A week in education

24th November 2006 at 00:00
Powers to give parents more involvement in appointing headteachers and deputies have been unveiled by the Scottish Executive.

A consultation has been launched on proposed regulations that would ensure the new parent councils are consulted before any recruitment process begins; give parents a legal right to be involved in shortlisting; and guarantee that parents make up at least one third of any appointment panel.

Currently, parental representation is only required at the final interview of the recruitment process.

The number of children being referred to children's panel reporters has doubled in the past 10 years. In its annual report for 2005-06, The Scottish Children's Reporter Administration showed that almost 54,000 children were referred, compared to 27,000 in 1996-97. The main reason is a big rise in children referred on care and protection grounds, which include sexual offences, domestic abuse and neglect. There were 40,931 children who were referred on this basis.

Looked-after children are still lagging behind national averages for exam results. According to figures published by the Scottish Executive, only 62 of 1,267 teenagers leaving care last year gained one Higher - less than 5 per cent, compared to 38 per cent for pupils as a whole. A half did not have any Standard grades, against less than 10 per cent for pupils overall.

Only 37 per cent leaving care are known to be in education, employment or training, compared to over 80 per cent of the general pupil population.

The Scottish Parent Teacher Council has told members of the Scottish Parliament's education committee they fear the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Bill leaves no scope for amendment, as the legislation is supposed to mirror the parallel English bill which has already been passed.

The organisation also argues that the proposed vetting plans are too expensive and bureaucratic. It claims they are focused on the lowest areas of risk, leaving children exposed in areas of much higher risk. The SPTC argues the implementation of disclosure procedures by some authorities has already had the knock-on effect of reducing volunteering.

Highland and Moray schools are to share almost pound;1 million from the Scottish Executive to improve leadership skills among school and education department staff. Highland will receive pound;600,000 for a project to set up online training tools and create a leadership community that existing and aspiring leaders can turn to for advice. Moray will receive pound;300,000 to develop its leaders though a coaching project, aimed at helping teachers and council workers to identify and achieve their ambitions.

A once familiar face in education circles is to return to prominence, with the news that Jim Martin, who was general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland from 1987 until 1995, has acquired a second job in the public sector. Mr Martin, who runs a consultancy, has been appointed as Scotland's first Police Complaints Commissioner. He is already a member of the Scottish Funding Council.

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