A Week in Education
Galashiels Academy has produced Scotland's star pupil. Ruth Sandison was chosen as School Candidate of the Year in the annual Star Awards, hosted by the Scottish Qualifications Authority in Edinburgh last Friday. She won over the judges for getting an A in Intermediate 2 maths and three Higher A passes, despite undergoing chemotherapy treatment for leukaemia and suffering a stroke. She then went on to study for another two Highers, and became a buddy to a first-year boy who also had leukaemia. Next week's TESS will tell her tale of "exceptional achievement", and give details of the other winners.
The leader of public services union Unison has called for education support staff to be more highly valued. Matt Smith, the union's Scottish secretary, said: "From classroom assistants to school meals staff, and from early years workers to librarians, they ensure our kids get a high standard of education. However, support staff in education tend to be the lowest paid and least valued, and it is no coincidence that many of them are women."
Auchmuty High in Glenrothes hit the headlines for two unwelcome reasons last week. Its former head David Wilson, praised for his effectiveness by HMIE last year, pleaded guilty to downloading and possessing almost 3,000 child pornography images between May 2004 and December 2008; he was arrested during the Operation Algebra probe which led to the jailing of Scotland's biggest paedophile ring, and he will be sentenced later this month. Auchmuty also emerged as having the worst record of vandalism among Scottish schools. A newspaper survey revealed that pound;52,124 had to be spent repairing it last year after 126 separate incidents of vandalism; five of the top 10 schools were in Fife.
There are now 137,000 Scottish children who have no parent in work and the number of youngsters in families having to survive on benefits has jumped by 13 per cent in 12 months, according to a new report by the Campaign to End Child Poverty in Scotland. It wants the UK Government to invest pound;4 billion in a benefits, childcare support and jobs package.
A new national campaign was launched this week to ensure parents get more help with their children's learning. "Just ask" will point to the support available to resolve educational difficulties, but also to problems which can have an impact on learning, such as divorce, bullying and bereavement. The campaign will run until March next year.
Paul McLaughlin, Scotland's headteacher of the year for 2009 (St Ninian's High, East Dunbartonshire), was the only guest from north of the border invited to join the Prime Minister at Downing Street this week to celebrate the UK teaching awards.
Inverclyde Council has approved a new admissions and placing request policy for its schools after an independent review found its previous policy lacked consistency and transparency. A key change is the requirement that parents must choose denominational or non-denominational education at the time of entry to primary school; previously, entry to a secondary was determined by address rather than whether a child had attended an associated primary.