A week in education

4th December 2009 at 00:00

The appeal court has pointedly criticised the authorities for pursuing a case against a Dundee teacher. Mike Barile, 51, was found guilty at the city's sheriff court last year of assaulting two 15-year-old boys at the then Lawside Academy, despite what the sheriff agreed was the "extreme provocation" and "disgraceful behaviour" he faced. The Justiciary Appeal Court in Edinburgh upheld his conviction but commented that, given "the complainers' disgraceful behaviour and the relatively insignificant nature of his physical response, it is difficult to understand why it was thought to be in the public interest . to bring criminal proceedings at all". The appeal court also agreed with the sheriff that, had Mr Barile not been a teacher, it is unlikely he would have been prosecuted.

The number of pupils in state schools will not start rising again until 2015, according to the latest school census. There were 677,000 this year, and that will drop to 662,000 over the next six years. Thereafter, the numbers will begin climbing to peak at 684,000 in 2022. The pupil:teacher ratio increased from 12.9:1 in 2008 to 13.2:1 in 2009.

The claim and counter-claim over local government funding of education and other services is set to continue after Finance Secretary John Swinney announced a council settlement which would increase revenue support by pound;308 million, or 2.9 per cent, in the financial year beginning next April. Another pound;70m would be provided to offset the ongoing council tax freeze.

The Scottish Government must provide private nurseries with more money if it wants them to be better led. A survey carried out by the National Day Nurseries Association Scotland found that its members' greatest concern was how they could afford to take on managers at level 9 (just above Higher National Diploma standard in the qualifications framework). The survey also revealed that 67 per cent of private nurseries said they had a "good" or "excellent" relationship with their local authority, and two- thirds said their experience of inspection was constructive.

In what is said to be the first award of its kind to an authority, North Lanarkshire Council has been recognised for the excellence of its out-of- school care. The Aiming High Scotland award is a kitemark of quality developed by the Scottish Out of School Care Network, which described the council's approach as "visionary".

The Scottish Funding Council has announced that it is shelling out a substantial additional sum of pound;11.9 million to further education colleges in student support. Although it falls short of the pound;21.3m colleges were seeking, it brings the total allocation for bursaries, childcare and discretionary funds to pound;91m in this academic year, an increase of 13 per cent on 2008-09. Mark Batho, SFC chief executive, said the council recognised the pressure on colleges from growing student demand which was "very volatile in the present economic climate".

Last week's TESS was more generous to the Government than we intended. The pound;10 million early retirement scheme for teachers, announced by Education Secretary last week, is intended to meet the upfront costs of allowing up to 500 teachers to leave the profession over two years, not each year as reported.

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