My Column

Vital to learn the lessons of lockdown.

  • Date: Monday 1st June 2020
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Now eleven weeks into lockdown, the isolation, school and venue closures and the ways we’ve had to adapt our behaviour have impacted our lives in ways we could never have imagined.

A few days ago Scots started tentatively taking steps out of lockdown but there are still so many unanswered questions.

A lot of those questions concern the education sector and what the changes mean for teachers, parents and pupils alike.

It looks like teachers will return to work in June to prepare for the new school term but pupils are not expected back until 11th August. But exactly what that will look like is unknown – it may be a staggered return with smaller classes and separate break times for example.

The latest from Glasgow City Council is that pupils may be in school for two days each week and work from home through assigned tasks, workbooks and virtual classes or assignments. So ‘group A’ would attend school Mondays and Tuesdays, a deep clean of the school would take place on Wednesdays and then ‘group B’ would attend classes Thursdays and Fridays.

North Lanarkshire Council is proposing a similar rotational model, with ‘group A’ attending classes for a full week, a deep clean over the weekend, then ‘group B’ swapping home learning to attend in-school classes for the following week.

On the surface it sounds like a good sensible approach, with smaller class sizes allowing social distancing and deep cleaning between groups.  But on a practical level how will this work for parents and their personal and work commitments?

We’ve never seen a model like this and it’s sure to cause childcare concerns, so businesses will need to be flexible if it’s to work.

Many companies out there already offer flexible working patterns, but this is flexible working on an enormous scale so employers will have a tougher task when it comes to meeting their business needs while making this work.

But quick changes are possible as lockdown has shown – many businesses have adapted well to remote working.

For employees however, juggling home-working and home-schooling or childcare is no mean feat. There’s been a lot of conversation around this in parliament and employers have had to consider provisions so as not to discriminate and to offer paid leave for childcare.

At the same time employers must also consider their wider workforce, so as not to discriminate. Will they, for example, allow employees without children to take advantage of any new flexible work initiatives introduced?

The best advice I can give businesses is that communication is key. Have a safe space for individuals to raise concerns and be open to creating flexible plans that balance everyone’s needs if you want to thrive and maintain a strong workforce.  It goes without saying your bottom line is a priority but ultimately a workforce that feels listened to and valued is key to success.

Teachers also face an immense challenge, and parents and pupils will be looking to them more than ever for guidance so they can take on the challenge of ‘blended schooling’, jumping between education in person and remotely.

This style of teaching is far from what they envisioned when they pursued a teaching career, but like businesses they too must adapt to this unprecedented situation.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) recently canvassed views on how the education system was handling change. More than 26,000 EIS members responded which makes this one of the biggest surveys of teachers’ opinions in Scotland.

It showed 58 per cent of teachers agree certain categories of pupils should be prioritised in a phased return to school, while only 23 per cent prefer a model based on universal access to provision (on a part-time basis).

Hopefully a general consensus will be reached so employers, teachers parents and youngsters alike can start preparing for whatever the ‘new normal’ is in education.




For the majority of us, the past few weeks have felt like we’re living inside a bubble.

But now lockdown measures have been eased and we can visit parks and outdoor spaces for a breath of fresh air, the grass is certainly looking greener (albeit a bit longer) on the other side.

And things are set to get even greener for the city of Dundee and the Scottish tourism sector as the great minds behind one of the UK’s most popular tourist attractions, The Eden Project, set their sights on Tayside for a debut Scotland site.

The original Eden Project in Cornwall is made up of gigantic bubble biomes housing some of the world’s most vibrant plant life. Since its opening in 2001 it has boosted the local economy to the tune of £2million.

If a Scottish project can do something similar it will be warmly welcomed and already environmental groups, local businesses and the Scottish Government have voiced their support.

It’s also refreshing to hear that the Dund-Eden Project won’t be a carbon copy of the original with chief executive David Harland citing they’re looking to ‘make a wonderfully creative exhibition of something with is unmistakably Dundee’ drawing from the city’s rich history and cultural impact. 

The project is also joining forces with Dundee City Council and the University of Dundee to provide educational and outreach schemes to help grow and cultivate our own budding talent.

With this latest announcement coming hot on the heels of the success story that is the V&A this will be another brilliant feather in Dundee’s cap when it comes to attracting tourists in future.

Laugh – 130 -  Brewdog

I didn’t see this hilarious marketing stunt coming…but for the record I didn’t drive 30 miles to a nearby tourist attraction to check my eyesYou didn’t need to drive 30 miles to a nearby tourist attraction to have seen this coming, but

Scottish craft beer giants BrewDog have once again placed tongue very firmly in cheek with the launch of their new Barnard Castle Eye Test IPA.

Clearly a nod to the recent events surrounding the Dominic Cummings controversy, the company says the limited edition beer was inspired by ‘the people’.

All proceeds will go towards its production of BrewGel, the free sanitiser which they have been creating for NHS workers and health care charities. 

BrewDog has always shown it has a sense of humour, and true to form the company has described the Barnard Castle Eye Test IPA as a ‘short sighted beer for tall stories’ which gave me a lockdown laugh.

While it’s a marketing stunt I didn’t see coming, for the record I haven’t driven to any nearby tourist attractions to check my eyes.



While everyone’s itching to dive back out to shops and garden centres, businesses which seem to be closed for the long haul include hairdressers and barbers.


It’s a stressful time for those in the industry and all they can do right now is start planning how they might carry out their services which social distancing once they reopen.

But not all are sticking to the rules, with a number of hairdressers and barbers being caught out running prohibition-era-style behind-the-scenes haircuts for customers.

In Glasgow, Police Scotland have spoken about some people breaching lockdown to deliver sough-after haircuts for customers, all resulting in fixed penalty.

I’ve heard many people express exasperation about their hair-raising, overgrown lockdown look but thankfully most are being sensible and aren’t selfishly breaking the rules in the interests of vanity.







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