A week in education
A report on preventative spending, published this week by the finance committee of the Scottish Parliament, suggests that greater investment in health professionals is required to support early years programmes. It calls for a shift from reactive to preventative spending. The committee's convener, Andrew Welsh, said: "Some of the most powerful evidence we heard relates to the early years of life. We were told that, `the way children are treated in their first three years has a direct bearing on whether they grow up to be pro or anti-social, adjusted or dysfunctional, peaceable or violent, healthy or unhealthy.'"
The Renfrewshire area enjoys child protection services which are of an exceptionally high standard, according to the latest HMIE report. The inspectors handed out three ratings of "excellent", two "very good" and one "good". They concluded that "the well-being of the most vulnerable children and families is significantly improved by a wide range of high- quality services." The services under scrutiny were education, social work, health, fire, police, the children's hearings and the voluntary sector.
Fife Council, until recently the last council to employ dedicated playground supervisors, has rejected claims by Labour MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife, Claire Baker, that cuts by the SNP-led council have led to support assistants being taken out of the classroom to provide playground cover. Peter Grant, Fife Council leader, described Ms Baker's claims as "complete mince", adding that previously ring-fenced budgets were now being devolved to headteachers. He denied that Fife's 130 playground supervisors had been made compulsorily redundant. Ms Baker called on the council to "come clean" on the full effect of its cuts.
The new Children's Hearing (Scotland) Act has been given Royal Assent. Children's Minister Adam Ingram said that this would allow for reforms to the system to be completed this year. These will include the abolition of Scotland's 32 local children's panels, replacing them with one national panel which will be supported by Children's Hearings Scotland, a new body responsible for the training of Scotland's 2,500 local panel members. The act aims to streamline the system and deliver greater national consistency.
Education Secretary Michael Russell has praised Scottish Water for its efforts to ensure two schools in East Ayrshire and Stirling could reopen last week. Ochiltree and Fintry primaries were only able to open on time after the agency replaced a frozen and ruptured water meter at Ochiltree and provided Fintry with a bowser and a supply of bottled water. "Hats off to Scottish Water," said Mr Russell. "They've pulled out all the stops to ensure that these two schools were able to open."
The TESS last week reported that West Dunbartonshire was among the councils to have scrapped class size targets of a maximum of 20 pupils in S1-2 for English and maths. In fact, West Dunbartonshire Council should have been listed among the authorities where the policy is still in place.