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A Week in Education

The Government has today issued its delayed consultation paper on class sizes. It proposes to introduce regulations which will set a statutory limit of 25 pupils in P1, but it will be too late for youngsters starting school in August. Although the Government is still sticking to its longer-term aim of reducing P1-3 classes to 18, it had to act because the only legal restriction on P1 classes is 30. Local authorities were therefore unable to turn down placing requests to comply with smaller class numbers. The consultation will run for 12 weeks.

The Dundee teacher who reached an out-of-court settlement with the city council after being sacked for assaulting two abusive pupils received a second piece of good news last week. Mike Barile has had his conviction effectively overturned by the Court of Justiciary Appeal in Edinburgh. Last November, judges refused to overturn the original verdict, but they did admonish him. This has now been downgraded to an absolute discharge, which means his conviction does not need to be declared other than in exceptional circumstances.

The management reorganisation of Aberdeen City Council is now almost complete. The former structure has been swept away, which the council says will yield salary savings of almost pound;650,000 a year. Reporting to education director Annette Bruton will be David Leng, head of schools, and Susan Devlin, head of children's services. The post of head of educational development, policy and performance is being re-advertised.

Labour's campaign against the Government's "broken promises" continues, as it charges the SNP with breaking its manifesto pledge to double the number of school nurses. Figures provided by health boards under Freedom of Information show that the total number of nurses rose from 308 in 2007 to just 330 in 2009. But the Government says official figures published by independent statisticians show the real figure for 2009 to be 257, an increase from 221 in 2007.

Child protection services in East Ayrshire are "very good" in only two respects, inspectors report. This applies to the way children are listened to and respected, and kept safe. The other four indicators rate services as "good" in two areas and "satisfactory" in two. The inspection found that risk and needs assessments were "too variable".

Two colleges are the only educational institutions in Scotland to have made it onto this year's Sunday Times list of the 75 best places to work in the public sector - Borders (23rd) and Jewel and Esk (43rd). Positive feelings about their colleagues put Borders among the top five on that yardstick; Jewel and Esk staff say they rarely have problems with disruptive individuals, which places them in the top 10.

A "family nurse partnership" is to be tested in the NHS Lothian area to support teenage mums, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has announced. The programme aims to benefit 145 women over three years at a cost of pound;1.6 million. Marilyne MacLaren, convener of education, children and families in Edinburgh, said they hoped "to break the cycle of teenage pregnancies and the creation of children at risk" before the youngsters go to school when it is too late.

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