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A Week in Education

SNP-led West Dunbartonshire Council, having claimed a first in eradicating illiteracy among pupils, now boasts another - the first to start free school meals for P1-3 pupils a year ahead of the Government's August 2010 target date. It will benefit 2,780 children. The council is also extending the number of breakfast clubs, with one planned for every school.

George Watson's College in Edinburgh has decided to introduce the International Baccalaureate exam as an alternative for S5 and S6 pupils from August 2011. Gareth Edwards, the principal, stressed that the school remained "firmly committed" to Scottish qualifications.

In the latest petition by pupils to improve school accommodation, youngsters at Kelso High have called on Scottish Borders Council to carry out urgent work on their school. Education officials have submitted plans to add a two-storey extension, which would house two additional classrooms. The planning application is likely to be discussed next month by councillors.

A special school in Dumfries with only one pupil and where the headteacher is the only member of staff has been referred by HMIE to the registrar of independent schools to see if further conditions should be applied to its continuation. Greyfriars School had not complied with previous conditions imposed by the registrar to extend the school week and broaden the curriculum.

There has been a 7.8 per cent rise in the numbers applying for undergraduate places in UK universities next session. But Scotland's increase is only 5.1 per cent, second lowest of the home countries. While applications from the under-20s increased by 3.8 per cent in Scotland, there was a marked increase of 12.5 per cent from the over-25s, a pattern that is repeated across the UK.

A survey by the Children's Society reveals that the recession is making young people in Britain more anxious. Almost half (46 per cent) of 11 to 13 year-olds say their parents are worried, while the society says one of the most "alarming" findings is that one in four (22 per cent) of 17 to 19 year-olds say they cannot find a job which could lead to more of them ending up not being in education, employment or training.

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