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A Week in Education

Last week's report in The TESS on unemployed teachers sparked a row between Labour and the SNP. The revelation that the figure had risen by 50 per cent in the past year led Rhona Brankin, Labour's education spokesperson, to call for education spending to be ring-fenced to protect schools from "one of the worst education budgets". But SNP MSP Christina McKelvie, a member of the parliament's education committee, said teachers who were unemployed now had begun their training under the previous Labour government and that Ms Brankin had drawn attention "to the failure of her own party to plan adequately for future teacher numbers".

The Government has bowed to pressure from heads and unions to delay the introduction of the new curriculum and exams by a year. Fiona Hyslop, the Education Secretary, announced last week that all schools would be expected to implement A Curriculum for Excellence from August 2010 to enable the revised qualifications system to be in place in 2014. Her decision was widely welcomed.

Primary teachers of the future will be more confident in dealing with health and well-being if an Aberdeen University course takes off. A joint BSc honours degree in applied sports science and education will combine "to produce science graduates who are also enthusiastic primary teachers", says Colin McCaig, head of the university's school of medical sciences. It will allow students to take up the education option in the first or third year, which will eliminate the need for a postgraduate year if they want to teach.

Teachers and families in Shetland are being asked to take part in another effort to find a consensus on the future pattern of the council's education system. It is being presented as an islands-wide search for a "blueprint" to focus on "transition points" between nursery, primary, secondary and post-school education. The move follows three failed attempts to close single-teacher primaries in rural areas in response to falling rolls, and to save money. The consultation ends on December 19.

The ABC of alcohol should be taught to pupils as young as five, according to a master blender in the whisky industry. Richard Paterson, who has had a 30-year career with Whyte and Mackay, believes the teenage years may be too late to spell out the dangers of alcohol misuse. Speaking last week at the launch of his book, Goodness Nose, he called for new guidelines on alcohol for primary schools. Alcohol Focus Scotland says the number of 13 year olds who drink alcohol has doubled since 1990 - "sobering", as Mr Paterson described it.

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