Fair shares in funding?

"Captain, the engines cannae take much more" - the catchphrase of "Scottie" of Star Trek was based on the stereotypical, highly trained Scots mechanic. Albeit in a futuristic guise, this was the kind of chap that in days of yore Dundee Technical College prided itself on turning out. The college, founded in 1888 for the training of mechanics, as shown in the stone carvings on the front of its original home, moved on to navigation, which explains the ship's bridge that stands on its roof. Now, reincarnated as the University of Abertay Dundee, it specialises in biotechnology and computer games. It was Abertay that trained the creator of Grand Theft Auto.

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'End of history?'

'History is more or less bunk, said Henry Ford. And that view appears to be gaining ground.

Not in St Augustine's high school in Edinburgh, where it is one of the most popular subjects, with 65% of pupils taking it to exam level. There, the subject is compulsory until the third year. "History should be part of everyone's secondary education," says Andy Gray, the headteacher. "We have a right and a duty to pass on our story."

However, at least four secondary schools in Scotland have now dropped the subject altogether in favour of other social science subjects that they say pupils find more relevant, and in which they do better.

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Is being a drop-out par for the course?

For the thousand ormore nervous first years who recently moved into Legoland blocks on the treelined Heriot Watt University campus west of Edinburgh, it is a hopeful time. As with the half of all young Scots who now go on to higher education, they are setting out on what they expect will be the start of a bright future.

But a young man tending the bar at Geordie's in the student union could tell a sorrier tale.

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Ecosse: Adoption trap

Later this month Malcolm and Pauline Dixon will find out if they have defeated the government and can start a family, writes Jackie Kemp.

All they wanted was an ordinary family life - the kind most people take for granted. Cautious, do-it-by-the-book Malcolm Dixon and Pauline, his wife, did not foresee that their lives would be transformed to the point where they would mount a legal challenge against a government minister.

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Driving children from distraction

"I was called in to see the teacher just a few days after my son Alex started school. The teacher said he wouldn't sit at his desk. We had just suffered a sudden bereavement in the family. I tried to explain how he might be feeling, but she didn't seem to want to know."

For Anne Cranston, this was the beginning of several years of difficult consultations. "It's very upsetting, hearing teachers being negative about your child. I would sit on the little chairs in the classroom and I wouldn't know what to say."

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