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A week in education

The reach of Scottish education has extended further in the past month with the news that a former senior member of HMIE has been appointed to head the inspectorate in Wales. Bill Maxwell is to be the new chief inspector for education and training (Estyn) in the principality. Dr Maxwell, who was on secondment to the Scottish Government as head of information and analytical services since January 2006, will take up his post on February 1, 2008 when Susan Lewis, now chief inspector, retires.

The benchmark figure for the number of pupils getting three or more Higher passes has remained at 22 per cent, the same as last year. It has barely shifted in a decade: it was 20 per cent in 1996. This year's results, published on the Scottish Schools Online website, range from the top performing state school, Jordanhill, which recorded 69 per cent with three-plus Highers, to Craigroyston Community, Edinburgh, with zero. The local authority table remains the same since records began, with 41 per cent of East Renfrewshire pupils gaining three or more Highers compared to 14 per cent in Glasgow.

The youngest holder of the equivalent to a degree in Scotland is a 17- year-old further education college student from Alloa who was home educated by his parents. Will Blake (pictured), who attended Forth Valley College last session, achieved a Higher National Diploma in engineering electronics.

"The quietest teaching job in Britain" was how Jeremy Vine's programme on BBC Radio 2 this week described the post of primary headteacher on the Shetland island of Foula. The council is advertising the pound;44,000-a-year job teaching three children 20 miles to the west of the Shetland mainland. James Cuthbert, of the council's education services, said: "We want someone who has vision and the usual demanding specification for any Shetland headteacher."

The new chancellor of Stirling University is the BBC journalist and broadcaster James Naughtie. He will succeed Dame Diana Rigg next July. The presenter of Today on BBC Radio 4, who was a political correspondent on The Scotsman and The Guardian, said: "The community of Scottish universities means a great deal to me."

Tommy MacKay, the educational psychologist in the news for his work in eradicating illiteracy from primary schools in West Dunbartonshire, has been honoured by the British Psychological Society. His work for the council began in 1997 when 20 per cent of school leavers were described as functionally illiterate; by June 2007, this had been reduced to three pupils.

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