A Week in Education
The controversy over free milk in nurseries has spilled into Scotland. Downing Street abandoned plans to scrap the scheme, even as Universities and Science Minister David Willetts appeared on television to confirm it was under threat. A letter from health minister Anne Milton to her Scottish counterpart, Shona Robison, also discussed plans for the scheme's demise in order to save pound;60 million. SNP MSP Angela Constance has now lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament, condemning the proposal, and written to UK Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, asking for clarification of how far the plans were taken before the U-turn. She also demanded evidence that the UK-wide scheme did not provide value for money.
A former college principal who fought against bogus further education institutions has joined a small private college that targets students from Asia. Howard McKenzie is the new principal at West George College in Glasgow. In 2008, as chief executive of Scotland's Colleges, he wrote to the Home Office arguing that the word "college" be largely restricted to publicly-funded institutions to protect the reputation of Scottish education. Mr McKenzie admitted there was "irony" in his appointment, given previous statements. But he was surprised by what he found at West George: an "entirely legitimate" college where learning experiences are at the "lower end" of those in public-sector colleges, but which has "huge potential".
Highland Council will explore handing over responsibility for services, as it looks for big budget savings in community learning and leisure. Youth and adult learning, swimming pools, leisure centres, art galleries, museums, community centres and libraries would be run by an arms-length organisation, with more than 400 staff members transferred, saving about pound;700,000 a year in rates. The authority is looking for overall savings of about pound;60 million in the coming years.
Highland councillors have agreed to amalgamate or close rural primary schools in Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross, deemed "no longer educationally viable". The council will build a new Caol Primary, and on the same campus merge Lochyside and Fort William primaries; mothball Uig Primary; amalgamate Fort William and Upper Achintore primaries, and close Achaphubuil, Glenborrodale, Achnasheen and Borrowdale primaries.
North Lanarkshire Council's investigation into allegations that hundreds of primary pupils' details were obtained in contravention of the Data Protection Act is underway. Labour MSP Karen Whitefield sent letters to 1,000 P7s in her Airdrie and Shotts constituency in June, wishing them well at secondary school. The MSP, also convener of the Scottish Parliament's education committee, and the headteachers are being investigated by North Lanarkshire Council. Ms Whitefield says she did nothing wrong and that headteachers had given her the information for years.
Scotland's branch of the Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations has been praised by HMIE. Based in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness, it has helped establish more than 600 ethnic-minority organisations. It displays "very effective engagement" with diverse communities, makes a strong contribution to national policy and works well with other bodies. It should build stronger links in community learning, through public-sector agencies such as YouthLink Scotland and Learning Link Scotland.