Education

Fathers 4 Justice

It may be freezing but "a simmering pot of volcanic ash" is hotting up and ready to explode across Britain. So said a spokesman for the protest group Fathers 4 Justice yesterday, angry about the government's new child-access arrangements.
These men's anger cannot be doubted. From scaling the walls of Buckingham Palace to bombarding the prime minister with powder, their protests have become increasingly fierce and desperate. Now the government in Westminster has offered some changes, which have been dismissed as mere tinkering by the group. In fact, that is all they are. The package amounts to little more than a restating of the existing position that the court must protect the rights of children. That is all very well, but it does nothing to address the men's central complaint, which is that they say they are being systematically discriminated against.

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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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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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'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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