News at a glance

10th January 2014 at 00:00

Free school meals policy comes to fruition

Every P1 to P3 child in Scotland will be entitled to a free school meal from January next year, the Scottish government announced this week. The move comes seven years after the SNP first pledged to deliver free meals to that age group in its 2007 manifesto, and in the wake of free meals being introduced in England for early primary students. The government has estimated the cost of the policy in its first full year of implementation at #163;42 million. First Minister Alex Salmond said the proposal would save families at least #163;330 a year for each child. He also announced that free childcare for two-year-olds would be extended, reaching 27 per cent of all children that age by August next year.

Students called out for phone use

Schools should force students to hand over their mobile phones before entering classrooms, the Scottish Conservatives have argued. Research by the party found 2,175 instances of young people being disciplined for using phones in school over the past three years, although it added that the actual figure was probably "significantly higher" as only a third of councils provided data. The Conservatives said such a change would address "cheating in the classroom, unnecessary distractions and... cyberbullying". Education spokeswoman Mary Scanlon said: "This is something parents and teachers want to see us get tough on - it should very much be the norm that mobile phones are handed over at the classroom door."

#163;1m to help teachers transition from training

More than #163;1 million has been made available by the Scottish government to help new teachers move smoothly from university into the classroom, in response to recommendations from the 2011 Donaldson report on teacher education. The money is designed to help local authorities and universities work more closely together, support teacher secondments, train teacher mentors and share best practice.

Chaplain removed for attack on homosexuality

A Church of Scotland minister has been removed from a chaplaincy role at Glasgow Gaelic School after describing homosexuality as a "disorder" and a "perversion". Donald MacInnes' comments on a Facebook page were prompted by Scottish government moves to introduce same-sex marriage. A Glasgow City Council spokesperson said: "The man is no longer the chaplain at the school and this decision was taken by the headteacher as soon as we received the complaints from parents and reviewed the situation."

Education props up quango salary charts

About a third of 58 Scottish quango bosses earn more than First Minister Alex Salmond - but those dealing with education and children's issues tend to be more modestly paid, research shows. A study by thinktank Reform Scotland shows that the highest salary goes to Scottish Water's chief executive, who earns #163;235,000-#163;240,000, compared with the First Ministerial salary of #163;140,647. By contrast, the head of the Scottish Qualifications Authority earns #163;120,000-#163;125,000, while the leader of Skills Development Scotland takes home #163;110,000-#163;115,000. Those in charge at the Care Inspectorate and Scottish Children's Reporter Administration earn #163;85,000-#163;90,000 each.

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