A week in education

The former leader of Scotland's secondary heads will slug it out with the SNP to win the Glenrothes by-election. Lindsay Roy, a past president of the then Headteachers' Association of Scotland, was selected as Labour's candidate on Monday night. He will be defending a 10,664 majority against the SNP, whose candidate is Peter Grant, leader of the administration on Fife Council. Mr Roy was the respected and long-serving head of Inverkeithing High until last year when he took over at Kirkcaldy High, Prime Minister Gordon Brown's old school, following a highly- critical HMIE report.

Scotland played host last week to educationists from Australia and Denmark. The visits were prompted by the review of Scottish schools, published last December by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Victoria, the home state of Professor Richard Teese, who was the rapporteur for the OECD team, is keen to check out his conclusion that Scotland is a "well-schooled nation". Denmark is further along the reform route, having undertaken changes to its education system in response to an OECD study four years ago. The report on Scottish schools praised the quality of their work but said they fell short on ensuring equity for pupils.

A "flexible learning initiative" piloted for the past year in North Lanarkshire (TESS January 25), which is aimed at improving the educational lot of children in care, is claiming a remarkable turnaround in their fortunes. With a previous record of 72 per cent truanting for two-thirds of the time, two-thirds of the 47 pupils who took part attended for between 80 and 90 per cent of the time. Just four failed to end up in education and training or work, and they are receiving further support. The young people, mostly in their fourth year in secondary, were each given a coach who helped with a personalised package of support. This includes extra help with Standard grade English and maths, the chance to go to college, work training and outward-bound activities, and counselling.

The annual recruitment drive to persuade adults to become members of children's panels was launched this week. Actress Daniela Nardini will back the move in a national radio campaign, which aims to attract 550 people aged over 18.


A plan by Falkirk Council to introduce a four-and-a-half-day asymmetric week - with a half-day on Fridays - has been defeated by parental opposition. A consultation found that parents were concerned that the plan would disrupt domestic childcare arrangements. However, the council argued that the new timetable pattern would help raise attainment. Aberdeenshire Council is currently consulting on a similar change to the school week.

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