Jotter - Ashes to ashes

14th May 2010 at 01:00

With Icelandic volcanic eruptions paying a return visit, Bellahouston Academy heidie Ian Anderson is one of many school staff with a story. He was stranded in Lanzarote for five days over Easter after flights in and out of the UK were banned. When he got back, his SMT had put a lava lamp on his desk.

There were no worries about absent staff when the new term started at Calderwood Lodge, Scotland's only Jewish primary. It wasn't that none had been abroad, or that they were the Chosen People for a seat on a plane, but simply that the school had its holidays a week before everyone else to mark Passover - ensuring that the volcanic plague, er, passed over Calderwood before Eyjafjallajokull blew its top.

Uniform hitch

Let's hear it for Richard Keatings, head of Kinross High. He's been keeping an eye on girls' skirts and sent a letter to some parents declaring: "The length of your daughter's skirt is such that she spends a great deal of time pulling it down. It detracts her attention from the learning process."

As for girls who do not pull down their skirts, the result was to display "sights we do not wish to see".

So what's it to be: skirts up or skirts down?

When Russell was muzzled

Education Secretary Michael Russell visited his old school to a great fanfare of nostalgia last week - his father had been in the very first intake to Troon's Marr College in 1935.

Russell, who left the school in 1970, pronounced himself well-pleased with what he saw. It was not always so: at one point, when he was Shadow Education Minister in the 1999-2003 Parliament, he was forbidden to cross the threshold of the building.

His offence had been to pen a passage in a book observing that the school had fallen on hard times, overcrowded and with its potential "far from being realised because of lacklustre management and a chronic shortage of teachers".

The "autocrats" of South Ayrshire Council then decreed that, if he wished to speak to the head, it must be in the county buildings in Ayr with an education official present.

Perhaps we've finally nailed the real reason Russell is keen to encourage the hands-off approach to running schools that is being promoted by East Lothian Council.

Wider access

The recent Educational Institute of Scotland conference for its headteacher members heard some of them musing over how they were supposed to access the tailored support for schools offered by the Education Secretary.

One suggested the Government should set up a helpline. "They could call it CfE Direct," he quipped.

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