News at a glance
Mooted pension hike 'an austerity tax'
The EIS teaching union has reacted angrily after the Scottish government launched a consultation on a proposed increase to the contribution rate for the teachers' pension scheme just before Christmas. The union is concerned that a further 0.7 per cent hike will increase the average teacher's contributions to 9.5 per cent of pay, up from 6.4 per cent in April 2012. For some teachers in promoted posts, the rise may be even higher. "The latest increase is wholly unjustifiable," said EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan. "It has nothing to do with the cost of teacher pensions but is simply an austerity tax to raise finance for the UK Treasury." A spokesman for the Scottish government said it was opposed to increasing pension contributions but had been forced to do so by the UK government. "In spite of the Scottish government's principled and public opposition to increasing contributions, the UK government has made it clear that the Scottish budget would be reduced if the increases were not implemented," he said.
Read the consultation at bit.lyTeacherPensions
Three teachers struck off, one reprimanded
The General Teaching Council for Scotland last month removed three teachers from the teaching register and issued one with a reprimand. Roseanne Sweetman, an art and design teacher, was removed from the register and admitted all allegations against her, including shouting at colleagues at Mosstodloch Primary School and making negative comments about a student's work and hair colour. English teacher Eppie Sprung Dawson was removed from the register having been convicted at Dumfries Sheriff Court of engaging in sexual activity with a student. Primary teacher Jeroen Van Der Kaay was removed from the register for shouting at and pushing a child in class while working for Dundee City Council. A reprimand was issued to Suzanne McGurl for calling the parents of one of her students "idiots" in an email while employed as a teacher in West Lothian.
Drop in compensation points to fewer injuries
EIS members were paid more than #163;300,000 in compensation over the past year, figures from the teaching union have shown, significantly less than the #163;1.5 million awarded to its teachers and lecturers the previous year. According to Larry Flanagan, the union's general secretary, the drop was a positive development as it indicated fewer serious injuries. Although the most common cause of injury was falling on a slippery surface, the biggest payout was to the victim of an assault by a student. This teacher was awarded more than #163;130,000 as compensation for the long-term injuries caused by the attack. Another teacher was paid almost #163;7,000 after suffering a detached retina when a student threw a sign at their face.
Students win first Higgs Prize for physics
Lucy Willets-White, a former Boroughmuir High student from Edinburgh, and Peter Rhodes, who was a student at Madras College in St Andrews, have scooped the inaugural Higgs Prize. The award, named after Nobel prizewinner Professor Peter Higgs, rewards Scotland's best young school physicists. Later on this year the two winners will attend a specially designed summer school and events programme at Cern, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research in Geneva. Willets-White now studies physics at Imperial College London, while Rhodes is applying for further study from September 2014.