A Week in Education

8th January 2010 at 00:00

Labour claims a decreased share of the national budget for local authorities is responsible for the fall in teacher numbers over the past two years. Scottish Government figures show the proportion given to councils falling from 34.7 per cent in 2006-07 to 33.9 per cent in 2010- 11. Labour's local government spokesman, Michael McMahon, said this amounted to pound;270 million, equivalent to the cost of employing 9,000 newly- qualified teachers. Labour used data from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre, which showed it cost some pound;30,638 to employ a new teacher in their post-probationary year. Separate figures had shown there were 2,089 fewer teachers in Scotland than when the SNP came into power. A Government spokesman said difficult spending decisions had to be made.

Two teachers died while climbing Ben Nevis. Experienced climber William Wilkinson, a 34-year-old geography teacher at Culloden Academy in Inverness, had been climbing No 3 Gully on December 30 when an avalanche started. Nicholas Rosedale, 37, and known by his middle name of Rupert, also died. He was head of outdoor activities at Marlborough College, Wiltshire.

This week's severe weather extended the festive break for many pupils throughout Scotland. All schools were closed on Tuesday and Wednesday in Aberdeenshire and the Borders; Midlothian, East Lothian and Shetland shut all their schools on Wednesday; Dumfries and Galloway closed all schools on Tuesday and only reopened a few on Wednesday. In the rest of the country, some schools were closed or partially closed in Aberdeen, South Lanarkshire, Fife, Edinburgh, Argyll and Bute, the Western Isles, Orkney and Perth and Kinross. In the UK as a whole, the freezing conditions led to an estimated 3,000 schools staying shut on Tuesday.

A Lego robot built by pupils at an Edinburgh primary has been declared the best in Scotland, beating entries from secondary and independent schools. The P6s at Duddingston Primary were competing in the first Lego League Tournament in Scotland, held at Edinburgh University. Their creation, named Duddy Cybernetics, impressed judges to warrant a place in the British final in Loughborough on January 23.

The apparent benefits of educational computer games have persuaded Education Secretary Mike Russell that such technology needs to be embraced. Dundee University's David Miller, working with Learning and Teaching Scotland, has looked at the effects of "brain-training" games, and noted that motivation levels are high when children are "in the zone" of playing. Mr Russell said: "Computer games are often perceived as solely a distraction. However, alongside traditional learning aids, they can help make learning more engaging."

A healthy childhood is the "foundation" to both mental and physical health, says chief medical officer Harry Burns in his fourth annual report. "An early start is the best start," he states. "We know that getting it right for our children gives them the best possible chance of a healthy adult life - and that includes their mental health. My report is clear we may have under-estimated how much mental health and well-being affects our ability to make healthy choices, and a healthy childhood is the foundation of a healthy life."

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