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A Week in Education

News | Published in TESS on 1 January, 2010

The Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association claims that councils are withdrawing support for some pupils with Additional Support for Learning needs, because of financial cutbacks. Ann Ballinger, SSTA general secretary, blamed the concordat between central and local government for financial cuts in education. “It is now time for the Government to act, insisting that previous support standards, already very minimal in some schools, are retained,” she said.

Education spokesperson for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities Isabel Hutton said: “The irony of this accusation is that the concordat, and the local flexibility it enables, actually makes it more likely, not less, that individual children with special needs will receive support appropriate to their needs.”

There will be four school closures in Edinburgh - Burdiehouse, Drumbrae, Fort and Royston primaries - at the end of the summer term as part of a cost-cutting exercise, Edinburgh City Council has announced. The decision was taken after a five-hour meeting of the full council. Voting was split 29 for and 29 against, with the casting vote by Lord Provost George Grubb. Labour, Conservative and Green Party councillors joined together to vote against the closures.

St Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh is under scrutiny by the Care Commission after being hit by a third sex scandal in just over a year. Ashley Turnell, a 36-year-old teacher at the specialist music school, was struck off the General Teaching Council for Scotland’s register last month, following his conviction over a four-month sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy. In October, 2008, Jamieson Sutherland, a singer in St Mary’s choir and a music teacher, was jailed for 18 months after he was caught with more than 4,000 child pornography images on a computer; and last August, a house parent, Ryan Deneven-Lewis, was put on probation after he groomed two teenage girls at the school.

Councils are delegating too many employment issues to headteachers, the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association has claimed. In a newsletter to members, SSTA general secretary Ann Ballinger criticised councils for not offering heads enough training, particularly in employment law, and said heads were having to spend too much time implementing council absence management policies. Isabel Hutton, Cosla’s education spokesperson, said the delegation of responsibility was in response to headteachers’ arguments that if they were to be accountable for school performance, they also needed to be responsible for the selection of their staff. “The suggestion that they now return to a centralised appointments system is neither sustainable nor justifiable,” she said. Similarly, school managers had a key role to play with regard to absence management.

All new schools should be “greener” and be working towards Eco-School status, the Educational Institute for Scotland has told the Scottish Government.

“Once the Scottish Futures Trust finally starts to deliver much-needed new school buildings, it must place a great degree of emphasis on constructing modern buildings which are well suited to modern learning and teaching methods, but which are also extremely environmentally friendly,” said Ronnie Smith, EIS general secretary.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “Our new school estate strategy includes a strong, joint commitment from local and central government to developing more sustainable school buildings - in design, construction and operation.”


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