A week in education

29th January 2010 at 00:00

Pupil exclusions have fallen by 15 per cent, the second consecutive drop, according to statistics published this week. The reduction was a sign that behaviour problems were being tackled by schools and that pupils were more engaged in their learning, said Keith Brown, the Minister for Skills and Lifelong Learning, on a visit to Lochend Community High in Glasgow, which has achieved significant reductions in pupil exclusions in recent years. More than 99 per cent of all exclusions were temporary. In 87 cases, pupils were removed permanently - a decrease of 47 per cent from the 200708 figure of 164 cases. Some 18,100 different pupils (3 per cent) were excluded - unchanged from the previous year. Ken Macintosh, Labour's schools spokesman, said: "It is deeply worrying that at the serious end of the scale, the number of physical assaults with a weapon on teachers and on pupils is up yet again."

Former presiding officers Lord Steel and George Reid have rejected as not "appropriate" a complaint that First Minister Alex Salmond deliberately breached the Ministerial Code in statements over the Scottish Government's class-size commitment. Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott and Labour MSP Hugh Henry claimed that Mr Salmond misled the Scottish Parliament when he claimed the class-size cuts to a maximum of 18 could be achieved within this parliamentary session, despite having received advice from civil servants that this was not feasible.

The Scottish National Party claimed to have surpassed the previous Labour- Liberal Democrat executive's school-building plans when First Minister Alex Salmond opened Cults Academy in Aberdeen this week. This was the 251st new school to be opened across Scotland, said the SNP, whereas Labour's 2007 manifesto had promised to complete only 250 in this term. But Des McNulty, Labour's shadow education secretary, accused the SNP of "astonishing hypocrisy" for trying to claim credit for 157 schools that were started before it came into office.

Highland Council is investigating complaints by parents that P1-5 girls at Castletown Primary in Caithness were humiliated when they were forced to have their underwear checked by teachers in front of classmates after "extreme soiling" was found in the toilets. Headteacher Sheila Malcolm told parents in a letter: "In order to prevent cross-infection and to ensure no child was left in an uncomfortable condition for the whole afternoon, we decided it would be in all the children's best interests to check all the girls' underwear."

The director of the Scottish Catholic Education Service, Michael McGrath, has offered to broker talks between East Renfrewshire and Glasgow City councils after a court ruled that East Renfrewshire's bid to remove hundreds of homes in the catchment area of St Ninian's High in Giffnock, within Glasgow's boundaries, was unlawful.

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