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A week in education

Official statistics released this week show the Scottish Executive is within a whisker of achieving its target of having 53,000 teachers in post by this August. The annual census shows there were 52,879 in September 2006, just 121 short of the goal. The figures also show the number of maths and English teachers, essential to fulfil class size pledges in S1 and S2, is edging up - from 2,293 in 2003 to 2,654 in maths and from 2,412 in 2003 to 2,796 in English. Other figures also confirm the gender balance continues to shift in favour of women - over the past 10 years from 91 per cent in primary schools in 1996 to 92 per cent and from 51 per cent in secondaries to 59 per cent. The number of female heads remains high in primaries at 83 per cent, but is not representative in secondaries where only 23 per cent are women (but they make up 42 per cent of deputes).

Glasgow claims to be the first local authority in Scotland to offer daily toothbrushing to all its 10,644 P1 and P2 pupils. This goes beyond the target in the Scottish Dental Action plan which is to have toothbrushing for P1 and P2 pupils in the 20 per cent of schools with the worst dental health record in each education authority.

"Jack's army" is the inevitable title bestowed on plans unveiled by the First Minister to give 16 and 17 year olds the option of going on residential courses run by the Territorial Army. The idea is to develop skills such as teamwork, leadership and general fitness, with no obligation to join the armed forces. The plan is part of a pre-manifesto agreement launched in London by the First Minister and Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Inspection reports on child protection services in two areas reveal an average performance. Of the 18 indicators of quality ranging across the six levels from excellent to unsatisfactory, Borders received six very good evaluations, 10 good and two adequate, while Argyll and Bute got one very good verdict, eight good and nine adequate.

Highland Council has appointed Hugh Fraser as its new director of education, culture and sport in succession to Bruce Robertson who has taken charge in Aberdeenshire. Mr Fraser has been the council's head of education support services since 2002.

The Scottish Executive's new guidelines on healthy eating in schools will seek to ban sugary fizzy drinks, high fat crisps and chocolate from school tuck shops and vending machines. But deep fried foods can be served for lunch twice a week, with oven chips permitted any time as long as they are part of a meal.

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