Victorian naturalist celebrated
A graphic novel about Scottish-born conservationist John Muir - founding father of the national parks of the US - has been launched by the Scottish Book Trust, with 24 free copies going to every secondary school. The book, John Muir, Earth - Planet, Universe, was written by Julie Bertagna and illustrated by William Goldsmith, with help from five schools: Craigmount High, Currie Community High, Dunbar Grammar, Eastwood High and Loretto School. It aims to develop a deeper understanding of the natural environment and the importance of protecting wild places. The book will be distributed in time for 21 April, the anniversary of Muir's birth in 1838. The same date marks the opening of the John Muir Way, a 134-mile trail between Scotland's east and west coasts.
West Lothian teacher removed from register
A geography teacher has been removed from the teaching register after alcohol or drug use left her unfit to work on three occasions at a school for students with special educational needs. Karen Smith was employed at Pinewood School in Blackburn, West Lothian, when, on 8 March 2012, she was under the influence of alcohol and drugs and unable to carry out her duties. Other incidents on 24 June 2012 and 20 February 2013 involving only alcohol also left her unable to do her job. The General Teaching Council for Scotland's fitness-to-teach panel removed Ms Smith from the profession, but decided there was no need for Scottish ministers to consider barring her from working with children or protected adults.
New strategy to boost youth work
A national strategy on youth work has been launched, which aims to strengthen educational partnerships, record youth work's impact and "demonstrate the true value of the sector for the first time". Children and young people minister Aileen Campbell said that more than 500,000 young Scots participated regularly in youth work. Education Scotland strategic director Alan Armstrong said: "It is so important we get this right as the development, learning and experiences that young people gain in youth work situations can have a positive impact on the rest of a person's life and work."
Helpline provides free legal advice for young
A free and confidential 24-hour legal advice service for children and young adults has been launched. The Young Scot LawLine will provide callers aged 11 to 25 with quality-assured help to tackle legal problems. JC Hughes Solicitors will run the service, and staff expect to field calls on welfare rights, online bullying and family and health issues. Lord Justice General Brian Gill said: "So many young people nowadays have legal problems but do not know where to turn for advice. I am delighted to support this admirable initiative." The LawLine number is 0808 801 0801.
Probe into prejudice-based bullying
The Equality and Human Rights Commission in Scotland has commissioned a project exploring prejudice-based bullying and harassment in schools. There are two anonymous surveys, one for secondary students and another for teachers, both closing on 30 April. Researchers are interested in hearing from students how a school speaks about bullying. Teachers are being asked about anti-bullying work and specific incidents. The research is conducted by LGBT Youth Scotland and respectme, the national anti-bullying service. See lgbtyouth.org.uknewsBullyingResearch