A week in education
The Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association has given councils a reprieve until the end of this month to meet its demands on resources and support over implementation of Curriculum for Excellence. General secretary Ann Ballinger said six councils were already meeting its demands and the union would therefore not be holding a ballot on industrial action in those areas. But unless progress is made, at least 20 councils could see SSTA members balloted on a "work to contract" next month, she warned. Meanwhile, the Government has suspended the union's membership of the CfE management board while the threat of industrial action remains.
Education Secretary Michael Russell has promised extra measures to protect rural schools from closure. Legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament last year requires local authorities to consult thoroughly on closure proposals, but Mr Russell believes more has to be done to give alternatives a fairer hearing. The Scottish Government will now try to seek agreement on an interpretation of the law to ensure that all "viable alternatives" to closure have a chance of success, regardless of who came up with the idea.
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education has praised FE colleges for improving their provision for young people at risk of disappearing from the learning and employment systems. A report last week noted that, over the past 10 years, colleges in Scotland had significantly increased their focus on the "more choices, more chances" group. But the inspectors said colleges could improve further by publicising more effectively what they are able to do for these youngsters and improving arrangements for tracking their progress through college.
The Educational Institute of Scotland is to commission research into the extent of cyberbullying of teachers. Drew Morrice, assistant secretary, said new laws were needed to bring social networking websites more into line with newspapers and broadcasters which are subject to defamation and libel laws. The EIS receives between 50 and 60 complaints a year from teachers who have been bullied online by students, he said.
Scottish ministers have "called in" proposals by Highland Council to close five primary schools, citing lack of detail in its consultation process. A spokesman for the council expressed disappointment at the decision. However, the closure of four mothballed schools has not been challenged.
Aberdeenshire Council is to develop a new wireless data network to boost connection speeds in its schools and offices. The new network will provide initial revenue budget savings of pound;60,000 a year, following an initial capital investment of pound;700,000. The first phase involves 80 schools, which will have wireless technology installed instead of fibre or copper wire, reducing planned expenditure by more than pound;3 million.
The Department for Education in Whitehall has pulled the plug on Teachers TV. The online site and channel geared to support teachers' professional development will have its pound;10 million annual contract cancelled in April 2011. It had been due to run until 2013.