McDonald won the by-election in Aberdeen by a healthy majority over the
Labour party. It was a busy period for pretty much all of our MSPs and
hundreds of activists, many of whom had never before seen those corners
by-election took place because of the sad passing of Brian Adam, our
much-loved and very highly regarded MSP who finally yielded to cancer.
None of us would have chosen that by-election but perhaps Brian is
smiling down upon it all. He will be congratulating Mark, who must be
exhausted after all that treading the sidewalks, knocking the doors and
talking to thousands of people.
delighted, though, to be sworn in Ė or back in actually, since he gave
up his List Seat to fight for this Constituency one Ė to the Parliament
on Tuesday this week and all of us know we have a fine colleague in
Mark McDonald, MSP, being
sworn in at the Scottish Parliament
Picture courtesy of the Scottish Parliament
thereís been a single clear theme this week, itís in the subject of
children and young people. I visited the Royal Mile Primary School a few
days back. Itís situated literally next door to the Parliament and we
often hear the children laughing and playing outside at lunchtime.
Thatís a rather cheering noise when youíre buried deep in a heavy
visiting the school in my role as Convener of the Committee for European
and External Affairs. Members have been looking closely at how we teach
foreign languages in Scottish primary schools and whether perhaps we can
do it better.
Scottish Government has launched an initiative to increase foreign
language learning in our primary schools. We want children to have the
skills and knowledge of other languages so that they will have the
confidence to go and visit other countries, perhaps study or work there,
and enrich their lives and opportunities as a result.
Committee Report (http://tinyurl.com/nj5yew2)
follows up on the recommendations of the Scottish Governmentís Languages
Working Group (http://tinyurl.com/qchlgw4
) The plan is to follow the EUís 1+2 model Ė that is, your mother tongue
plus two additional languages. An additional £4m has been allocated to
was great to see in practice how itís starting to work at Royal Mile. I
sat with the youngsters as they were learning French. They clearly loved
it and had none of the inhibitions about trying out their accent that we
develop as we get older. It was as natural to them as their native
so encouraging to watch them learn and absorb so easily and
enthusiastically. I wish Iíd be taught another language in that way when
I was seven or eight. Thatís a really valuable skill that is going to
not only build additional career options but build confidence and
youíre a regular reader, youíll know how much I support the work of The
Street Ė a youth theatre group who devise their own dramas about knife
crimes, drug abuse and other disruptive or anti-social behaviour. These
kids have been there, done that, felt the consequences and that means
they have the power to speak to their peers.
Street comes under the overall Regen:fx Youth Trust in South Lanarkshire
). I was really thrilled to see them win an award at the Regen:fx event,
alongside four other diverse groups. Well done to you all!
just as impressed by a rather different kind of group earlier this week.
One Parent Families Scotland held its local Transforming Lives Belshill
and Hamilton Celebration. I was presenting some very special young mums
with certificates marking the completion of a course that they tell me
has indeed transformed their lives.
dynamic local leader of this group of young, single mothers, some only
16 or 17, runs a fantastic 10 week course to help the lassies get a real
handle on their confidence and on how they can best reach for a
fulfilling, happy and productive life for both themselves and their
child or children.
Margaret tell you a bit more: ďOver and above an initial two day course,
we are heavily involved with the young mums dealing with the numerous
issues that arise from the sessions that are delivered.
the course we work with the mums for as long as needed Ė some are only
weeks; others can take much longer Ė itís all down to the individual and
we adopt an holistic approach to deal with whatever has to be done.Ē
Listening to these young ladies talking about what the programme has
done for them is the most telling evidence of all. They got up, they
spoke articulately, they explained how their lives had been changed and
that is a real testament to Margaretís success.
sessions cover a lot of ground Ė dealing with practical issues like
housing and money, looking towards employment opportunities, getting
qualifications, building a positive attitude, discussing good qualities
of your own, listening to others, communications, trust and how to get
the support you need as a young and perhaps isolated mum.
planning, after the recess, to invite these young mums to a reception at
the Parliament so that they can share their positive experience with
other MSPs and explain more about the support they have got.
Parliament goes off on recess this week but Iíll be back in touch soon
to tell you whatís going on in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse.