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A week in education

Unison, which represents pre-school support staff, has clashed with the Educational Institute of Scotland over the latter's insistence that only trained teachers can provide education in the early years. A review carried out by the Scottish Executive has recommended that pre-school centres could be led by someone qualified to degree level or a work-based equivalent, not necessarily with a teaching qualification.

But Pat Rowland, Unison Scotland's treasurer, said the executive's approach would open up career opportunities for nursery nurses and other early years staff to progress to the highest levels in the sector.

The annual schools anti-racism competition, organised by the Educational Institute of Scotland and the Show Racism the Red Card campaigners, celebrated the prizewinners at Hampden Park last week, with stars from Scottish football in attendance. The overall winner was Fiona MacGregor, who won pound;1,000 for her school, Greenock Academy, as well as ticket packages for her and her classmates to attend the next Scotland international football match.

Four education authorities believe they are showing the way in getting nursery and primary teachers to work together. A trial in West Lothian, East Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire has allowed teachers from both sectors to work in pairs. Strathclyde University researchers say primary teachers have found the learning environment in nursery classes to be much more relaxed and would like to translate that into P1.

Teacher Support Scotland says it is to introduce a free, 247 support service for teachers from May 10. It will be piloted for a year in Fife and Renfrewshire and, if successful, will be extended to the rest of the country in 2008. The organisation has been campaigning to have such a service since it was created five years ago. Meanwhile, others such as the Educational Institute of Scotland and some education authorities have set up their own helplines for teachers.

A familiar story for many schools has been unfolding in Glasgow where computer problems have affected 177 primary schools, following the decision to switch the contract from Mitel to Dell on April 1. Staff returning after the Easter holidays last week discovered they could not access email, internet or stored data. This meant schools were unable to use electronic registers, order catering supplies, or access reports on individual pupils.

Progress was being made this week in reconnecting the majority of schools and, at the time of going to press, only 21 schools were still without access.

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