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This Week

One role to replace four

- Aberdeenshire Council is to create a single role of pupil support assistant, replacing the four posts of classroom assistant, children's supervisor, lunchtime auxiliary and support for learning auxiliary. All 833 full-time equivalent posts will be guaranteed employment until June 2012, after which 183 posts will go. Aberdeenshire EIS secretary Pat Flanagan is "broadly supportive" of merging posts in principle, but said the "real story" was a 22 per cent reduction in staffing and a "significant impact" on support for pupils.

Exclusions linked to imprisonment

- Fewer youngsters would end up in prison if school exclusions were abolished, the chief inspector of prisons has said. In his annual report on Scotland's prisons, Brigadier Hugh Monro said many young offenders had been excluded from school, with some hardly attending school from the age of 13. It was during that period of exclusion that many were exposed to drugs and violence.

Non-profit distribution

- Infrastructure and Capital Investment Secretary Alex Neil (pictured right) told senior business leaders this week that the Scottish Futures Trust would take forward pound;2.6 billion of projects using "non-profit distribution", the Government's preferred financing model to replace the private finance initiative. Projects would include improvements to the M8, the Balmedie to Tipperty dual-carriageway project north of Aberdeen and the new hospital for sick children in Edinburgh.

SSTA to hold strike ballot

- The SSTA will ballot its members on strike action if the UK Government decides to take forward suggested changes to pensions, the union's council has agreed. General secretary Ann Ballinger said the SSTA could not accept it was in the interest of the education service if teachers were forced to work in a high-stress occupation significantly beyond the age at which they planned to retire.

Tuition fees for UK students

- UHI, Stirling, Queen Margaret and Napier universities have set their tuition fee levels for rest of UK students at pound;22,500, pound;27,000, pound;27,000 and pound;26,000, respectively. While the Government said this put the estimated average annual fee at pound;6,841, less than the English average of pound;8,509, NUS Scotland said the uneven distribution of rest-of-UK students across Scottish institutions meant the typical four-year degree cost an average of pound;30,628, compared to an English three-year degree at pound;25,179.

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