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A week in education

Scotland's independent schools continue to perform strongly in national exams, albeit their key results have remained static over the past six years. The proportion of passes for S5 pupils sitting their Highers this year was 90 per cent, the same as in 2003; of those, 49 per cent gained A awards compared with 48 per cent in 2003. In S6, 88 per cent got A-C passes at Advanced Higher, against 87 per cent in 2003; the proportion gaining A awards was 38 per cent, as in 2003. The Higher pass rate for pupils at state and private schools this year was 73.4 per cent; the proportion of A awards was 23.5 per cent.

Parents are to be offered lessons on how A Curriculum for Excellence is to benefit their children. A package for parent councils, including a DVD with an address by Fiona Hyslop, the Education Secretary, was unveiled this week. At a time when there is no agreement on how parents should be represented and consulted, the material includes a survey of parent councils on how parents want their views heard at national level.

Teachers are urged to find out more about the cervical cancer campaign which will target secondary girls from Monday. Learning and Teaching Scotland has a section on its website with information on the national immunisation programme to help protect girls against the human papilloma virus, the main cause of cervical cancer. The programme is intended to be part of schools' health and well-being lessons.

The new Dundee director of education in succession to Anne Wilson is Jim Collins, a former secondary head. He has been the city council's head of secondary education for two years and was head of support for learning for six years. Before joining the directorate in 2000, he was head of Monifieth High, Angus.

A scholarship scheme has been set up by Strathclyde University to support teachers' continuing professional development. They will be eligible for grants of Pounds 220 towards the cost of tuition fees, a programme in which the university's faculty of education is investing pound;200,000.

A campaign is being launched to highlight the importance of looking after pupils' backs. The Scottish Chiropractic Association is urging the adoption of a spinal care programme which would fit in with the health- promoting schools agenda. It has warned about the risks of carrying heavy school bags and of sitting at desks and computer tables which can damage pupils' posture.

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