Ten-year view

Written by Tom Freeman on 7 October 2015

This week saw the publication of the 10-year report of the Growing up in Scotland study.

It showed time spent reading to children at 10 months, children’s vocabulary at age three and mental wellbeing of primary carer have all improved in recent years, as well as a reduction in inequalities in relation to early cognitive ability and breastfeeding rates.

However inequality in Scotland remains “stark” according to the report.

Mental health up the agenda

Written by Tom Freeman on 18 September 2015

"Let's take action and change lives" said See Me's Judith Robertson at the organisation's parliamentary reception last night. Around one in three GP appointments have a mental health component, the reception heard.

 The call to arms rounds off a week which has seen a lot of focus on mental health. This is in part thanks to new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who used Prime Minister's Questions to bring up the issue as one of his 'questions from the public' approach.

Are council education debts to rise?

Written by Tom Freeman on 29 July 2015

The legacy of PFI continues.

With council education budgets ever-tightening, the money set aside for maintaining unitary payments for schools built using private finance initiatives has been rising in recent years.

In 1998-2001, Audit Scotland predicted the initial PFI deals would lead to more long-term value for money and greater focus on long-term service and performance standards.

Uncomfortable reading for NHS chiefs

Written by Tom Freeman on 10 July 2015

“These are hard-hitting recommendations and will make uncomfortable reading for many managers and leaders in our health service,” said Royal College of Nursing Scotland Director Theresa Fyffe in reference to this morning’s report by the Royal Colleges on ‘systemic failings’ in the NHS.

Education bill: half-baked or purposeful?

Written by Tom Freeman on 24 June 2015

To say the new Education Bill hasn’t set the heather alight is to understate the level of criticism levelled at the draft legislation in recent weeks.

“The more I look at the Education Bill, I feel there is no ‘big education idea’ at all,” wrote Holyrood editor Mandy Rhodes in a recent column

Should Scottish homes have sprinkler systems?

Written by on 5 June 2015

It is incomprensible that someone, somewhere inside the Scottish Parliament didn’t realise the irony. The Scottish Fire Sprinkler Coordination Group last month came to Holyrood as part of efforts to raise awareness among MSPs. Their lunchtime event was held in Committee Room 1, which, as it happens, is now more commonly known as the Robert Burns room. 

Importance of BSL not falling on deaf ears

Written by Tom Freeman on 3 June 2015

A recent editorial in the Herald suggested Mark Griffin’s British Sign Language Bill is not the kind of legislation to “capture the imagination”, but judging by yesterday’s Stage 2 proceedings the Education and Culture Committee disagree.

After all, as I’ve covered in this briefing before, the Committee has engaged a wide base of BSL users through social media, including an active Facebook page.

There appeared to be a fair bit of support from the Scottish Government, too, as Learning Minister Alasdair Allan backed many of the amendments.

Analysis: Early release changes

Written by Alan Robertson on 22 May 2015

Members of the Justice Committee will return to the Prisoners (Control of Release) (Scotland) Bill next week following the Scottish Government’s amendments at Stage 2. It would seem, though, that the controversy which dogged the bill at Stage 1 is not yet set to dissipate. 

What does the general election mean for energy?

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 1 May 2015

Welcome to another general election themed briefing. Last week I summarised party policies on the environment, waste, fisheries, biodiversity and forestry. A few people got in touch to say it was useful so I thought it might be good to follow it with a look at what policies mean for the energy sector.

What does each party's policy mean for the environment?

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 24 April 2015

I decided that, with the general election so close, it might be helpful to take a look at what each party’s policy means for the environment. I do not mean this to be exhaustive but it should cover the bases.

Obviously, some of these concern devolved issues. However, given the way environmental policy overlaps, and with parties like the SNP saying they will vote on ‘English only’ issues, I have included them.