A week in education
The Scottish Government has been accused of breaking another election promise, this time to deliver five days of subsidised outdoor education for children in deprived communities. Scottish Conservative schools spokesperson Elizabeth Smith questioned whether the SNP would deliver its 2007 manifesto commitment. However, the Minister for Skills and Lifelong Learning, Keith Brown, argued that "substantial progress" was being made towards the goal. An online resource had been launched to help address issues such as health and safety and this "should contribute towards achievement of the target".
The education service in Orkney has been judged "very good" after HMIE confirmed the authority's own judgments. This is the third of the new "validated self-evaluation" exercises to be published (after East Lothian and Perth and Kinross), a voluntary process which is designed to reduce inspection burdens as well as to allow those outside councils to provide feedback on their educational performance. The in- spectors concluded that the local teams gathered information "rigorously and robustly" and the rationale for agreed strengths and re- quired improvements was "sound".
The Scottish Parliament's debating chamber was taken over by more than 120 Scottish primary children on Monday to test their knowledge of European affairs. This year's winning school in the annual Euroquiz competition was St Mary's Primary in Duntocher, West Dunbartonshire, which triumphed for the second year running. The teams of P6s came from all 32 education authorities for the first time, answering questions on a range of subjects including history, culture and sport. Some 2,045 pupils from 409 schools competed in local heats to reach the final. The quiz is run by the Scottish European Educational Trust and has been sponsored until this year by Standard Life.
Teachers in Scotland who have financial worries are to receive specialised help in claiming the money to which they are entitled. The charity Teacher Support Scotland has teamed up with Turn2us so that teachers with problems can understand the world of benefits and grants and access the financial help available to them. The charity believes such a service is more important than ever at a time of budget cuts and the freeze on public pensions.
Greece was not the only beneficiary of European funding this week, as pound;30 million in largesse from Brussels was directed at more than 30,000 people in Scotland to enlarge their work or training opportunities. More than 70 projects are involved. A number target individuals who may face additional barriers to the job market, such as people with learning difficulties or physical disabilities and young care leavers.
The TESS is pleased to announce that it is the media partner for a major conference in Edinburgh, to be run on June 24. Organised by the think- tank, the Centre for Scottish Public Policy, it will seek to answer some big questions around the theme of "Raising our Game: Secondary Schooling in Scotland". One of the key speakers will be Dirk Van Damme, head of the Centre for Research and Innovation at the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.