News at a glance

27th March 2015 at 00:00

New bill demands councils combat attainment gap

The Scottish government has proposed legislation that places a statutory duty on councils to narrow the attainment gap between children from disadvantaged backgrounds and their more affluent peers. The Education (Scotland) Bill, which was launched this week, also extends the rights of children with additional support needs, and places a duty on councils to assess the need for Gaelic primary education if it is requested. The bill further requires all staff in independent and grant-aided schools to be registered with the General Teaching Council for Scotland, seeks to improve procedures for complaints about schools and education authorities, and requires the creation of local "chief education officer" posts. John Fyffe, president of education directors' body ADES, said that chief education officers would play a "key role" in helping poorer pupils. Douglas Chapman, education spokesman for local authorities body Cosla, said that some aspects of the bill were positive but queried the practicality of delivering more Gaelic education and the need for chief education officers. Meanwhile, education secretary Angela Constance announced an extra pound;1 million for schools to buy textbooks and other resources as teachers adapt to new qualifications, a move that was welcomed by the EIS teaching union.

Inverclyde schools pilot app to boost mental health

A new app and educational programme, thought to be unique in Scotland, has been designed to help pupils manage mental health problems. SafeSpot, which was launched at St Stephen's High School in Port Glasgow, enables young people to access coping strategies on their smartphones and uses social media to increase awareness of mental health issues. NHS and University of Glasgow staff worked on the app, which has gone on trial in Inverclyde schools. Developer Dr Fiona Mitchell, a specialist registrar in child and adolescent psychiatry, said SafeSpot allowed pupils "to engage more with their academic and social lives during a vital part of their development".

Only 4 per cent of schools not meeting PE target

An evaluation of SportScotland and Education Scotland schemes has found that the number of primary and secondary schools meeting the national two-hour or two-period target for PE increased from 89 per cent in 2013 to 96 per cent in 2014. Some 70 per cent of respondents said the schemes were having a positive impact on their schools. Graeme Logan, Education Scotland's strategic director for school years, said the research by the University of Glasgow's Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change also showed that challenges remained.

Interim leaders appointed at Moray College UHI

Moray College UHI has made interim management arrangements after its principal, Frank Hughes, was removed from the post earlier this month. The two assistant principals, Anne Lindsay and Tom McGarry, are taking on extra duties as acting principal and acting deputy principal, respectively. Three directors have become acting associate principals. Jana Hutt, chair of the management board, said this would "ensure continuity of college business and minimise disruption to our staff and students". She thanked staff for their support during "what has been a difficult time for everyone involved".

Sensory impairment inquiry calls for evidence

The Scottish Parliament's Education and Culture Committee is holding a short inquiry into how attainment levels of pupils with hearing and visual impairments can be improved. The closing date for submissions is 29 April. For more information, visit bit.lySensoryImpairmentInquiry

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