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A week in education

College students who found their path to university blocked, as first reported in The TESS on July 2, have been thrown a last-minute lifeline by the Scottish Funding Council. It has reached agreement with four universities - Robert Gordon, Glasgow Caledonian, Edinburgh Napier and Queen Margaret - to allow them to take in additional students without facing financial penalties. Around 300 students on Higher National programmes were prevented from continuing on to degree courses as they had expected, because of the soaring demand for university places. The National Union of Students in Scotland welcomed the announcement, but said a permanent solution had still to be found instead of a "last-minute reprieve".

Around a quarter of students who sat this year's exams have signed up for MySQA, the online service operated by the Scottish Qualifications Authority which allows them to receive their exam results via text and email on August 4, a day earlier than everybody else. Of the 41,000 who registered, 32,000 have activated their accounts and the SQA is urging the others to do so by the deadline of July 23.

The new head of education at East Lothian Council has been chosen from the top ranks of the financial sector. Richard Jennings, a senior public service improvement manager with KPMG, has credentials in working on major "change programmes" with local authorities, a background that East Lothian found attractive as it seeks to switch educational direction and give its schools more autonomy. Mr Jennings succeeds Maureen Jobson in August.

The Labour Party has returned to the fray to harry the SNP Government over its failure to implement its election pledge to ensure all pupils receive two hours of physical education a week. Bill Butler, the new Shadow Minister for Sport, obtained figures under Freedom of Information legislation, revealing that only 35 per cent of primaries and 23 per cent of secondaries provide two hours a week. A minority of primary PE classes are delivered by specialist teachers.

The Educational Institute of Scotland is investigating "suspicious" payments deducted from salaries of teachers at St Margaret's private school in Edinburgh, which had to close down because of its level of debt. The union says some of its members there have questioned sums which were supposed to go to the pension scheme, the General Teaching Council for Scotland and the Student Loans Company.

Labour's former education spokesperson, Rhona Brankin, is to step down as a Holyrood MSP at the next election. The former Cabinet minister, who is MSP for Midlothian, says she wants to pursue other roles in public life and spend more time with her family.

People are twice as worried about parents not knowing where their children are after 9pm as they are about any harm arising out of slapping them, according to UK research by the Children's Society - 77 per cent against 33 per cent. The charity said the lack of concern about slapping was "worrying", given that more children are hurt in a family setting than outside their home.

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