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A week in education

Disadvantage continues to mark the card of Scottish pupils, the post-appeal exam figures for 2007-08 confirmed this week. Average tariffs for S4 pupils, under which they accumulate points as they move up from Access to Advanced Higher courses, show those in the most deprived areas scored 121, compared with 227 in the least deprived; pupils in large urban areas had 168 points, while those in remote areas had 194; children looked after away from home scored 77, compared with 176 for those not looked after; and pupils with special needs had 85 points against 179 for those with none.

The education inspectorate has been asked to accelerate its report on child protection in Dundee, following the death of Brandon Muir; his mother's boyfriend was convicted last week of culpable homicide. Adam Ingram, the Minister for Children and Early Years, said he wants to see the report from HMIE, which is leading the joint inspection, in June. He will decide whether new measures are necessary to improve child protection. A vulnerable person's system (VPS) was launched this week to enable agencies to share information more quickly on those at risk.

Ring-fencing of council budgets, which protected many areas of education spending and came to an end with the concordat between local and central government, will not to be revived. Iain Gray, the Scottish Labour leader, told the annual conference of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, that it was not the answer. But, he added, there had to be a system which gave councils flexibility on spending but ensured they implemented national priorities.

An independent review of the Scottish Government's work with Malawi has found it is making a positive impact. It includes Mary's Meals, which delivers free meals to a quarter of a million children, with the help of Pounds 240,841 from the Government over the past three years which is being expanded to Pounds 400,000 over the next three years. The initiative has helped the country achieve universal primary education.

A Labour government would fund councils to give children under 16 free access to swimming pools all year round. The pledge came from Shadow Health Secretary Cathy Jamieson at Labour's annual Scottish conference at the weekend.

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