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A week in education

Pupil numbers will fall in all local authorities by 2009, according to figures published by the Scottish Executive. The predicted rate of decline varies from 1.5 per cent (Angus) to 14.4 per cent (East Dunbartonshire) in primary schools, and 0.4 per cent (East Renfrewshire) to 12.2 per cent (Aberdeen City) in secondary schools. The figures also show that the number of pupils receiving publicly-funded school education is projected to decrease from 713,000 in 2005 to 626,000 in 2016. A slower decrease is predicted, to 611,000, by 2024.

An SNP government would introduce more centres of sporting excellence like Bellahouston sports academy. Nicola Sturgeon, the party's deputy leader, said her party would reveal "comprehensive plans" over the coming months to nurture sporting talent and improve the nation's health.

Colin Mackenzie, acting education and recreation director of Aberdeenshire Council, said "urgent action" was being taken and he was meeting with the head this week after it was found that a class of second year pupils at Aboyne Academy has had no full-time science teacher since the start of term.

Research into Heads Together, the online community for headteachers, found that 95 per cent of respondents regarded it as a valuable source of support and advice. The majority of heads found that the project, managed by Learning and Teaching Scotland, saved time and made their job easier.

Forty-two teachers have completed a teaching module that dovetails with the aims of A Curriculum for Excellence. The Teaching for Understanding module builds on the idea that topics in schools should be interesting, engaging and multi-disciplinary. The teachers are from eight authorities and received professional recognition from the General Teaching Council for Scotland this week.

East Renfrewshire Council has appointed Jacqui MacDonald as acting head of education services, children and young people. The 48-year-old quality improvement officer, a former head at Crookfur Primary, replaces Ian Fraser, who has been appointed director of education and social services with Inverclyde Council. The permanent post will be advertised by February.

The 300th anniversary of the Union of Parliaments will be commemorated by primary and secondary schools through an education project led by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Mounuments of Scotland. The project is part of plans announced this week by Patricia Ferguson, the Culture Minister, to mark the events that brought Scotland and England together in 1707.

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