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A week in education

An unusually upbeat message on pupil discipline has emerged from Fife where schools say they are having fewer problems, according to the latest survey carried out by the council. The number of staff who reported indiscipline to be more of an issue than it was a year ago has fallen, from 50 per cent of secondary teachers in the last survey in 2005 to 41 per cent and from 29 per cent of primary teachers to 28 per cent.

The steps which Fife schools are taking to deal with problems also appear to be gaining the confidence of staff: 65 per cent in the secondary sector say strategies are effective, compared with 57 per cent in 2005. These are "very welcome findings", according to a report by Bryan Kirkaldy, senior manager in education and children's services.

School pupils' interest in economics is waning, a seminar at the Scottish Parliament heard on Monday. The subject has suffered from "a significant and sustained decline" in the numbers studying it at colleges and universities over the past 10 years. There has also been a steady drop in the number of pupils taking Higher economics.

One of the Government's key advisers south of the border has said that reading tests should be given to every pupil entering secondary school. Sir Cyril Taylor, who heads the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, lauded a "phenomenon" he had seen in Miami and in some SSAT schools in England which use an accelerated reader program from Renaissance Learning.

Regulations allowing students from asylum seeking families the same rights of access to further and higher education as Scottish students came into force last week. The move was announced in July and applies to asylum children who have spent at least three years in Scottish schools.

One of Scotland's best-known independent schools has broken the mould by providing a separate boarding house for final year students. Fettes College says the new living arrangements, which accommodate males and females in separate wings, are modelled on university halls of residence and are intended to smooth the path between school and university.

On the further education front, two colleges have announced a change of principal and a change of name. Matt Mochar's successor at Clydebank College from January is Gordon Paterson, the deputy principal. And the EdinburghDalkeith-based Jewel and Esk Valley College is to be known as Jewel and Esk College.

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