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A week in education

There were starkly mixed fortunes for two schools this week as inspectorate reports landed on their desks. Braidbar Primary in Giffnock, East Renfrewshire, was found to be high-performing in every aspect over which staff had control : it received five excellent scores, nine very good grades and one good (for accommodation). The leadership of the head, depute and principal teacher came in for unusually strong praise.

At the other end of the spectrum, St Albert's Primary in Pollokshields, Glasgow, has received one of the worst HMIE reports: only two aspects were rated as good, eight adequate, three weak and two unsatisfactory (for the school's leadership). The head was said to have lost the confidence of the staff whose morale was low, despite education authority support "over a number of years" to improve the leadership. The school had no capacity to improve without outside help.

The Scottish Government this week published its Graduate Endowment Bill, which aims to abolish the one-off fee introduced by the previous executive for students completing their higher education. It has raised around pound;17 million a year as an investment in student support. But SNP ministers believe it is inefficient as well as unfair, with taxpayers losing around a third of all the fee income collected. If it gets through parliament, the bill will scrap the fee for some 50,000 students, including those who have just graduated and who have started new courses.

The six-month experiment offering free school meals to pupils in P1-3 in five local authorities began on Monday. Aimed at encouraging pupils to eat and to eat healthily, it is backed by pound;5 million from the Scottish Government. Ministers say it will cost around pound;20 million to extend it nationally, but only for those who currently take meals in the infant years rather than all pupils. The scheme has been criticised for its limited run which, it is claimed, is not enough time to gauge its impact.

Council officials in the Western Isles say they are none the wiser, after meeting the Education Secretary, how she thinks the authority can deliver A Curriculum for Excellence in its five two-year secondary schools. Fiona Hyslop became embroiled in a spat with the council after criticising its plans to close these village schools. They were seen to be a perfect fit with the 5-14 curriculum, but not with the new reforms which are organised around the S1-S3 and S4-S6 stages.

Claire Martin, a fifth year pupil at Holyrood Secondary in Glasgow, became the first to address MSPs in their parliamentary "time for reflection" on Wednesday. She talked about third world issues and her involvement with a group of 22 pupils from her school who will travel to Malawi next June to help build two classrooms.

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