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This week

Special needs pupils miss out

The Scottish Government's guarantee of a learning or training opportunity to all 16 to 19-year-olds could mean that students with learning disabilities - many of whom do not leave school until their 19th birthday - could miss out, according to Enable Scotland. The charity's executive director, Mike Holmes, warned that if college places for students with learning disabilities were cut, additional pressure would be placed on local authority social work departments, or more likely, parents and informal carers.

Big Lottery Fund to help needy

The first grants of 2012 from the Big Lottery Fund will offer education opportunities to disabled people, young care-leavers and people affected by homelessness in the west of Scotland. Nearly pound;4 million goes to eight organisations, including the Marie Trust, Momentum Scotland, Youthworx (run by South Lanarkshire Council) and John Wheatley College's Transition project.

Primary head made an OBE

Anne McFadden, head of St Mirin's Primary in Cathcart, Glasgow, was made an OBE in the New Year's Honours list. Named headteacher of the year in the 2010 Scottish Education Awards, she is due to retire this year. Her school received an outstanding HMIE report in 2009 when inspectors praised her "outstanding leadership".

Welcome cash boost for UHI

More than pound;5.7 million of European Structural Funds will go towards the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) specifically to aid economic recovery in the area. The bulk of the funding, pound;5.6m, will go to the Investing in Recovery project, sponsored by UHI, to accommodate the higher-than-anticipated demand for places up to 2013. A further pound;100,000 will allow Inverness College to meet local demand from young people for college places and pound;38,748 goes to Lews Castle College to improve skill levels locally.

SDS re-opens programme

Skills Development Scotland re-opened its voluntary severance and early retirement programme. Shadow youth employment minister Kezia Dugdale questioned how "sacking the very staff charged with tackling youth unemployment" could help unemployed young people. But an SDS spokeswoman said that considering applications from staff wanting to leave or take early retirement, where compatible with SDS's operating plan, enabled the organisation to "focus investment where it will create most impact and meet our targets within budget".

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