A teacher employment working group has been set up to decide whether the current workforce planning process is "fit for purpose". Fiona Hyslop, the Education Secretary, said this would include a review of whether there is a mis-match between student numbers and teaching jobs, and the impact of the teacher induction scheme. A survey by the General Teaching Council for Scotland showed that 93 per cent of last year's probationers have found employment, but only a third of the total responded. The group will be chaired by Joe Di Paola, the poacher-turned-gamekeeper who was a leading union official and now heads the local government employers' team in pay negotiations with the unions.
The Labour Party launched its literacy commission at Gorebridge Primary in Midlothian last week, the last public appearance in the education field by Wendy Alexander before she resigned as party leader last Saturday. The commission is to be chaired by Judith Gillespie of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, and includes crime writer Ian Rankin among its members.
There has been a small increase in the number of pupils taking their meals in school, up by 1 per cent to 47 per cent last year. But the appetite was greater in primaries than secondaries where there was a 2 per cent fall. The Government attributed the rise to the popularity of the free school meals trial taking place in five education authorities for P1-3 pupils. Sweets and fizzy drinks will be removed from primary lunches in August; secondaries will follow in the 2009-10 session.
The chairman of the Scottish Qualifications Authority has had his contract extended by four months. The brief re-appointment period of John McCormick, a former teacher who was the BBC's controller in Scotland, is intended to allow time to find a successor for the pound;13,364 part-time post.
The Government is pumping another pound;250,000 into Scotland's four science centres. It is aimed at allowing them to work with primary teachers "to help them inspire young people to become Scotland's scientists of the future". It follows the findings from the Scottish Survey of Achievement in science last month which showed that too few P4-7 pupils were reaching the expected standards. The early years work is also intended to boost take-up of the new Scottish Baccalaureate in science.
The number of pupils leaving school with a Higher or better qualification in a second language last year ranged from 16 per cent in East Renfrewshire to 3 per cent in West Lothian, according to figures in a parliamentary answer.