A week in

25th March 2016 at 00:00

The use of “baby talk” with very young children is not harmful, a linguistics expert has told a major event on literacy in the pre-school and early primary years. Dr Barbora Skarabela, of the University of Edinburgh, said the use of words such as “choo-choo” and “wee-wee” was common across cultures. They were easy for children to recognise and provided a foundation for learning more complex words, she told the Bookbug annual conference in Glasgow.

A Scottish island authority is exploring teaching Japanese in its primary schools. Orkney has already started trial projects on Japanese culture and language in its two secondaries, Kirkwall Grammar and Stromness Academy. In a visit to Orkney last week, Hajime Kitaoka, consul general of Japan in Edinburgh, talked up the possibility of a Scottish qualification in Japanese. He also heard about Orkney’s plans to extend Japanese to primaries and start a teacher-training programme.

Tour guides with a difference are working at the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick – P6s from a local school. The Law Primary pupils had to audition for roles and trained with drama-education company Illuminate UK. They will take visiting groups from other schools around the centre, and explain how attitudes to marine conservation have changed since Edwardian times. One pupil, Poppy Wilson, who plays an Edwardian lady, said that the scheme had made her “a lot more confident”.

Children’s mental health from an early age should be the next Scottish government’s key priority, a key group of organisations has said. The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) pointed to research indicating that one in 10 children and young people has a clinically diagnosable mental health problem. Around 75 per cent are believed to be unable to access any treatment. Greater investment in interventions earlier in children’s lives is “vital”, the SCSC said, to prevent “inevitable negative consequences” on education.




A new “Professional Baccalaureate” will be offered to secondary pupils in an attempt to boost their skills for employment. The qualification will reward “high-quality work-based learning”, building on new work-placement awards and Foundation Apprenticeships.

The news comes after TESS revealed that the Scottish government was looking at ways to boost its flagship Baccalaureate – currently available in sciences, languages, expressive arts and social subjects – as uptake declined (The struggle to revive the ‘faltering’ Baccalaureate, 26 February).

A draft pay agreement for further education lecturers was announced on Saturday, after 12 hours of talks ended at 3am. It paves the way for national bargaining in the sector and removes the prospect of industrial action in Scotland’s colleges. Colleges Scotland chief executive Shona Struthers said the draft deal would “start to address harmonisation of terms and conditions for college lecturers”. Charlie Montgomery, EIS-FELA union salaries convener, said it would “set a sound foundation”.

A pocket-sized, codeable computer is being sent to every S1 pupil in Scotland, in the hope of inspiring “a new generation of digital pioneers”. The BBC “micro:bits”, part of the corporation’s Make it Digital scheme, can be turned into a host of devices, including games, smart watches or fitness trackers. Meanwhile, research from the Gadget Show Live has suggested that up to a third of school-aged children teach themselves key digital skills such as coding or design.

Teachers are being offered free training to help them prevent gambling among pupils. The Fast Forward charity holds the first of five sessions across Scotland in Edinburgh on 15 April (bit.ly/PupilGambling). All participants will receive a range of information and resources for how to deal with problem gambling in young people. Another charity, GamCare, has previously said that not enough young people with gambling problems know where to find help.


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