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A Week in Education

About 1,400 teachers were absent due to stress last year. Figures revealed under a Freedom of Information request by the Scottish Liberal Democrats showed wide variations across the country: they ranged from 6.6 per cent of Falkirk teachers off sick with the condition to 0.4 per cent in North Lanarkshire. Margaret Smith, the party's education spokesperson, said it was important for councils to take action not just to minimise stress for teachers but also to save money on absence costs.

A senior manager in Aberdeen City Council's education department has been charged with embezzlement. Another person, who is not a council employee, has also been charged. It follows a four-month investigation by Grampian Police into what is understood to be allegations of a pound;300,000 fraud relating to the home tutoring service.

Proposed new legislation on autism has been rejected at the Scottish Parliament. MSPs said improving existing laws was a better idea than the bill being proposed by Liberal Democrat Hugh O'Donnell. They were concerned about creating a "two-tier system", in which people with autism would have greater entitlement to support than others with special needs. There was reluctance, too, to support a bill which was backed by one autism group - the National Autistic Society Scotland - but not by the Scottish Society for Autism.

A probationer in an East Lothian primary has been announced as the winner of the George Gray award for producing the best undergraduate thesis by a student teacher. Marianne McCron investigated the impact of how boys and girls interact in the classroom. It helped her graduate with a BEd (Hons) First Class from Edinburgh University last year. Anthony Finn, chief executive of the General Teaching Council for Scotland, described her work as "insightful" but also "realistic".

Former First Minister Jack McConnell was reported at the weekend to be fearful that the teachers' agreement, which he drove through in 2001 when he was Education Minister, could be dismantled as a result of the Government's review. He cautioned against classrooms being returned to "the bad days of the 80s and 90s and the demoralised classrooms that plagued a generation of youngsters".

The Government has called in another set of school closure proposals, involving four schools in the Western Isles and one in Shetland. Another closure in Moray is being allowed to proceed. Education Secretary Michael Russell said there were "credible alternatives" to the Western Isles plan and that the Shetland consultation was "flawed."

College leaders have turned for guidance to the civil servant who was a key figure in shaping funding policy when the FE sector was removed from local authority control in 1993. Scotland's Colleges has appointed John Henderson, 57, currently deputy director of the Scotland Office, to be its new chief executive.

A new principal reporter and chief executive has been appointed by the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration. Neil Hunter will take over the roles in April, following spells as director of West Glasgow's Community Health and Care Partnership, and joint general manager of Glasgow Addiction Services. He will succeed Netta Maciver, who is retiring.

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