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A Week in Education

Scotland's second largest teachers' union, the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association, has opened its ballot for a successor to former general secretary David Eaglesham, who took early retirement last year. George Sturrock, a past president and depute head of Menzieshill High in Dundee, has been announced as the association's "preferred candidate". The other contender is Ann Ballinger, the current president.

East Renfrewshire Council has invited enquiries about voluntary redundancy as it tries to cut its 4,750 staff by up to 200 over the next two years. The offer does not extend to school-based teachers, but teachers in office jobs and education support staff can apply. The council will also consider requests from staff who want to cut their hours, but they will have to satisfy "strict business case criteria".

Improved performance in science is the latest claim to be made for the benefits of early learning. According to a review of science education in continental countries, published in the latest issue of Children in Europe, the very youngest children "can and should be encouraged to engage in scientific exploration, discovery and fun". Teresa Ogrodzinska of the Comenius Foundation in Poland commented: "Children are born discoverers: they want to make sense of the world."

Lecturers at Ayr College are taking strike action over pay. The staff, who are members of the Educational Institute of Scotland, have rejected a two-year pay offer, which the union claims amounts to a salary cut that does not "reflect current living costs and economic realities".

A Dundee secondary teacher was struck off the teaching register last week for having sex with a 17 year old boy at Braeview Academy where she worked. Angela Dunning, aged 31, strenuously denied the allegation, as did the pupil involved. But, after an eight-hour hearing held in private, the General Teaching Council for Scotland disciplinary panel found her guilty of "disgraceful and dishonourable" conduct. Ms Dunning has said she will appeal.

Teenagers with language impairments are less likely to use home computers for school work than other adolescents, according to researchers at Strathclyde and Manchester universities. The nationwide study, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, found that one third of a sample of 17-year-olds with "specific language impairment" did not use educational software in a given week, compared to only 8 per cent of typical teens. Those with the impairment found that computer-related work was too technical, involved too much text and was difficult to understand. A full report on the study is published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology.

The Outward Bound Trust's Loch Eil centre, near Fort William, is the first in its field in the UK to be awarded a quality certificate designed to help teachers identify suitable outdoor education opportunities for their pupils. The Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge for Adventurous Activities recognises "the centre's proficiency in delivering education in a risk-controlled outdoor environment".

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