A Week in Education
A dearth of specialists in primary schools is largely responsible for the dwindling popularity of science and maths as pupils get older, a UK- wide report by The Royal Society has found. Children as young as seven are already showing less enthusiasm for maths than reading and school in general, while secondaries often fail to take account of previous learning in science and maths. But Curriculum for Excellence offers hope to science: it remains a standalone subject, whereas other parts of the UK subsume science into broader areas of study and therefore increase the danger of it being taught superficially. The report singles out for praise the CPD support for primary and secondary teachers provided by the Scottish Schools Equipment Research Centre and urges the Government to continue funding it beyond 2011.
An average of 550 pupils a year are being excluded from Scottish schools for drinking alcohol or taking drugs, according to data released under the Freedom of Information Act. The Scottish Government has stressed that the most recent figures, for 2007-09, show a fall in such cases. The largest number, in the five years to 2009, was recorded in North Lanarkshire, where 309 pupils were excluded for substance abuse.
Marks amp; Spencer has started selling school uniforms for obese pupils. Its new Plus schoolwear range, which caters for children aged three to 16, includes trousers and skirts for 41-inch waists. It is on trial through the company's website. The National Obesity Forum said 27 per cent of children starting primary school were overweight or obese.
The Scottish Government has come in for more criticism over the SNP's election promise to give all schoolchildren two hours of physical education per week. Education Secretary Michael Russell revealed in a parliamentary answer that the Government had not collected detailed statistics about PE provision since 2005, which Labour has interpreted as a failure to take the policy seriously. Earlier this month, following a Labour freedom of information request, it emerged that only 35 per cent of primary schools and 23 per cent of secondaries had reached the target. The Government has reiterated its commitment to the pledge, without specifying a timescale.
Children's Commissioner Tam Baillie has started a summer tour to find out the biggest issues facing young people in Scotland. The tour is part of "A Right Blether", a national consultation aimed at allowing children to shape Mr Baillie's work over the next four years. It will culminate in a national vote in November, when they will vote to identify the top four issues that should be incorporated into his work plan.
The organisation that represents young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Scotland has received a positive report from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education. LGBT Youth Scotland, inspected as part of a programme of visits to national voluntary youth organisations, was praised for several aspects of its work, including efforts to tackle homophobia in schools and its well-motivated and skilled volunteers. It was advised to improve national coverage of the organisation by building links with communities, and to take a more systematic approach to analysing its own performance.