Sturgeon: Quarantine hotel plans do not go far enough

The First Minister has called for a 'comprehensive system of supervised quarantine'.

Quarantine: Some travellers will have to self-isolate in hotels. Hollie Adams / Stringer via Getty Images
Quarantine: Some travellers will have to self-isolate in hotels.

Nicola Sturgeon has said the Prime Minister’s plans for some travellers to quarantine after arriving in the UK do not go far enough.

Boris Johnson has set out measures to prevent the arrival of new strains of coronavirus into the UK, including plans for a ten-day quarantine in hotels or other Government-provided accommodation for travellers from high-risk countries.

The move will initially cover countries which are already subject to a travel ban due to concern over mutant strains, including South Africa, Portugal and South American nations.

But following a call with members of the UK, Welsh, and Northern Irish governments about the plan, Ms Sturgeon criticised the “minimal” proposals and said they leave “far too many weak points and gaps” for Covid-19 and any variants of the virus to enter the country.


Speaking about the Prime Minister’s proposal, the Scottish First Minister said: “It’s probably the least that could be done on the issue of supervised quarantine.”

She said Scotland could diverge from a UK-wide approach to travel restrictions if the Westminster Government does not “go further”.

Speaking at her coronavirus briefing prior to Mr Johnson’s announcement of the new measures, Ms Sturgeon said: “I think I do have a duty at this point to say that I am concerned that the proposal does not go far enough and I’ve made that point very strongly in the four-nations discussions that we’ve just had today.

“So while the Scottish Government will initially emulate the UK Government’s steps on enhancing quarantine arrangements, we will be seeking urgently to persuade them to go much further and indeed to move to a comprehensive system of supervised quarantine.


“Given the obvious practical issues involved, we are very clear that our preference is to have consistent quarantine rules across the UK, but if there is no agreement to go further on a four-nations basis, we will be considering going further ourselves and we will set out any such additional measures next week.

“If you impose [quarantine measures] purely for the countries where there is a travel ban in place, the very fact that there is already a travel ban in place tells you you’re going to be reaching very, very small numbers of people because nobody should be travelling from these countries even for essential purposes already.

“And if you focus just on countries with a variant has been identified – South Africa, or countries where it is known to have been identified – then you possibly miss countries where it has already travelled to but hasn’t yet been identified.

“When you’re trying to stop a virus getting into the country and, in particular, stop new variants getting into the country, you really have to have as comprehensive a protective ring as possible because the virus will find the holes in the net and it will get through the holes in the net.”

“We will try to encourage a four-nations approach that goes much further – much further.

“If we can’t reach that or we can’t reach that quickly enough, we will consider what it is practical for us to do it ourselves and we will set that out in the coming days.”

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Johnson said passengers arriving from red-list countries will be “met at the airport and transported directly into quarantine”.


Setting out more details of the measures, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Despite the stay-at-home regulations we are still seeing people not complying with these rules.

“The rules are clear, people should be staying at home unless they have a valid reason to leave.

“Going on holiday is not a valid reason, so we will introduce a new requirement so that people wishing to travel must first make a declaration as to why they need to travel.

“This reason for travel will be checked by carriers prior to departure.”

Travel operators are expected to face fines if they fail to inspect these forms.

Education: The lessons that must be learned after election

Teachers and pupils on the key issues facing education ahead of the Holyrood election.

STV News

Justine Milne has been on one-year contracts since graduating from teacher training in 2018.

Every time the summer holidays roll around, she is left without a job and has to rely on supply work until another fixed-term position becomes available.

She’s currently working in a Covid recovery role as a physical education teacher, however the funding ends in June and once again she’ll be unemployed.

“There’s not enough jobs for people to get into the profession and get a permanent post,” Justine says.


“All the political parties are saying we’ll recruit this amount of teachers, but it’s not about recruiting more teachers.

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Justine Milne

“There’s plenty of us sitting here. It’s a case of finding a way to make them permanent positions.

“We want them to push for smaller class sizes. That would then increase permanent posts for people, and help with the Covid recovery and closing the attainment gap.”

Education is a key issue in the Holyrood election campaign as parties set out how they propose to support pupils and teachers who have spent long spells out of the classroom.

What do the numbers tell us?


Figures show the number of probationary teachers going into temporary contracts is at its highest level since 2007.

In 2019-20, 1404 probationary teachers went into fixed-term jobs – up from 972 the year before, a 44% increase.

Justine is one of more than 1700 staff who wrote an open letter saying they are unable to secure permanent work because of local authority policy and practices.

They highlighted that the majority of the 1400 posts created with Covid-19 funding were due to end in June and said fewer posts were being advertised at a time when pupils needed the most support.

Unions have warned that councils are unwilling to create permanent posts using temporary Covid funding.

They say one in 10 teachers is on a temporary contract with the frustration driving many from the profession.

‘I might have to walk away’

Justine is among those losing patience.


“If I’m in this position again next year, going on to my fourth year of it, I think I’m going to have to walk away,” she says.

“It’s so stressful. It’s so worrying. It gets you to the point where you just want to cry about it.

“You’ve got no stability in life whatsoever. You can’t try and think about the future because you have no idea where you’re going to be.”

For pupils, the end of the Easter holidays meant a full return to the classroom for the first time since Christmas.

“It’s been difficult being at home, trying to motivate yourself and keep going, but being back at school is good,” says sixth-year pupil Innes.

Senior pupils are facing a second consecutive year without sitting exams, so grades will be determined by teacher judgement and backed up by evidence.

The approach varies across schools, with some complaining assessments are formal exams by another name.

The confusion has led to calls for reform of the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) to ensure greater transparency and accountability.

The SQA says it has made it clear that there is no requirement to replicate full formal exam or prelims.

What do pupils think?

Gabby: “It’s not based on one or two exams, it’s based on your overall performance of the whole year so the teachers get to see you and you can do monthly tests.”

Amelia: “I tend to get really anxious and nervous. I think it’s such a good opportunity to get a better grade that you could actually use in the future.”

Kyle: “I think it’s a better system than last year. We’ve been more prepared for it, so I think it will be a bit more fair on the pupils.”

Closing the gap

The pandemic has also laid bare inequalities; Audit Scotland recently found the gap between the achievements of the least and most well-off pupils remains wide.

Many teachers feel a gulf has opened between them and policymakers when it comes to helping the most disadvantaged pupils.

Teacher Zem Chefeke says: “If pupils feel that their wellbeing has been taken care of, if they feel safe in our classrooms and our schools, if their mental health is something that we value and take seriously and we work to address that, then the attainment will come.

“But we’re not being asked that, and even if we are being asked, it doesn’t seem that what we are asking is being put in place.”

A survey of more than 2000 teachers on a support group agreed the focus should be on teacher numbers.

Nuzhat Uthmani was among those who carried out the survey.

“The number one priority, said 66 per cent of respondents, is smaller class sizes above anything else that we really need to make an impact on our teaching and learning experiences both for staff and for pupils.”

Smaller classes and more jobs creates an “opportunity to build something better” after the election, says teacher Gemma Clark.

She adds: “There are thousands of teachers who are on zero-hours contracts that could be given jobs and there are also student teachers who have been left in a difficult position who have been told they haven’t completed enough placement time because of the pandemic to be allowed to qualify.”

What are the parties pledging?


  • Invest £1bn over the next parliament to close the school attainment gap;
  • Recruit additional 3500 teachers and classroom assistants

Scottish Conservatives

  • Recruit 3000 more teachers;
  • Set up a £35m national tutoring programme

Scottish Labour

  • Provide every pupil with a personal comeback plan;
  • Scrap national standardised assessments.

Scottish Greens

  • Recruit 5500 additional permanent teachers;
  • Reform the SQA and Education Scotland.

Scottish Liberal Democrats

  • Guarantee every qualified teacher a job to cut class sizes;
  • Minimum teacher starting salary of £30,000.

Human-to-cat Covid-19 transmission identified by scientists

Scientists from the University of Glasgow found two cases of the virus in cats.

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The cats displayed mild to severe respiratory signs.

Two cases of human-to-cat transmission of Covid-19 have been identified by researchers.

Scientists from the University of Glasgow found the cases of SARS-CoV-2 transmission as part of a screening programme of the feline population in the UK.

The cats, of different breeds, were living in separate households and displayed mild to severe respiratory signs.

Researchers believe both pets were infected by their owners, who had Covid-19 symptoms before the cats became unwell.


The study, published in the Veterinary Record, said there is currently no evidence of cat-to-human transmission or that cats, dogs or other domestic animals play any appreciable role in the epidemiology of human Covid infections.

But the scientists said domestic animals could potentially act as a “viral reservoir” allowing continued transmission, and said it is important to improve understanding of whether pets can play a role in infecting humans.

Professor Margaret Hosie, from the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research and lead author of the study, said: “These two cases of human-to-animal transmission, found in the feline population in the UK, demonstrate why it is important that we improve our understanding of animal SARS-CoV-2 infection.

“Currently, animal-to-human transmission represents a relatively low risk to public health in areas where human-to-human transmission remains high.


“However as human cases decrease, the prospect of transmission among animals becomes increasingly important as a potential source of SARS-CoV-2 reintroduction to humans.

“It is therefore important to improve our understanding of whether exposed animals could play any role in transmission.”

Researchers at the centre worked in partnership with the Veterinary Diagnostic Service (VDS) at the university’s School of Veterinary Medicine on the study.

The first cat was a four-month-old female Ragdoll kitten from a household in which the owner developed symptoms that were consistent with SARS-CoV-2 infection at the end of March 2020, although they were not tested.

The kitten was taken to a vet with breathing difficulties in April 2020 but its condition deteriorated and it later had to be put down.

Post-mortem lung samples revealed damage consistent with a viral pneumonia and there was evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The second cat was a six-year-old female Siamese from a household where one owner tested positive for Covid-19.


The cat was taken to the vet with nasal discharge and conjunctivitis, but its symptoms remained mild and the cat later recovered.

Covid-19 infection was confirmed in a retrospective survey of swabs submitted to VDS between March and July 2020 for routine pathogen testing.

Scientists believe the two cases are likely to be an underestimate of the true frequency of human-to-animal transmission, as animal testing is limited.

It is not known whether cats with Covid-19 could naturally transmit the virus to other animals, or back to humans.

Since the pandemic began there have been reports of cats from Covid-positive households in countries including Hong Kong, Belgium, the USA, France and Spain that tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and were presumed to be infected from their owners.

Professor James Wood, head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge, said: “These are important and interesting findings, adding to the body of evidence that humans can infect their pets, in some cases, as here, leading to clinical disease in the animals.

“Cats and dogs have been reported to be infected. This is a high quality study, including whole genome sequencing to confirm transmission links.”

The study was funded by the Wellcome ISSF Covid Response Fund and supported by the Medical Research Council.

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SNP candidate: Scotland-England border could create jobs

Emma Harper - standing in West Dumfries and Galloway - says 'we want the softest of borders' in an independent Scotland.

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SNP candidate suggested erecting 'the softest of borders' with England could create jobs.

An SNP candidate has suggested erecting “the softest of borders” with England could create jobs in an independent Scotland.

Emma Harper, an MSP in the last parliament who is standing for the nationalist party in West Dumfries and Galloway, said that “we can show that a border will work”.

In an interview with ITV Border’s Representing Border programme on Thursday evening, Harper said: “We’ve already got a hard border in the Irish Sea and that’s something that Boris Johnson told us we were not going to have.”

She was asked: “So why add another one here?”


Harper replied: “If a border will work, we can show that a border will work.

“There are issues that have been brought to my attention that show that jobs can be created if a border is created.

“And again, we want the softest of borders.”

The Scottish Conservatives said in a statement: “This half-witted nonsense would be laughable if it wasn’t so irresponsible.


“A hard border would risk the hundreds of thousands of Scottish jobs that rely on the UK market.”

An SNP spokesman said: “Independence is about getting rid of governments that Scotland doesn’t vote for – not putting up barriers.

“The Tories are the party that put a border in the Irish Sea, and between Scotland and the European Single Market, which is seven times the size of the UK.

“It’s not the SNP that is proposing borders – and as an independent member of the EU, unlike now, people would benefit from freedom of movement both with the rest of the UK and the EU.

“It is Boris Johnson’s disastrous hard Brexit that will hold back recovery and as Emma Harper said we want trade between Scotland and the rest of the UK to be as seamless as possible.”

The Scotland in Union campaign group criticised Harper’s comments as “absurd”.

Its chief executive Pamela Nash said: “This is an absurd comment and shows how little the SNP cares about people’s livelihoods.


“A border with England, which is inevitable under the SNP’s plans for separation, would be catastrophic for trade.

“It would also build barriers between families and friends.”

‘Bold and ambitious’ action to tackle child poverty urged

The report says 240,000 children – one in four youngsters – are living in poverty.

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Child poverty: 'Bold' action needed.

Scotland’s political leaders are being challenged to set out how they will meet targets to cut child poverty, as one expert insisted it is clear current action “is not enough”.

John McKendrick, a professor of social justice at Glasgow Caledonian University, was speaking as a new report he was lead editor for was published.

It reveals in “stark terms the scale of poverty” in Scotland – with more than one million people suffering.

The Poverty in Scotland 2021 report adds 240,000 children – one in four youngsters – are living in poverty.


It warned the Covid-19 crisis has “exacerbated levels of poverty” and fundamental change is needed to address the problem, “including the more ambitious use of Scotland’s tax powers”.

The report was produced by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, the Poverty Alliance, and academics from Glasgow Caledonian and Heriot-Watt universities.

All parties at Holyrood have backed legislation to ensure less than 18% of children are living in poverty by 2023-24, and 10% by the end of the decade.

To achieve that target, the report urges politicians to be “more ambitious” when using Scotland’s tax powers.


It also calls for links between spending decisions in the Scottish budget and their impact on poverty to be clearer.

Further recommendations include a call for politicians to focus more on improving pay and job security, especially for young people, women and black and ethnic minority workers.

The report demands that the Scottish Child Payment, which is given to low-income families, is doubled to £20 a week – a move the SNP and some other parties have already committed to.

CPAG Scotland director John Dickie said: “With less than two weeks until the election, this report sets out in stark terms the scale of poverty that still exits across Scotland, but also contains a range of positive solutions that we urge all those elected to the new Parliament to act on.

“All the Holyrood parties committed to ensure that fewer than 18% of our children are living in poverty by 2024, and that less than one in 10 of our children are living in poverty by 2030.

“With one in four children still in poverty, the challenge to them now is to tell us how they will meet that target. Struggling families deserve nothing less.”

Prof McKendrick added: “The last Parliament made an historic commitment to eradicate child poverty by 2030. The next government must build on the foundation that has been laid and extend the actions that have already been introduced to deliver on this commitment.


“The evidence is unequivocal – what we are currently doing is not enough. Scotland’s children now need bold and ambitious action to deliver on promise and aspiration.

“If our prospective politicians are not able to deliver a programme for government that would eradicate poverty, then they are not the ones that Scotland needs.”

Linda Craik, an activist with direct experience of poverty, said there are “many issues and stumbling blocks that currently trap people in poverty in Scotland”.

She added: “As a member of End Poverty Edinburgh, a group of citizens formed to raise awareness of poverty to hold the city to account, it is crucial that the voices of people with lived experience of poverty are at the heart of policy decision making.

“It is only through the sharing of our experiences and our direct involvement in the decisions that affect us that we can stem rising poverty.”

Calls to recognise Ben Nevis as Scotland’s national mountain

The Nevis Landscape Partnership says funding is needing to support the growing popularity of the mountain.

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Recognition: Charity says funds are needed to support mountain's popularity.

Ben Nevis should be officially recognised as Scotland’s national mountain, according to the charity which looks after the iconic landmark.

Standing 1345m tall, Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the UK and attracts more than 400,000 visitors each year.

But the Nevis Landscape Partnership has issued a warning over the long-term future of the beauty spot without funding to support the growing popularity of the mountain.

The mountain was first officially conquered in 1771 by Edinburgh botanist James Robertson, but visitor numbers have doubled in the last 20 years.


Areas designated as national parks – such as, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and Cairngorms – receive government support to promote access and care for the area.

But the Nevis area does not receive such help as it’s not officially recognised.

The charity has now called for the mountain and surrounding glen to receive national recognition and financial support to help preserve the local environment.

Nevis Landscape Partnership chair Mike Pescod, said: “We are blessed in Scotland with abundant natural resources to rival the best in the world, and it is clear that the Scottish Government recognises that we have a duty to protect and enhance these assets as essential to our economy, culture, way of life and the well-being of future generations.


“However, for the Nevis area this is a critical moment.

“If we are to continue to welcome everyone who wants to explore the Nevis area and take advantage of the well-understood benefits to health and well-being, we need to have a long-term structure in place that will care for our visitors as well as for the landscape and the nature that thrives in it.

“We need to develop a framework for a move towards a carbon-neutral circular economy which directs funds raised from visitors to Ben Nevis and Glen Nevis into visitor and environmental management of the Nevis area.”

Work to increase provisions in the area has already begun – including establishing a new car park with toilets and other facilities.

But many of the charity’s bigger plans depend on further funding.

Mr Pescod said: “Ben Nevis and Glen Nevis benefits people, our local communities, it drives our visitor economy and plays an important role in reaching CO2 and global warming targets.

“However, to ensure the Nevis area can be sustainably enjoyed by future generations we need to put in place new, secure, long-term resources to care for this unique national landscape.


“At the same time we must also be aware that Glen Nevis has internationally acclaimed cultural and natural heritage assets.

“In balancing economic drivers we must be careful not to detract from the very qualities which make Ben Nevis and Glen Nevis a unique place to live and to visit.

“We believe that, as well as national parks, there should be a companion designation for specific and discreet areas of national importance with direct access to Scottish Government funding.

“It is time to recognise Ben Nevis as Scotland’s national mountain, with the beautiful Glen Nevis at its feet.”

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Bay City Rollers star Les McKeown dies suddenly aged 65

The Edinburgh-born singer died suddenly at his home on Tuesday.

Jane Barlow via PA Ready
Bay City Rollers: Les McKeown has died suddenly at home.

Singer Les McKeown of Bay City Rollers fame has died aged 65.

The Edinburgh-born star’s wife and daughter told fans he died suddenly at his home on Tuesday.

In a statement released on his Facebook page on Thursday, his family wrote: “It is with profound sadness that we announce the death of our beloved husband and father Leslie Richard McKeown.

“Leslie died suddenly at home on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. We are currently making arrangements for his funeral.

Michael Ochs via Getty Images
The Bay City Rollers in 1978.

“We thank you and ask for privacy after the shock of our profound loss. Thank you. Keiko and Jubei McKeown.”

He was the lead singer of the tartan-clad pop-band during their most successful era in the mid-70s when they found worldwide fame with hits such as Shang-A-Lang and Saturday Night.

After hearing the news, Bay City Rollers guitarist Stuart ‘Woody’ Wood told the Daily Record: “I am upset and shocked to hear this very sad news.


“Les and I had our differences over the years but even though we had disagreements we are sending our heartfelt condolences to Peko wife and his son Jubie and all the Bay City Rollers Fans. It’s a sad day in Bay City Roller history.


“He was a great performer on stage and he was full of energy. I was roadying when Les first came into the band and I saw his first gig when he took over from Nobby Clark and injected new life into the band.”

Scottish songwriter John McLaughlin wrote: “Devastated that Les McKeown, the iconic frontman of the #BayCityRollers has sadly passed away.

“Les became a a good friend over the last few years and was truly great fun to be around. I will miss him. My thoughts are with Peko and the family at this sad time.”

The Rollers had a massive teen following and sold more than 100 million records, and in the press were heralded as “biggest group since the Beatles”.

The news comes three-years after the death of bandmate Alan Longmuir who died aged 70 in the summer of 2018.

Alongside McKeown and Longmuir, the classic line-up also included guitarists Eric Faulkner and Stuart Wood, with Longmuir’s younger brother Derek on drums.

McKeown, Longmuir and Wood reunited for a comeback tour in 2015 with tickets selling out in minutes.


Judy Murray was among those paying tribute.

Posting on Twitter alongside a picture of her with McKeown she wrote “Bye bye baby”.

And Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh wrote “RIP Les” with a picture of McKeown in his Bay City Rollers heyday.

Charity sale to feature items from Andy Murray and Beyonce

A Wimbledon Champion Montage has been donated by Murray, alongside trainers by former Oasis star Noel Gallagher.

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Andy Murray: Signed champions montage on sale for charity.

More than 50 items from celebrities including Andy Murray, Beyonce, Noel Gallagher and Vicky McClure are being sold in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust.

A dress worn by McClure in Line Of Duty, a bag signed by Beyonce and her Destiny’s Child bandmates and an amp signed by Queen guitarist Brian May are among the items being sold.

The Who have also donated a signed tin of Heinz baked beans, while trainers belonging to former Oasis star Gallagher and signed Andy Murray Wimbledon Champion Montage will also be on sale.

McClure said: “I am such a proud ambassador of Teenage Cancer Trust that when I heard about the Star Boot Sale, I was more than happy to donate.


“The dress I have given is the only one Kate Fleming has ever worn in Line Of Duty, when she was presented with an award at the end of series three, so it’s a real part of the show’s heritage.”

She added: “Teenage Cancer Trust nurses and youth teams are absolute heroes and have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic to support young people with cancer.

“But everything the charity does is reliant on being able to raise money, so get on to the auction and get bidding so they can keep doing great work.”

The Who frontman and honorary patron of the Teenage Cancer Trust Roger Daltrey said: “Young people with cancer are particularly at risk from coronavirus.


“And right now, Teenage Cancer Trust-funded nurses and support teams are going above and beyond to provide the care they need at a time when healthcare services are under huge pressure.

“They are amazing people – but not many people realise that their work is completely reliant on fundraised income and donations.

“So please get involved in this new fundraiser if you can.

“Our friends from across the entertainment industry have searched their cupboards and donated some great stuff and remember every penny raised will make a difference.”

The online auction and raffle runs from Friday to May 6 at 8pm.

To view the full list of auction items in the Star Boot Sale, visit

University team wins funding to develop robot technologies

The National Robotarium will develop advanced tools allowing robots to replace humans in hazardous surroundings.

© Google Maps 2020
Heriot Watt: Funding to develop robot technologies.

A leading robotics research centre at a Scottish university has been awarded funding to develop technology for underwater bomb disposal and dismantling nuclear material.

The National Robotarium, based at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, will develop advanced tools allowing robots to replace humans in hazardous surroundings.

It will collaborate with Sheffield-based Cyberselves and the Cumbria-headquartered Resolve Robotics in developing communication systems to improve human command over robots operating in extreme environments.

A key element of the project will see the development of more advanced “haptic” technology, giving the human pilot a heightened experience of the underwater depths through touch, motion, vibration and temperature feedback.


The team is sharing a pot of £800,000 with 11 other projects in a programme managed by the UK Government’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA).

The organisation focuses on innovation and is part of the Ministry of Defence.

Professor Yvan Petillot, from the National Robotarium, said: “As a world-leading facility that promotes removing humans from hazardous work environments, this collaboration will draw upon the world-class talent of the staff at Heriot-Watt University in marine robotics and computer vision.

“We will accelerate research from laboratory to market, paving the way for the UK to take a leadership role in telexistence technologies.


“Our academic team will integrate new solutions for underwater telepresence and manipulation on small to medium remotely-operated underwater vehicles for remote intervention.”

Emily Tithecott, DASA associate delivery manager, said: “This competition gives us a real buzz, we are seeing more Government departments teaming together to fund innovations and this ensures many different sectors benefit from the adapted technologies.

“The funded projects will develop ideas in the latest remote operating, including: kinematic mapping, virtual reality, haptics, robotics, and telepresence.”

Pupils ‘would benefit’ from thinking like Da Vinci

Educationalists from Edinburgh University say children would benefit from science and the arts being taught together.

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Edinburgh University: Science and the arts 'should be taught together'.

Teaching schoolchildren to think like Leonardo Da Vinci could help them to tackle the climate crisis, researchers have suggested.

Educationalists from Cambridge University and Edinburgh University say children would benefit from science and the arts being taught together instead of in subject silos.

They say this could be done around themes such as climate change or food security.

The model draws inspiration from Renaissance polymaths like Da Vinci, who worked across disciplinary boundaries in pursuit of deeper knowledge.


An academic paper, published in the journal Curriculum Perspectives, cites a case study at an Aberdeen primary school, where children showed a deeper understanding of food security and environmental protection issues after learning to grow food in their school grounds.

Pam Burnard, professor of arts, creativities and education at the University of Cambridge, said: “If we look at the amazing designs that Da Vinci produced, it’s clear he was combining different disciplines to advance knowledge and solve problems.

“We need to encourage children to think in a similar way because tomorrow’s adults will have to problem-solve differently due to the existential crises they will face: especially those of climate, sustainability, and the precarity of life on Earth.”

Dr Laura Colucci-Gray, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Education and Sport, said: “The nature of these problems calls for a radically different approach to knowledge.


“We are proposing a move from the idea of a curriculum as something children are just ‘given’ to a curriculum ‘in-the-making’, in response to transformations that will define their lives.”

In their alternative model, researchers suggest giving schools greater freedom to determine how to meet general study targets set by the curriculum.

Teachers and leadership teams would make collective decisions and share practices about how to engage pupils with unifying, cross-curricular themes, such as environmental sustainability.

Any attempt to reimagine education along transdisciplinary lines, with subjects being taught together, would require children’s attainment to be measured differently, the researchers noted.

Prof Burnard said: “It would require a system of testing which measures how children are internalising ideas and what they are expressing – not just what they know.

“That may be an uncomfortable idea for some, but it is the sort of radical thinking we need if education is going to prepare young people for the future.”

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