A week in education

10th September 2010 at 01:00

Traditional school education has been "ineffective" in teaching pupils about alcohol, according to the special commission on alcohol set up by the Labour Party in Scotland. It calls for improved educational techniques and new initiatives, starting in primary schools and involving peer-based learning, drama and alternative activities. The commission, chaired by eminent educationist Professor Sally Brown, makes a number of wide-ranging recommendations. It was set up by Labour to suggest alternatives to the SNP Government's policy of minimum unit pricing for drink.

The home education organisation Schoolhouse believes it has been given the strongest ministerial support yet, following parliamentary replies from Education Secretary Michael Russell to Green MSP Robin Harper. Mr Russell, who has been sharply critical in the past of education authority attitudes to home education, told Mr Harper that it should be treated as "a key aspect of parental choice" and added: "We recognise the legitimacy of that choice". Schoolhouse claims that, despite two years of statutory guidance, too many parents were still being "routinely misinformed" about their rights by local authorities.

Schools can be as radical as the education community is prepared to allow in putting the new curriculum into practice, Skills Minister Keith Brown told an educational leadership conference last week. He backed "diverse approaches" but said heads must be given the autonomy to ensure that happened.

Glasgow is to extend a parenting programme to help families cope with their chaotic home lives. It follows a report for the city council on the impact of some pupils' backgrounds on their education. It unveiled the plan to extend the programme, being piloted in five schools, to 40 of Glasgow's 146 primaries. It will cost pound;250,000 initially.

Scottish Borders Council is investigating remarks by Robert Kelly, head of Berwickshire High, who told a girls-only assembly that they should avoid dressing provocatively to discourage "inappropriate thoughts" among boys. He pointed to a television advert by Rape Crisis Scotland as evidence of the effect "skimpy" clothing could have on men - although the advert is intended to make the point that no woman is responsible for rape, whatever she wears. A parent complained about Mr Kelly's comments. Glenn Rodger, the director of education, said he was "supportive" of the school's commitment to encourage pupils to wear school uniform.

A privately-run Christian primary school on Lewis is being reported by the inspectorate to the registrar of independent schools for a recommendation on whether it should continue to operate. A follow-through HMIE report issued this week on Lewis Independent Christian School found a lack of progress in tackling weaknesses highlighted in a previous report last year. The final decision on the school's future rests with ministers.

A prayer kneeler and four chairs to be used by the Pope in his private quarters before he celebrates Mass next Thursday in Bellahouston Park, Glasgow has been designed and created by pupils from Queen Margaret Academy in Ayr. The furniture was commissioned by Father Stephen McGrattan, a former chaplain at the school who will be part of the team attending Pope Benedict.

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