News at a glance

8th May 2015 at 01:00

Charity backs 16-17s right to vote

The charity Children in Scotland has called for voting rights for 16- and 17-year-olds to be extended to UK elections. Younger voters were given the right to vote in last September's Scottish independence referendum, but were unable to do so in yesterday's general election. The Scottish Parliament's Devolution (Further Powers) Committee has been taking evidence on the issue, after a bill was launched in April that would lower the voting age for Holyrood and local government elections. Children in Scotland chief executive Jackie Brock said: "It is vital that 16- and 17-year-olds be allowed to participate directly in the democratic process."

Call for Sweden to fix faltering schools policy

A review of Sweden's troubled schools system, co-authored by Scotland's former senior chief inspector, Graham Donaldson (pictured), has called for sweeping changes, including a reduction in parental choice, a boost to teacher salaries and moves to improve the status of the profession. Since the 1990s, Sweden has allowed privately run schools to compete with public schools for government funds. The policy partly inspired the introduction of free schools in England. However, between 2000 and 2012, no other country in the Pisa (Programme for International Student Assessment) survey suffered a steeper decline in reading, maths and science. Read the report at bit.lyOECDsweden

Schools urged to tap Access to Education funding

The second round of the Scottish government's pound;1.5 million Access to Education Fund has opened, offering grants of up to pound;5,000 to help schools improve the attainment of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. Education Scotland is managing the application process, which closes on 19 June, and is holding three events this month to assist schools with their submissions. The events take place in Glasgow (15 May), Edinburgh (18 May) and Elgin (20 May). Only one application can be submitted by an individual school or cluster. Decisions will be made by the end of September. Find out more at bit.lyAccessEduFund

North Pole expeditions aim to broaden horizons

Scottish schools are sending S3-4 pupils to the North Pole as part of an ambitious scheme designed to broaden their horizons. Pupils from two North Lanarkshire schools - St Aidan's High and Coltness High - were the first to make the epic journey with the Polar Academy last month, and another trip with young people from Edinburgh is planned for 2016. The programme is run by explorer Craig Mathieson, and is aimed at "those less visible young people who frequently underachieve and often fail to reach their potential". Pupils from five schools in the capital will undergo intensive training to enable them to trek up to six miles a day carrying their equipment.

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