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A week in education

The Scottish Executive is to give most of the pound;40 million promised to implement cuts in P1-3 class sizes to councils whose primary schools have the highest occupancy levels. There are 815 which are more than 75 per cent full, of which 276 or one in nine are at 90 per cent or above. This means that Aberdeenshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Fife and North Lanark-shire will each receive more than pound;3 million for 2007-08. In a letter to authorities explaining how the cash is to be distributed, the executive says 95 per cent of the sum is to be earmarked for such schools, with the remainder going to those in the most deprived areas.

Only 14 per cent of Scottish schools are considered in "good" condition, according to government figures on the school estate. Although pound;97 million was spent on repairs and maintenance last year and pound;95 million on service payments under the public private partnership programme, 36 per cent are still in a "bad" or "poor" state.

Julia Swan, the new director of education in Falkirk Council, has given a "much improved sense of purpose and direction" to the authority and staff had "considerable confidence" in the leadership of education, according to the latest HMIE education authority report. But, as with the previous inspection which led to the departure of the former director, Falkirk's Achilles heel remains the attainment of secondary school pupils which is still "weak". The overall picture was of an "improving" authority: one of the quality indicators was judged "very good" while the other nine were "good."

Pupils' diet and teeth are being targeted for further improvement by the Scottish Executive, which plans free nutritious meals for P1-3 classes during a pound;5 six-month trial in five education authorities, as well as a return to free dental checks for the most deprived youngsters.

Nearly 64 per cent of Scots parents cannot afford holiday trips and visits for their children, including 44 per cent who could not afford to take them swimming. The Westminster and Holyrood governments aim to eradicate child poverty by 2020.

The Scottish Qualifications Auth-ority believes it is the first such body in the EU to develop a qualification in internet safety, a unit at Intermediate 1 level. It is aimed at small businesses, online shoppers and young people.

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