A week in education

Aberdeenshire Council is looking overseas to solve its shortage of teachers and will not insist candidates turn up in person. The council's campaign will target teachers in Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and using internet micro-sites and video-conferencing for initial interviews.

The authority admits it struggles to maintain its full complement of 2,800 teaching staff. It hit the headlines last month when it emerged that a class of second year pupils at Aboyne Academy had been without a full-time science teacher since the start of term.

Primary heads want education authorities to start taking school development planning seriously. In a statement sent to directors of education, the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland said development planning "has been reduced to a tick-box exercise which fails to address genuine needs of the school".

Glasgow says it intends to change its approach to sex education, principally through greater involvement with parents. A new programme, Talk2, is to be trialled in the Bannerman and Lochend cluster of primary and secondary schools, with the aim of extending it to all schools in the city. The move came after a consultation exercise involving 2,700 young people and 1,100 parents found support for greater dialogue between parents, pupils and schools. The survey found that 27 per cent of 13-15-year-olds had already had sexual intercourse.

Chancellor Gordon Brown's pre-Budget statement last week committed the Government to further increases in educational spending, but Scottish ministers may reach different decisions. Capital investment in school, college and university buildings and equipment will increase year-on-year to pound;10.2 billion by 2010-11. He said separate announcements would be made for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The discretionary cash, which is channelled through the local authorities in Scotland, will rise from pound;39,000 this year to pound;50,000 by next April for the typical primary school, and from pound;150,000 to pound;200,000 for secondaries.

The First Minister made a strong defence of public private partnerships to fund the building and refurbishment of schools, in a week which saw his Health Minister embroiled in controversy over hospital PPP projects.

The pound;2.3 billion programme would motivate pupils and create a better educational environment, according to Jack McConnell when he opened the new Williamwood High in East Renfrewshire, one of four schools in the council's pound;63 million second PPP project.

Letters, page 22

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