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A week in education

The private-school sector would be the eighth-largest local authority by number of pupils and is the fourth-largest employer of teachers in Scotland. The annual census of the 105 independent schools, for September 2008, showed they had 30,725 pupils and 3,428 teachers. Although there was a small decrease in numbers, the falling pupil population overall meant the figure represented a slight increase of 0.03 per cent. The proportion of teachers has also risen, so there is a ratio of 13 pupils to one primary teacher and 8.3 pupils per secondary teacher (the respective figures in the state sector are 16:1 in state primaries and 11.8:1 in secondaries). Average primary class sizes range from 16.6 in P1 to 20.2 in P7.

The 20 pupils at Melvich Primary in north east Sutherland have taken matters into their own hands to find a new headteacher. They have posted a two-minute video on YouTube, after Highland Council twice advertised unsuccessfully for someone to fill the post. They plead: "We're so cool. We're Melvich School, and we need a new headteacher." By mid-week, they had received more than 3,000 hits.

Two teachers were struck from the register last week, following their conviction on sex charges. A disciplinary hearing at the General Teaching Council for Scotland ordered the names of Peter Orr, 31, a former biology teacher at the private Lomond School, Helensburgh, and Andrew Melville, 48, who was a primary head in East Lothian, to be removed from the register.

Dundee is to host the 2011 World Schools Debating Championship. About 350 teenagers, teachers and other adults from more than 35 countries will arrive for the contest, raking in an expected Pounds 1 million for the economy during the 11 days the event will run in August. Scotland won the tournament in 2007.

A new "framework for inclusion", aimed at student teachers but applicable to all, was published this week by the Scottish Teacher Education Committee. As reported in The TESS on February 6, it means all teachers in training will be expected to know about learning difficulties and barriers to learning arising out of factors such as gender, race, religion and sexual orientation. The initiative followed energetic lobbying of ministers by Sir Jackie Stewart, whose dyslexia went undiagnosed at school. Full details next week.

One of Scotland's smallest councils has seen nearly Pounds 40,000 paid out to school staff for injuries at work over the past five years. Successful compensation claims in Midlothian peaked at Pounds 17,000 for a teacher who suffered hearing loss; others included Pounds 4,491 for a janitor after a piano fell on his foot and a teacher who got Pounds 278 after falling over a bin. A further six staff are awaiting the outcomes of claims which include a chemical explosion, falling on ice and using a circular saw.

Under-18s with mental health problems will have access to another Pounds 4 million worth of support, Public Health Minister Shona Robison has announced. Half the cash will come from the Government and half from health boards, and it will be used to help youngsters affected by schizophrenia, depression and eating disorders. It will include schooling facilities in a new specialist unit at Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow.

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