Des McNulty, who spoke for the party on transport and climate change and is the MSP for Clydebank and Milngavie. Stockport-born Mr McNulty, 57, held academic posts in Glasgow and was a councillor in the west of Scotland before being elected to Parliament in 1999. Ms Brankin, who has had some political success in relentlessly pursuing Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop, gave "family reasons" for her decision to step down. She has agreed, however, to stay on to advise the party on policy, particularly with the literacy commission.
Figures released last week show that, to date, the General Teaching Council for Scotland has referred 98 teachers to the Government's disqualified from working with children list (DWCL), which bans them from any workplace where they might come into contact with under-16s. This represents only 0.2 per cent of teachers registered to work in Scotland, but they form a large proportion of the 378 names on the black list.
The number of pupils being educated outwith school with their parents' consent, including those being home educated, has barely changed since last year, having dropped from 756 to 755. But this is the "known" figure, and Schoolhouse, the organisation which represents parents who educate their children at home, has constantly claimed the real figure is much higher. The latest data also shows that 1,066 pupils were educated outwith school in 2008-09 as a result of ill-health or family illness and other circumstances.
HMIE has revamped its well-regarded Journey to Excellence website with support from Learning and Teaching Scotland, which will allow traffic to pass more easily between the two organisations. The new site goes live today. Users will now find resources grouped under five headings: learning and teaching; vision and leadership; partnerships; people; and ethos. In addition, new films appearing on the Journey to Excellence website will automatically appear on the Apple iTunes store.
The Teacher Support Network group, which promotes the well-being of school staff throughout the UK, is urging them to take a break during any day in November - a tea break. The "great teachers' tea break" is intended to encourage teachers to take time out from their work to have a cuppa, cake and chat with friends and colleagues "to celebrate their achievements." It also aims to raise money for the charity which says it will plough it back "to provide vital support for teachers in need."
An award has gone to the General Teaching Council for Scotland for best website or microsite. The Chartered Institute of Public Relations PRide accolade was given for the council's probationers' website.