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A week in education

The number of children being taught in state-of-the-art classrooms has risen by 35,000 in the past year, Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop announced this week. However, 26 per cent of school buildings are still rated as "poor" and a further 5 per cent as "bad", according to the latest school estate statistics. A year ago, the figures were 31 per cent and 5 per cent respectively. Earlier this month, the Scottish Government announced the creation of a new joint working group with Cosla in response to the Audit Scotland report Improving the School Estate.

There was a 4 per cent increase in the number of referrals to the child protection register in 2007-08, which stood at 12,382. The actual number of registrations was 2,814, a fall of 11 per cent, which amounted to 2,437 individuals - a drop of six per cent. Of those children, 48 per cent were on the register because of physical neglect and 7 per cent because of sexual abuse.

In the latest evaluations of how well children are protected in different local authorities, West Lothian has nudged ahead of North Lanarkshire. The former received one verdict of "excellent", 15 "very good" and two "good". The latter were given nine of "very good", seven "good" and two "satisfactory". Improving the assessment of risk was a key message for the agencies in both areas. West Lothian was praised for its "visionary leadership", while North Lanarkshire won plaudits for effective support programmes in schools and the community to keep children safe.

The Scottish Government has begun a consultation on whether employees should be given the right to request time off for training. The move stems from the Employment Rights Act, a Westminster piece of legislation, which gives staff such a right but does not force employers to oblige. But Fiona Hyslop, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, commented: "The introduction of a right to request time off to train would further encourage a lifelong learning culture in the workplace, and empower employees to have a serious dialogue with their employer about how best to meet their skills needs, benefiting them and the business."

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