A week in education

9th July 2010 at 01:00

The number of pupils taking school meals has risen by just 1 per cent to 46.1 per cent, despite the concerted efforts to make lunches attractive and nutritional. Those taking a meal in primary schools, however, reached 50.4 per cent, the highest recorded in the past 10 years, with Shetland hitting the top spot on 83.6 per cent. Children's Minister Adam Ingram acknowledges that more could be done, particularly in secondary schools where the proportion taking school meals is 39.6 per cent, with Shetland again the best performer on 91.8 per cent. The minister has written to local authorities and headteachers urging them to take action. But the Child Poverty Action Group said part of the answer was for ministers to keep their promise and extend free meals to all P1-3 pupils.

An education authority which received one of the most severe HMIE roastings is now making "considerable progress" after inspectors worked with senior officers at Moray Council; the educational psychology service is making "encouraging progress". But in Midlothian, inspectors observed curtly that "there are improvements needed" in the psychology service and they will pay another visit in a year's time.

Two-thirds of young people in Scotland think children who are being sexually exploited choose to engage in the activity, according to a survey of Scottish schools by Barnardo's Scotland. But after lessons, 69 per cent felt youngsters did not choose to become involved in sexual exploitation. The charity suggests that warning signs of young people being sexually exploited, or at risk of it, are going missing for short periods, unexplained gifts and disengagement from education. The Barnardo's survey involved 103 pupils aged 14 to 15 in three Glasgow secondaries.

The number of last year's school leavers in "positive destinations" (further or higher education, training or employment) rose slightly in the March after leaving school from 84 per cent the previous year to 85.1 per cent. But the impact of the recession is shown in the employment statistics which reveal that the number in jobs fell by almost 6 per cent. By contrast, colleges and universities provided a bolt hole, receiving 57.5 per cent of leavers in March 2010 compared with 51 per cent in March 2009.

Drink and drugs proved the un-doing of two teachers who were struck from the register last week by the General Teaching Council for Scotland. Art teacher Mary Gray, who worked at Morgan Academy in Dundee, had been given three months to bring her drink problem under control, but the council's disciplinary sub-committee decided she had not made enough progress. Fife technical studies teacher David Young asked to be struck off because his drug addiction made him unfit to teach, and the GTCS obliged.

Pupils attending the 14 Roman Catholic schools named after St Ninian, who is credited with bringing Christianity to Scotland in 397AD, are being given pride of place in a special parade in Edinburgh on September 16 when Pope Benedict XVI kicks off his official visit to the UK.

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