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Hunger Lesson for Teachers

Child poverty in Scotland is now so severe that teachers are being sent advice on how to spot if a child in their class is going hungry, amid evidence that the problem is having an increasingly serious impact on education. The new guidance, which will be distributed to schools and colleges across Scotland next week, warns that the issue of hunger among pupils is “moving from the exceptional to the more commonplace” as families struggle to make ends meet. 
The advice has been drawn up by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), the country’s largest teaching union, after a survey of 300 schools and colleges suggested that teachers are increasingly having to help underfed pupils.
“Pupils may appear pale, fatigued, irritable or lacking in concentration, or complain of headaches or feeling unwell,” it states. “While there can be other reasons underlying such signs, for a growing number of children and young people in our schools and colleges today, the reason will be hunger.”

More th…

The Education Gap

SCHOOL leavers from the most deprived parts of Scotland are half as likely as those from the wealthiest areas to have passed at least one Higher or Advanced Higher.
Less than 40 per cent of those leaving school in the poorest parts of Scotland achieved this, compared to just under 80 per cent in the most affluent places, new figures showed. Almost three-fifths (58.8 per cent) of school leavers in 2013/14 had passed at least one Higher or Advanced Higher when they finished secondary school – up from 55.8 per cent the previous year.
A total of 39 per cent of school leavers in the most deprived areas of Scotland achieved this, compared to 34.9 per cent of 2012/13 leavers. The proportion of youngsters in the most affluent communities passing at least one Higher also rose, going from 77.4 per cent to 79.7 per cent.
EIS teaching union general secretary Larry Flanagan warned that the “attainment gap” had not narrowed enough despite policies such as the extension of free school meals. He sai…

Hard Lessons

The EIS teaching union has claimed that cuts in staff are making it harder to deal with bad behaviour in schools. The union blames falling teacher numbers, support staff cuts and falling numbers of educational psychologists. One particular concern is that pupils who might be better suited to special schools are remaining in mainstream schools without appropriate support.
In 2007 the SNP made a manifesto commitment to cut class sizes between Primary 1 and 3 to 18 or less. The average class in Primary 1, 2 and 3 has 23.3 pupils.

The latest government statistics also showed that the number of teachers in Scotland's schools fell in 2014 while the number of pupils increased. Full-time equivalent teacher (FTE) numbers stand at 50,824 which is 254 fewer than 2013 although the number of pupils in Scotland's schools is up 3,425 on the previous year to 676,955.

Should we be surprised?

Performance in maths, reading and science is more than 10 per cent higher in private schools in Scotland than in the state sector, new figures have revealed.

81% of pupils at Edinburgh’s Merchiston Castle, above, received A passes – though only 15 sat Highers, the rest sitting A-levels in S6. 69% of the 175 pupils who sat Highers at George Heriot’s in Edinburgh got As.

 Not one pupil at Castlebrae Community High or Craigroyston Community High both in Edinburgh, achieved five Highers or more. 1%In 2013, Wester Hailes Education Centre moved up a notch from 0%. All schools who have catchment areas of working class housing schemes.

Poor Exam Results

St Ninian’s High School and  Williamwood High School came first and second in a nationwide league table based on exam results. Once again, the league tables illustrate the gap between schools in affluent areas and those in more deprived parts of the country.

While only 6.2 per cent of pupils at St Ninian’s and 5.1 per cent of those at Williamwood received free meals, just a few miles away at Govan High School, 43.2 per cent of pupils received free school dinners. Govan High was among those schools where none of the S4 roll went on to pass five or more Highers in S5, as was another Glasgow school, St Margaret Mary’s Secondary in Castlemilk.

At Northfield Academy in Aberdeen, where 27.9 per cent of pupils receive free school meals, no pupils left with five Highers or more. In contrast, 40 per cent of pupils at nearby Cults Academy – where only 2.9 per cent receive free meals – got five Highers or more.

In Edinburgh, not one pupil at Castlebrae Community High or Craigroyston Community H…

Learning about schools and education

Children as such are not usually included among the oppressed. Yet they necessarily compose one of the weakest, most dependent and defenseless sections of the population. Each generation of children is not only helped but hindered and hurt by the elders who exercise direct control over them. Children are normally unaware of the social causes of their misfortunes and miseries and even the grown-ups may not know about them. Most parents cannot be held individually responsible for such misdeeds for they, too, have been shaped by the society around them and are obliged to follow certain ways out of necessity.


The class structure quickly impresses its stamp upon the personality, conditioning and regulating the relations between the sexes, the rich and the poor. This determines both the characteristics of the educational system and of the children tutored and trained under it.
Children soak up knowledge and retain it for use. The child learns best through direct personal experience. In the…

The wealthy students

Research shows that of Edinburgh University’s ultra-rich graduates – those worth at least £20m – more than a quarter get their money from family fortunes. Edinburgh’s 80 ultra-rich graduates were worth around £52million each, but 26% of them sourced their money from inheritance. Japan’s Princess Mako is to study at the university. German aristocrat Prince Albert II, who can trace his noble lineage back to the Holy Roman Empire and has been described as the world’s youngest billionaire, studied economics and theology at the university. Other royalty to study at the university include Romania’s Princess Margareta and Princess Raiyah of Jordan.
And among Glasgow University’s wealthiest former students, almost a fifth rely on inherited cash, according to the study. At Glasgow University 18% of the 80 ultra-rich graduates sourced their money from inheritance.





The failure of reformism

50 years of educational reforms have failed to make a significant improvement to the exam results of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, says a major new report.

 An estimated one in five school leavers has few or no qualifications and poor skills in basic literacy and numeracy. No school in a disadvantaged area has ever matched the performance of a school in a more affluent area.

Many children begin to fall behind in early secondary: "This has been apparent for at least 40 years. Yet decisive action has never been taken."

Quote of the day

Anthony Seldon, headmaster of Wellington College, complains that his pupils are suffering unreasonable discrimination. He claimed there are 62 pupils at Wellington bright enough to get an Oxbridge interview this year, but said he only expects 20 offers of places to come in.
He said: “From our perspective it looks as if some public school students are being discriminated against"

The rich seem to think their offspring are entitled to a place at the Oxbridge

a charity for the rich

Fettes College and St George’s School for Girls, both Edinburgh, and St Columba’s School in Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire, have failed the regulator’s charity test and been warned they must do more to help pupils from low-income families or lose their charitable status. As charities they are excused corporation tax and receive an 80 per cent discount on their rates. It also makes them eligible for specific loans and grants. They have been given 18 months to widen access.

Fettes, former prime minister Tony Blair’s old school, fees were “substantial and represent a restriction on accessing the majority of the benefit the charity provides”. Fettes charges £12,555 a year for primary pupils and £19,680 for those who are boarding. Fees for secondary pupils are £20,235 – £27,150 for boarders. Of the school of 706 only five received a full award, entitling them to 100% of the fees.

Education - a fail mark

Boroughmuir High School in Edinburgh came joint first in Scotland, (along with Glasgow’s Jordanhill School), after figures released showed 69 per cent of S5 pupils obtained three Highers or more. A few miles away not one student left either Wester Hailes Education Centre or Castlebrae Community High with a Higher, let alone the qualifications needed for a university place.

In Glasgow, just 5 per cent of students at Govan High School obtained three or more Highers, while schools in deprived areas of Aberdeen and Dundee also performed poorly.

Meanwhile Scotland's university for the elite, St Andrews, where Prince William and Kate Middleton studied, is accused of failing to enrol students from the poorest backgrounds - only 13 students from the most deprived backgrounds of the country in 2010/11 – 2.7% of the student intake.

Poverty means failing in school

Children who live in poverty in Scotland are already failing before school starts, a new study from Save the Children report suggested. Youngsters from poorer backgrounds were twice as likely to start primary school with developmental difficulties.
 The study found poorer children were twice as likely to have emotional and physical development difficulties. They were also twice as likely to have problems with communication and expressing themselves or making themselves understood. The report's authors said poorer youngsters were 50% more likely to face difficulties mixing with other children and were 40% more likely to be behind in their cognitive development - the ability to gain knowledge and learn. Figures from later in the education system showed that these children begin their school life behind their classmates and never catch up.



Big History - A History of All of Us

Socialist Courier found it interesting that three south Ayrshire schools – Ayr Academy, Kyle Academy and Marr College – have been working with schools in Canada Australia and America to promote a new approach to understanding world history. It is based on the idea that the academic study of the past can no longer be carried out from a nationalist perspective. It is argued that the discipline of history will progress only once it charts human activity with a global scope, looking at chains of cause and effect that do not respect national borders.

On a Big History course, the species Homo sapiens is not even mentioned until more than halfway through. It places geology and the climate at the centre of the subject, alongside other branches of science and technology. They believe it is essential to show that the course of human life has been altered by both natural and manmade factors. So Big History emphasises the significance of the fact that 4.6bn years ago an exploding star created a c…

A class education 2

Once again Scottish universities are in the spotlight over their failure to recruit sufficient numbers of students from deprived backgrounds. Scottish universities will take 40 years to achieve fair access for students from the most deprived backgrounds at current rates of progress, according to a new report. The proportion of Scots from the 20% least advantaged backgrounds going to university increased by just one percentage point – from 10.6% to 11.6% – between 2005/06 and 2010/11. St Andrews, where Prince William studied, recruiting only 13 students from the most deprived backgrounds in Scotland in 2010/11.

The universities– while accepting more can be done – feels the issue is not of its own making. Numerous previous studies have shown that the educational gap between the haves and have-nots opens up from nursery onwards – and can become insurmountable by the time pupils start sitting exams such as Standard Grades and Highers.

A Class Education

Despite some of Scotland’s most exclusive fee-paying secondary schools charging more than £30,000 for a year’s tuition, 80 per cent of their annual rates bills are being paid for by ­councils – because they are classed as charities. The classification of private schools as charities, not businesses, means the public purse foots almost all of each independent school’s annual non-domestic rates bill – even although they are already exempt from income and corporation tax. As a result, Scotland’s most prestigious private schools enjoy massive tax relief despite charging colossal annual fees while state schools struggle. In Glasgow and Edinburgh, the state schools’ non-domestic rates bill in 2011 was £23.6million, paid for by each council.

Edinburgh’s George Watson’s College, was spared £330,119 of charges.

Fettes charges £27,150 a year for senior school boarders. Its bill for non-domestic rates last year was £209,139, but an 80% discount meant the school had £167,311 taken off. By contrast…

It's beyond belief !

Thousands of American school students in Louisiana attend private religious schools that teach from a fundamentalist christian curriculum that suggests the Loch Ness Monster is real and disproves evolution.

"Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence. Have you heard of the `Loch Ness Monster' in Scotland? `Nessie,' for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur."explains an Accelerated Christian Education science textbook
It goes on to declare that "True science will never contradict the Bible because God created both the universe and Scripture...If a scientific theory contradicts the Bible, then the theory is wrong and must be discarded."
Politically, the religious school curriculums denounce trade unions as "... plagued by socialists and anarchists who use laborers to destroy the free-enterprise syst…

The class struggle

Members the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), Scotland's largest teachers union, yesterday voted in favour of fighting austerity measures in a renewed campaign which could lead to industrial action in the autumn. The union backed motions calling for action to protect the profession from public sector cuts and oppose changes to their pensions being made by the UK government. While pension reform is reserved to Westminster, the Scottish Government has said it must implement the changes or face losing £100 million a year it receives from the UK government. Last November, Scots teachers took part in a UK-wide strike over pension changes – the first nationwide walkout by the profession in Scotland since 1986.

In a scathing attack the newly-elected EIS general secretary Larry Flanagansaid  “We understand that it is the UK government, the coalition, that has been the driving force behind the attempt to make teachers pay more, to work longer and to get less. We know who the guilty …

forgetting the poor

Figures obtained by the National Union of Students show older universities each typically recruit fewer than 100 students from deprived backgrounds. Student leaders have described as "truly awful" the record of Scottish universities on admitting students from poorer backgrounds.

 Students are classed as coming from a poorer background if they grew up in one of the least affluent 20% of postcode districts.

St Andrews University admitted 13 students from these areas. It teaches a total of 7,370 undergraduates.

Edinburgh and Aberdeen also recruited fewer than 100 students from these districts. Aberdeen could only muster 51 and Edinburgh 91.

Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, whose intake of 102 students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Edinburgh College of Art, which merged with the University of Edinburgh last year, took in eight students, or 5.6 per cent, from deprived areas. Glasgow School of Art took in 13 students, 7.0 per cent of their intake last year.

Glasgow recorded high…

Child poverty according to their teachers

Growing numbers of children are turning up at school malnourished, dirty and struggling to concentrate because of soaring poverty levels in the recession, a study suggests.  Almost six-in-10 teachers reported encountering pupils who are left hungry through lack of food at least once a week, it was revealed. In some cases, "scavenger" children have been caught finishing scraps of food or using school as a place to warm up and eat a decent meal, according to the study by the Prince's Trust and the Times Educational Supplement.

The study – based on interviews with 515 secondary school teachers- found  39 per cent of teachers found hungry pupils every day, rising to 57 per cent who witnessed it on a weekly basis. 16 per cent of teachers had seen a pupil suffering from malnutrition or showing signs of not eating enough every day, with a further 13 per cent encountering this weekly. Nearly 66 per centcame across students who did not have clean clothe…