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Updated: 1 hour 32 min ago

Midlothian launches new Centre of Research and Innovation in Learning

1 hour 36 min ago

Back row – Councillor Jim Muirhead, Midlothian Council’s cabinet member for education and Ken Muir, the Chief Executive of the GTCS.
Front Row: Dr Mary Smith, Midlothian Council’s Director of Education, Communities and Economy, Professor Rowena Arshad, the head of Moray House School of Education and co-director of the Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland (CERES) and Dr Grace Vickers, Midlothian’s Head of Education.

Midlothian Council has officially launched a new Centre of Research and Innovation in Learning.

A partnership project with the University of Edinburgh and the General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS), the centre is based at the council’s Fairfield House in Dalkeith.

Speaking at the launch event at the GTCS headquarters in Edinburgh, Midlothian Council’s cabinet member for education, Councillor Jim Muirhead said:

“Spearheaded by our innovative partnership working with the university, the centre will build on the pioneering work already underway in Midlothian.

“With our focus already on evidence-based best practice such as Professor John Hattie’s Visible Learning, we want to support, commission, harness and share research to improve the way students learn.

“This is a very exciting project that will impact on learning and attainment not just in Midlothian but certainly across Scotland, if not further afield.”

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The Centre of Research and Innovation in Learning will:

– Promote practitioner enquiry as a consistent and deliberate practice. Practitioner enquiry is an area of professional learning that supports teachers to become more engaged with research to support their own learning and ultimately pupil experiences.

– Promote collaboration within and across schools

– Promote the impact of collaborating on student learning and the use of Visible Learning coaches

– Promote the use of research and evidence-based practice to support improvement

– Support staff undertaking Masters level research and learning

– Commission research with partners that enhances the way students learn

– Support external researchers undertaking work with permission in Midlothian

– Support distribution and sharing of effective theory and practice about how students learn

– Support publication of research within Midlothian

– Ensure central records are kept of relevant research and papers for staff to access

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Professor Rowena Arshad, the head of Moray House School of Education and co-director of the Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland (CERES) was one of the two keynote speakers at the launch.

Professor Arshad said:

“Midlothian Council is to be highly commended for establishing this centre and for recognising the place of research in improving educational practice. The possibilities this hub provides is exciting. For example, it may help develop basic research on how pupils and teachers learn or aid in researching specific teaching strategies to develop language acquisition. Now teachers and pupils can be part of finding answers to questions they want to ask and solutions to problems they want to solve.”

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Ken Muir, the chief executive of the GTCS, also spoke at the launch. He said:

“Practitioner Enquiry is an area of professional learning that is embedded in the GTCS Professional Standards for teaching. It is recognised within Scottish education as a key way for teachers to engage with research in order to enhance their own practice and lead educational change.

“GTCS is pleased to support this innovative project that will see teachers in Midlothian and beyond offered increased support in this area. This will undoubtedly lead to enhanced learning and teaching, and ultimately improved outcomes for our children and young people.”

The new centre comes just weeks after Midlothian Council launched its first Centre of Excellence. Again working with the University of Edinburgh, the newly opened Newbattle High School will specialise in digital skills.

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Categories: Community News

Brown Bin charges from March next year

Fri, 22/06/2018 - 15:07

Charges for collecting brown bins in Midlothian are to be introduced from March next year meaning residents will need to pay to have their brown bin emptied.

An annual permit will cost £35 per bin and there are no exemptions or concessions.

The brown bin will still be collected fortnightly and charging will begin when collection re-starts in March 2019.

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The council said:

“The charge will cover the cost of collection and the treatment of garden waste. Like other local authorities, our funding from central Government has been cut, and we must make difficult decisions about what we can and cannot provide. The charge for garden waste collection will help reduce our £13.5 million funding gap. The other option was to stop brown bin collections altogether.

“A very small part of your Council Tax pays for emptying all bins and disposing of waste. Council Tax funds a wide range of services, and is not a direct charge for services or items. We are legally required to collect household waste free of charge, but this does not include garden waste.

“Residents can opt take their garden waste to a Recycling Centre free of charge or compost their garden waste at home.

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From January 2019 residents will be able to apply and pay for a permit. Residents will then get a sticker for their bin which collection crews will check when they empty the bin. Bins without a permit sticker will not be emptied.

Edinburgh council have recently introduced a brown bin charge and they have opted to charge £25.

Former Midlothian SNP MP Owen Thompson said on Twitter:

“Come on @midgov time for a rethink on this! Massive backwards step and seriously short sighted. #NoBinCharge”

There are concerns that this charge will mean an increase in the instances of fly-tipping across Midlothian or residents will opt to put garden waste into their black bins which would mean the council incurs further landfill costs negating some of the savings they seek to make.

Council leader Derek Milligan told Midlothian View:

“Scottish government cuts to council budgets are forcing councils across Scotland to scrap or introduce charging for services such as garden waste.

“With Midlothian still expected to see further cuts of up to £38 million over the next 5 years the council simply doesn’t have adequate funding to provide services that the public want.”

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Categories: Community News

Mischievous Reading for Summer!

Fri, 22/06/2018 - 09:51

From left to right: Mayfield Primary School pupils (and mischief makers!) Caitlin Birrell, Denae Wight and Chelsey Birrell at the new Newbattle Library.

This year’s Summer Reading Challenge was launched in Midlothian today.

The reading challenge is open to primary school aged children of all reading abilities. It runs in all Midlothian libraries from 22 June and children can sign up for free at their local library.

The theme of 2018’s challenge is ‘Mischief Makers’, inspired by the historic Beano comics, which celebrate their 80th anniversary this year. Everyone taking part will get a map of Beanotown and will receive stickers for reading books. Comic book favourites Dennis the Menace and Gnasher will be on hand to help solve clues to a mysterious buried treasure. Read six books and collect all the stickers to find the treasure and complete the challenge.

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Councillor Stephen Curran, cabinet member with responsibility for libraries said:

“The annual Summer Reading Challenge is a great way to engage children in reading during the long summer holidays. It helps keep up their reading skills and gives them confidence. Children can read whatever type of books they like for example joke books, novels, non-fiction and even audio books – as long as they are borrowed from the library.”

For further information or to sign up, children or their parents should contact their local library. Children can also create an account on the Mischief Makers Summer Reading Challenge website to keep a note of the books they read:


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Categories: Community News

Community Council boundary changes

Thu, 21/06/2018 - 18:01

Current boundaries between the two Community Councils.

The Community Councils of Eskbank & Newbattle and Bonnyrigg & Lasswade are proposing to change the boundary between their two wards to reflect the actual nature of our communities and the levels of interest in the developments that take place within the boundaries. This will ensure that the appropriate communities get informed about developments that affect them as they only get informed if the land is identified as belonging to our ward.

They are about to begin a 90-day consultation period. If you have any comments or concerns then email Communities.Team@midlothian.gov.uk.

Proposed boundaries between the two Community Councils.

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Categories: Community News

Lets get together in Jarnac Court this Friday

Wed, 20/06/2018 - 17:53

The Great Get Together will be holding an event as part of The Great Get Together weekend on Friday 22nd June at Jarnac court between 12.30 and 2pm.

The first Great Get Together was held last year on the anniversary of Jo’s murder. This year her family have decided to move the celebrations to the weekend of what would have been her 44th birthday.

Come along to celebrate diversity and community in Midlothian on Friday.

The Great Get Together will be providing tea, coffee and baked goods to the community with the aim of bringing everybody together to discuss local issues. A gazebo and tables and chairs laid out in Jarnac Court from 12.30.

There will be representation from local people, Midlothian Voluntary action, and Refugee action Scotland to celebrate diversity in Midlothian and there will be representatives from the Midlothian refugee community present looking to get involved and share their experiences with everybody.

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Midlothian MP Danielle Rowley said

“Midlothian is such a welcoming and inclusive community and I hope that this event brings us even closer.

“I’m pleased to be bringing our community together to celebrate what we have in common.”

Jo Cox’s sister, Kim Leadbeater, said:

“Jo loved a celebration and, speaking as a proud Yorkshire lass, nobody can rival us for the best parties, but there are so many wonderful events planned for the end of June that I wish I could get to all of them. Britain is once again coming together to show our country at its best. Whether it’s the big community gatherings or the dozens of smaller events, including boat races, musical extravaganzas and street parties, this will be a weekend to remember.

“I’m touched by how many people say they remember my sister’s words in Parliament when she said we have more in common than that which divides us. On June 22-24 we can prove her right and help continue the work she started.

“I’m sure the get together in Dalkeith will be huge success and I hope everybody who gets involved has an amazing time”

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The 2018 Great Get Together builds on the success of last year when over 120,000 events, large and small, took place across the UK to mark the first anniversary of the murder of Jo Cox MP. The popular mix of streets parties, BBQs, picnics and Iftars will be supplemented with sporting events and occasions to bridge community divisions and make new connections.

All of them are inspired by Jo’s first speech to parliament when she said “we are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us”.

Once again the Great Get Together has teamed up with a team of partners including the FA, Women’s Institute, NCVO, the Scouts, Girl Guiding, Royal British Legion, RSPB, The Challenge, Airbnb, Tesco and many more see www.greatgettogether.org

Jo Cox’s life was marked by her compassion and by her passion. She worked tirelessly for a fairer, kinder and more tolerant world. And she believed passionately that even the greatest challenges could be overcome.

Jo was murdered on the 16th June 2016 in the place she loved – Batley and Spen – doing the work she loved, as an MP on behalf of her constituents. The Jo Cox Foundation has been established to support her friends, family and colleagues in their efforts to continue her work and to highlight the issues she cared about so deeply.

Led by her example, they are restless for change. Just as she did, they believe in working together with individuals and organisations that share the commitment to a fairer, kinder more tolerant world. www.jocoxfoundation.org

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Categories: Community News

Lots of fun for children with additional support needs

Wed, 20/06/2018 - 12:20

From drama to days out, sports to sensory garden workshops, a summer fun programme for children with additional support needs is jam-packed with inclusive activities.

Midlothian Council children’s services has worked with partner agencies to devise a menu of summer activities for parents to choose what best meets their children’s over the summer holidays.

Midlothian Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, Councillor Jim Muirhead said:

“We know from a recent VOCAL survey that families are looking for lots of local activities that work for them.

“Our staff and partner agencies have worked really hard to come up with an inclusive programme to cater for all tastes and abilities – whether you love to craft or are happier playing a sport.

“I think the programme is so varied that there might be quite a lot of demand so get onto our website now to find out more, including how to book.”

Find out more at www.midlothian.gov.uk/summer-fun

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Categories: Community News

Provost pays tribute to reservists for Armed Forces Week

Tue, 19/06/2018 - 15:06

To mark Army Reserves Day on Wednesday 27 June, Midlothian’s provost, Councillor Peter Smaill paid tribute to the council’s reservists, including risk and safety advisor Grant Kenny, pictured.

Decorated 10 times, Grant served with The Royal Engineers for 23 years, 19 of those as an army commando.

During his distinguished career, Grant saw active service in countries including Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq and Northern Ireland.

Grant, who lives in East Lothian with wife Lesley and two daughters, Samantha and Lucy, is one of three reservists in the council. As a member of the Regular Reserves, Grant can be called up to serve his country right up until the age of 60.

The other two reservists are Fiona Williamson, a secondary school teacher at Lasswade High School and lifelong learning and employability worker Chris Elliott.

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Councillor Smaill said:

“It is a real honour to hear more about the vital role our reserves play in emergencies and during threats to national security. Meeting Grant was absolutely fascinating. His active service was awe inspiring, as were his collection of well-deserved medals.

“During Armed Forces Week and Army Reserves Day, it is very important to acknowledge the debt we owe people like Grant.“

To mark the start of Armed Forces Week, the provost will also be attending the annual flag raising ceremony at Penicuik Town Hall on Monday 25 June.

The Army Reserve is the largest of the Reserve Forces. As well as Regular Reserves, who have previously served in the army, people can be Volunteer Reserves. According to MOD statistics, in October 2017 reserves made up about one sixth of armed forces personnel.

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Fiona is a reservist with 51 Coy, part of 5 MI Battalion, based in Edinburgh. She is an Operator Military Intelligence (OPMI) soldier which means her job is to gather, analyse, and interpret information. The intelligence helps commanders to make decisions at all levels. The Corps motto is “Manui Dat Cognitio Vires” meaning “knowledge gives strength to the arm” which fits in well with her day job as a secondary teacher.

She currently teaches Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies (RMPS) at Lasswade High school. She spent a year working full time with the Army, and met her husband who is a Regular Int Corps soldier, while training during her summer holidays one year. He has been into the school to talk to the pupils about how RMPS skills can transfer to the workplace. Both jobs are varied and very fulfilling. She says she loves them equally and being able to serve both her country and the community.

Lifelong learning and employability worker Chris Elliott is with 612 Squadron, RAF Medical Reserves at Leuchars. Chris says a lot of the skills developed in the reserves, are directly transferable to his day to day work within the council.

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Categories: Community News

Record number of pupils in jobs, further education and training

Tue, 19/06/2018 - 10:15

A total of 94.4% of school leavers in Midlothian are in a sustained positive destination, such as a job, further education or training, according to new figures published today.

This is the council’s highest recorded figure to date. It is up on last year’s figures and shows a 6.4% improvement over the last 5 years.

The figures, collated by the national skills body, Skills Development Scotland, show that nationally, 92.9% of school leavers are in a positive destination.

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Councillor Jim Muirhead, Midlothian’s Cabinet Member for Education, said:

“Since 2012 I am delighted to say we have managed to sustain the numbers of young people maintaining their positive destination from leaving school”

“Our ambition is to see all of school leavers go onto a positive destination.

“Numerous initiatives are in place to support young people. For example, we work with the Regional ‘Developing Young Workforce’ Group of the chambers of commerce to run an annual jobs road show in Midlothian . This event attracts more than 400 pupils from all our high schools to meet up with 30 recruiting businesses and our school breakfasts with business representatives.”

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Councillor Muirhead urged every young person who has left school but feels in need of extra support to get in touch. He said:

“You can either phone the council’s Lifelong Learning and Employability Service 0131 271 3923/3450 or get in touch with Skills Development Scotland on 0800 917 8000.”

The figures are collated in March 2018 and relate to pupils leaving in the 2016/17 academic year. The sustained figures therefore show the percentage of pupils still in a positive destination nine months after that academic school year ends the previous June.

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Categories: Community News

Call to extend Borders Railway to Carlisle

Mon, 18/06/2018 - 15:41

Today politicians from both Westminster and Holyrood have addressed the Borderlands Conference in Dumfries, where people from across the South of Scotland and North of England have met to discuss the impact that a Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal could have on the economy either side of the border.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) insists that there must be a clear focus on infrastructure and communications improvements as well as direct representation of the interests of small businesses. In particular, the FSB is calling for the successful Borders Railway to be extended to Carlisle.

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Hans Waltl, FSB Leader in the Scottish Borders, said:

“Businesses in the Borders have high hopes for the Borderlands growth deal and it is up to the politicians to ensure that these expectations are fulfilled. In particular, we expect the foundations to be put in place for transformational projects such as the extension of the Borders Railway through Hawick to Carlisle. This would open up new economic possibilities for our region and foster even greater levels of cross-border activity, linking better with the West Coast Main Line and the new planned passenger services at Carlisle Airport.

“Alongside this, plans by both Transport Scotland and Highways England to upgrade the A1 to dual carriageway status between Edinburgh and Newcastle should be prioritised for funding; linking the eastern Borders better with nearby city economies. Bolstering the wider Borders economy should be investment in world class digital infrastructure to ensure that our businesses are able to compete in an increasingly global marketplace.

“With 94% of businesses in the Borders being micro or small businesses, it will also be important for the new growth deal to put these businesses at the heart of its work through the appointment of a small business champion. As the politicians hammer out the shape of the Borderlands deal, they must be ambitious for our local businesses.”

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Categories: Community News