A week in education

30th April 2010 at 01:00

Education Secretary Michael Russell continues to rule out a return to the teacher numbers of two years ago, revealing it would cost pound;80 million. He said in parliamentary exchanges last week that the Government was committed to have "the right number of teachers to meet the needs of our pupils". He told former Labour minister Wendy Alexander that the number of teachers in 2009 was 4.2 per cent higher in primary and 2 per cent more in secondary than when she was last a minister (2002). "I regard that as progress," he said.

Glasgow City Council has been told to change its policy on refusing placing requests from other authorities for special needs pupils "as a matter of urgency". The council is in dispute with South Lanarkshire Council on the issue. Children's Minister Adam Ingram told MSPs that Glasgow's position was in line with a 2007 Court of Session judgment but that the 2009 legislation on additional support for learning, due to come into force in August, had changed the law to allow such children to be placed across local authority boundaries. Glasgow would be able to recover the costs from the pupil's home authority, in this case South Lanarkshire.

The 2010 exam season got under way on Wednesday, with Standard grade PE and Intermediate 1 and 2 music. Some 161,500 candidates in 533 schools and colleges will have sat nearly 2 million scripts by the time the exams finish on June 11. Those who register by July 15 will be able to receive their results by text and email a day before the postal delivery on August 5.

School science is among 17 projects throughout Scotland which will benefit from a share in a pound;400,000 pot announced by the Government this week. The science engagement grant scheme will provide pound;100,000 for projects aimed at strengthening young people's experience of science. Four school projects will each receive pound;25,000, including the Institute of Physics "Lab in A Lorry", which will take hands-on science experiments out on the road to 70 secondary schools, reaching 16,000 pupils aged 11-14.

The Education Secretary has challenged independent schools to be "pro- active" in continuing to demonstrate that they are of benefit to the public, if they wish to gain or retain charitable status. At the moment, 46 independent schools are registered as charities. Michael Russell told the annual dinner of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools last week that the private sector was part of the "rich tapestry" of the education system. Figures released this week show barely any change in the number of pupils attending fee-paying schools last year - 30,507 which is 218 fewer than in 2008. The proportion of pupils educated privately thus remains unchanged at 4.3 per cent, the first time it has stopped rising since 2000.

Scotland's child literacy programme in Malawi is a success, according to the six universities which have been participating in it. Scottish lecturers have helped to deliver the country's primary BEd qualification and the first group of Malawian lecturers have now obtained their degrees. They will now work with teachers, in particular to raise pupils' literacy levels.

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