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A week in education

Natalie King, the Aberdeen schoolgirl who was taking the city council to court over bullying she claims she suffered while a pupil at Dyce Academy, has dropped her legal action against the authority. The council said that, while it was disappointed it would be deprived of making its defence public, the decision would save taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds. It would be seeking an award of expenses against Miss King, whose solicitor was the high-profile Cameron Fyfe.

Hugh Henry, the Education Minister, has announced a pound;60 million injection of funding as part of the Scottish Executive's programme of school improvements. He wants pound;40 million to be devolved directly to schools for education resources - everything from books and musical instruments to CD-roms, interactive whiteboards and computers; councils can spend the remaining Pounds 20 million on building improvements, such as staff bases, pupil toilets and playgrounds.

The Scottish Executive has announced that nominations can now be made for the education "Oscars" for 2007. The education awards were launched this week, symbolically, at Juniper Green Primary in Edinburgh, the school of Susan Ward, winner of the 2006 Scottish probationer of the year who went on to pick up the award as the UK's outstanding new teacher.


Orkney Islands Council is joining the public private partnership building programme, with Scottish Executive support for a pound;50 million project.

Kirkwall Grammar is to be given priority.

East Renfrewshire Council has dropped the "non" in non-denominational schools. They are to be known as multi-denominational to reflect their inclusiveness.

Glasgow City Council is to allocate nearly pound;2 million to educational projects with money from its allocation from the Scottish Executive's Childcare Strategy. This includes pound;740,000 to expand provision for two to three-year-olds.

Go to West Dunbartonshire is the advice from the Centre for Policy Studies in a report on its successful reading initiative. Hailing a world first, the report notes that the authority aims to eliminate illiteracy among its pupils by next year, despite having the second highest levels of income deprivation in Scotland. Reading failure is this year at 6 per cent; the equivalent figure for England is 21 per cent.

Many private nurseries are at risk of going under because of spiralling staff costs and high business rates, the Association of Quality Nurseries claims. It wants the Scottish Executive to carry out an assessment of the private nursery care costs and provide funding.

Scottish ministers plan to raise the legal age for buying cigarettes in Scotland to 18. The announcement follows the publication of a report by Laurence Gruer, director of public health science at NHS Health Scotland, which recommends a range of measures to discourage smoking, particularly among the young. Smoking should be barred in school grounds, the report said.

Another tranche of Government money is being thrown at the school run to provide safer routes to school. A Scottish Executive pot of pound;5 million includes cash to help with cycle training for pupils and create secure bike storage in playgrounds.

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