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A week in education

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Ian Fraser is to accept voluntary severance from his post as director of education and social care in Inverclyde, it has been announced. Mr Fraser, 59, had been suspended by the council's chief executive, ostensibly in a dispute about placing requests. In a thinly-veiled rebuke, the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland stated: "Ian is a highly-valued colleague who was an active member of ADES and we will miss his contribution. There will be many heads and education managers who share this sentiment." Former South Lanarkshire director of education Maggi Allan has been brought in to investigate the handling of placing requests.

Letters, page 20

Courses announced last week will provide teachers with specialist skills in early childhood education. The Government will provide more than Pounds 150,000 to pilot a postgraduate degree at Aberdeen University for 40 teachers and a primary teaching degree with an early years element for 20 undergraduates at Stirling University. The idea is to fulfil the SNP's election pledge to give every pre-school child access to a teacher, but Labour dismissed the move as "too little, too late".

The Scottish Parliament passed the Additional Support for Learning Bill last week, giving parents the right to use placing requests if they want their children to attend a school in another authority. It also establishes rights for such parents to get mediation from their "host" authority, and gives them more access to the Additional Support Needs Tribunal for Scotland. But opposition MSPs argued the bill did not go far enough to strengthen parents' rights in this area, and its provisions were only reinforced because the Government was defeated on 11 votes during the Parliamentary debate.

A survey carried out by KPMG, covering 57 schools in England built under the private finance initiative and 32 rebuilt "conventionally", claims to show that the rate of improvement in educational attainment is 44 per cent faster in the privately-funded schools. Unauthorised absence in PFI schools is also down, while in the other schools it is increasing. The report suggests reasons could be that their design is more conducive to learning and facilities management staff release teachers to concentrate on teaching.

An expansion of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework has been announced with four bodies, including the Scottish Police College and City and Guilds, approved as "credit rating bodies". Now qualifications and programmes can be aligned with the different SCQF levels, leading to wider learning opportunities.

The provision and funding of childcare requires comprehensive examination by the Scottish and UK governments, MSPs said in a report on child poverty last week. The Scottish Parliament's local government and communities committee said collaboration between the governments, and local authorities, was essential if the UK targets to halve child poverty by 2010 and eliminate it by 2020 were to be achieved.

Our report last week on Inverness College should have stated that HMIE "is confident that the college is managing well and improving the quality of its services for learners". Our apologies. However, inspectors did find "important weaknesses in arrangements for access and inclusion, staff disclosure and child protection training".

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