Back to the start

Written by Katie Mackintosh on 9 December 2014

“Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you’ve got to start young,” so Fred Astaire once said.

These wise words were repeated by Professor Ian Deary last week during Voluntary Health Scotland’s seminar on health, wellbeing and your brain.

Out of the mouths of babes

Written by Kate Shannon on 9 December 2014

A story which caught my eye recently was that of a 10-year-old girl who has applied for the job as a town council leader in Finland. Primary school student Mili Kasurinen wants to head the council in Kemijarvi, the country’s northernmost town, the Yle news website reports. She’s got some stiff competition for the role (18 adults) but is taking it all very seriously, telling Yle that “this is not some sort of joke to be laughed at”.

A lot of frack and nonsense

Written by on 26 November 2014

There was a heavy environmental focus as the dust settled from Alex Salmond’s farewell of sorts to party conference.
As the crowds headed for the exit, motions on tougher measures to combat raptor persecution, a better deal for farmers and Scotland’s commitment to clean and green energy were packed into the afternoon session.
But the most fervent comments were saved for a particularly hot topic – fracking.

Two tribes

Written by Tom Freeman on 25 November 2014

The age-old discussion on balancing the curriculum between art and science has resurfaced in recent weeks, with a Learned Societies’ Group on Scottish Science Education report suggesting the Curriculum for Excellence has led to less spent per pupil on science education in primary and secondary schools in Scotland than in England’s more traditional curriculum.

Preserving the past

Written by on 25 November 2014

In the past couple of weeks, the Scottish Parliament has paved the way for a new body to be set up to oversee the management and protection of Scotland’s heritage. 
During the final parliamentary stage at Holyrood, the Historic Environment Scotland Bill was backed unanimously by MSPs, giving the green light for the new organisation to be created, subject to Royal Assent. 

On the menu

Written by on 24 November 2014

Hospital food is to get a makeover, after the Scottish Government announced it is to spend a further £300,000 to help health boards improve nutritional care in hospitals. 

I had a regular (bedside) table chez NHS Scotland during a week-long residential I had when I was having my son last year. Like many new mums, I recall the post-birth tea and toast with grateful affection, and can also credit my stay for reawakening a dormant fondness for Rice Crispies and ice-cold milk. But apart from that, the menu was probably best forgotten. 

A nice house warming

Written by on 12 November 2014

When I interviewed Keith Brown a couple of years ago, then also Minister for Housing, he admitted a huge amount of work needed to be done to bring homes up to scratch and make them energy efficient.
Brown looked forward to a time when mortgage lenders would consider the energy costs into their complex calculations that decide whether or not someone can afford a home, meaning the more energy efficient your home, the more likely your success rate – and the more likely it would sell.

The numbers game

Written by on 11 November 2014

An extra £40m is to be invested in GP practices in deprived and rural areas, Health Secretary Alex Neil announced last week.

This new primary care development fund is intended to support new ways of delivering local GP and primary care services that can better support the changing demographics of the Scottish population.

Hard times

Written by on 11 November 2014

Without sounding like we’ve slipped into an episode of Game of Thrones, winter is coming. For councils, this is both literally and metaphorically the truth. While local authority Twitter accounts are tweeting the message about their winter weather preparations, I can’t help but think that for many in the public sector, winter might already be here. The storm in question is that of an ageing population and spiralling inequality, coupled with a decreasing budget and more demand placed on it than ever.

Taxing times

Written by Tom Freeman on 11 November 2014

The parents’ lobby has suggested education be centralised. Should anyone be surprised? Highland Council’s draft budget indicates schools could close, school days could be shortened and 1,000 council staff, including 50 secondary school teachers, could lose their jobs. And Highland is not alone. Many councils are looking at the education sector for savings, in a scale not seen for many years.