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A Week in Education

Business wants the SNP Government to start building or renewing schools. In a call for action over the controversial Scottish Futures Trust, which is intended to replace public private partnerships, CBI Scotland said it should be given the freedom to fund public infrastructure as it saw fit. The Government opposes the PPP approach, delaying the operation of the trust, but the employers' organisation says that "too little credit is given to PPP in delivering the (schools') programme and the value of the committed maintenance over 30 years".

Another education authority is to explore the possibility of extending joint management, in which one head will run two primary schools. Fife already has four primaries in such an arrangement and the council's education committee agreed last week to take it further. A survey of parent councils, headteachers and unions found 65 per cent in favour of a move which is intended to free heads from teaching commitments. But Ronnie Smith, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, opposed the idea at his union's conference last week (p6), suggesting it would "make matters worse as headteacher responsibilities would be doubled or even trebled".

Children are now better protected in the Midlothian Council area, inspectors have concluded. A follow-through report on the system, which was heavily criticised two years ago and which led to the resignations of the authority's social work convener and director, said the new arrangements were "positive and effective".

University education departments in England have warned that the Westminster Government is plotting to kill off undergraduate teacher training, which would see B.Ed degrees disappear. They have been criticised as expensive and less likely than postgraduate courses to attract the brightest candidates. In Scotland, no such moves are thought to be afoot.

The "modest" amendments by the Government to the special needs legislation are "adequate but not sufficient", says Children in Scotland. As stage one of the Additional Support for Learning Bill took place at Holyrood this week, the agency said it would do little to end the "postcode lottery" in ASL services without amendment. It wants a legal requirement on education authorities to inform parents of their rights, accusing councils of "passivity or resistance".

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