This article by Katie Macleod was first published in EVENTS newspaper (available at www.hebevents.com) on 07/06/2018

With another year’s school exams over, young people in the Western Isles will be looking forward to their holidays – and ahead to their potential career prospects.

For those unsure of their next steps, or considering pathways into the world of work, new openings in Comhairle nan Eilean’s apprenticeship scheme offer even more opportunities this summer.

Twenty-five new posts are currently open for applications, across health and social care, child care, re-ablement, business administration, attainment, IT, and social work; there’s also a very attractive position open for a trainee accountant.

This article, written by Katie Macleod, was first published in EVENTS newspaper (available at www.hebevents.com) on 07/12/2017

As technology changes the nature of work everywhere, and local population numbers continue to fluctuate, people across Scotland are considering what these changes mean for the continued sustainability of their communities.

In the Outer Hebrides, the question being asked is: what does the future hold for our communities?

These questions – and responses – are currently being navigated by the Outer Hebrides Community Planning Partnership (OHCPP), with the action needing to be taken outlined in their recently published Local Outcome Improvement Plan (LOIP).

In general, community planning is focused on how public agencies work with the private sector, voluntary agencies, and communities themselves to deliver better services. The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 introduced a shift from councils being lead community partners to there being a core group of agencies with a duty to facilitate this kind of community planning

This article, written by Katie Macleod, was first published in EVENTS newspaper (available at www.hebevents.com) on 02/11/2017

Pupils, teacher, and schools across the Outer Hebrides celebrated successes at the Royal National Mod in Lochaber last month, taking home medals in everything from choral competitions to accordion solos.

For music education in the islands, success is being achieved not only in traditional music, but across the board, with new initiatives, partnerships, and even a funding boost from Creative Scotland.

“In terms of music, we are delivering quite a lot of that already from the Education Department,” says the Comhairle’s Music Development Officer, Gavin Woods.

“30 per cent of our young people are actively involved in learning a musical instrument through school, one of the highest rates in Scotland.”

This takes place in a number of ways: full-time music instructors teach wind and brass, piping, and Gaelic singing, while part-time instructors – working as part of a Scottish Government programme called the Youth Music Initiative – offer lessons in fiddle, guitar, keyboard, and whistle.

This article was first published in EVENTS newspaper (available at www.hebevents.com) on 02/11/2017

With more and more people finding their news online, the Education and Children’s Services Department at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar decided to open another channel of communication with the communities of the Western Isles – by starting a blog.

Launched in April of this year, the “Director’s Blog” was set up following feedback from the wider community, and offers updates from the perspective of the Director, Bernard Chisholm, as well as the Department as a whole.

The homepage shows a welcome message from Bernard, while various sections host information that parents, young people, and other service users may need. On the Information Services page, for instance, there are links to school contact details, holiday dates, and free school meals, while the Department News page shows updates and bulletins on everything from school events to software upgrades.

Members of the public looking for policy updates will find them on the Comhairle Committee page, which features links to the agendas and reports of the Education and Children’s Services Committee.

This article was first published in EVENTS newspaper (available at www.hebevents.com) on 05/10/2017

The e-Sgoil programme at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has been hailed a success. The first year of operation was designated a ‘Proof of Concept Year’. However, due to demands on the programme internally and externally it has, in effect, been fully operational all year.

An independent review of the first 12 months, stated: “It is very commendable how the leadership team at the Comhairle have looked for opportunities to test the e-Sgoil platform during the setup year, but also their active desire to help other authorities and schools in difficult situations has been impressive.

"Some highlights have included; the partnership with Aberdeen City Council and Hazlehead Academy for the delivery of a Gàidhlig course thereby ensuring the continued opportunity for the pupils in the face of a staffing shortage; the links with Bishopbriggs Academy in East Dunbartonshire, again addressing a staff shortage for a three month period; the RMPS higher course delivered from The Nicolson Institute to Sir E Scott school in Harris. These and other examples have not only proved the platform can work but also has provided very positive feedback.