News at a glance

2nd October 2015 at 01:00

Suspended union returns to CfE board

The teaching union suspended from the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) management board in 2010 after refusing to lift threats of industrial action has returned to the body. The Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) was removed from the board by then education secretary Michael Russell after pressing ahead with “work to contract” action over the implementation of the new curriculum. SSTA representatives attended their first CfE management board meeting last week after the union’s return was agreed by education secretary Angela Constance and new SSTA general secretary Seamus Searson. SSTA president Euan Duncan said: “It is only right that the SSTA resumes its position on the management board so as to positively influence the direction CfE will take. The association will be particularly interested to see what impact the ideas for standardised assessment contained in the National Improvement Framework may have.”

School life is unaffordable for families, report finds

A report based on research in Glasgow has calculated the cost of the school day. The Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, which worked on the report with Glasgow City Council, finds that many families struggle to pay for routine aspects of school life, such as uniform, transport, meals, trips, charity fundraising days and home computers. Recommendations for schools include removing charges for all activities if possible, setting up “discreet, pre-emptive systems for providing financial assistance” and explicitly discussing poverty with children in order to remove stigma. Read the report at cpag.org.uk/Scotland

Sturgeon pledges to protect free meals

The rights of disadvantaged children to free school meals, early learning and childcare will be protected, despite changes to welfare policy by the UK government, first minister Nicola Sturgeon has said. Proposed amendments to working tax credits and child tax credits would result in about 22,000 Scottish pupils aged 3-15 losing their entitlement to free school meals, according to the Scottish government. Ms Sturgeon has promised to preserve the entitlements of thousands of children from lower-income households by changing regulations in Scotland to ensure that they remain eligible.

MSPs highlight heavy toll of college mergers and call for further investigation

The merger of Scotland’s colleges has been difficult for the sector and more information is required before it can be judged a success, MSPs have found. A report by the Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit Committee (bit.ly/Colleges2015) raises concerns about the validity of claims about “efficiency savings”, the impact on staff and students, the accountability of “arm’s-length foundations” and the handling of severance payments. North Glasgow College and Coatbridge College displayed “significant shortcomings” in severance arrangements, the report adds.

Self-evaluation guide aims to boost digital learning

The fourth edition of How Good is Our School? was launched at the Scottish Learning Festival last week (bit.ly/HGIOS4). The guide, which schools have used for self-evaluation since 1996, helps staff to establish what works well for pupils and what could be done better. Teachers on Twitter described the new edition as “clear and concise” with “some good shifts in emphasis”, welcoming the focus on digital learning and the role played by pupils’ families.

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