Weather warning as snow and ice set to hit west of Scotland

A yellow warning has been issued for the Western Isles, Borders and Strathclyde on Saturday.

Snow: More wintry weather expected over the weekend. Carlos G. Lopez via Getty Images
Snow: More wintry weather expected over the weekend.

Parts of the Western Isles, Borders and Strathclyde will be hit by snow and ice after a yellow weather warning was issued. 

The Met Office issued the yellow warning on Saturday morning, with wintry weather set to continue until 10pm. 

Meanwhile a yellow warning for ice has been put in place for the rest of the country from 9pm until Sunday evening. 

A band of sleet, rain and snow is expected to hit the west, with a warning for strong winds on Sunday also issued.

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It follows a week of heavy snow across the country, with temperatures dropping as low as -23C in Braemar on Wednesday night, the lowest in the UK since 1995.

The “extreme freeze” also saw the mercury plummet elsewhere, with the likes of Kinbrace and Strathallan recording -21.3C and -18.2C respectively.

Fifteen weather stations across the UK also recorded their lowest-ever temperatures for February overnight on Wednesday.

STV weather presenter Philip Petrie said: “”Over the past few days we have continued to see a lot of weather warnings around for snow and ice, but for many it has remained relatively settled – we saw the worst of the snow falling last week and the start of this week with things remaining fairly settled the past couple of days but freezing cold out and about.

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“The weather warnings continue over the weekend – today we see a warning for snow and ice across western parts of the country as a band of rain, sleet and snow begins to move in.

“Initially it could bring further snow to lower levels, with between 2-7cm of fresh snow on the hills. Later on, as the milder air moves in, the snow becomes confined mostly to higher ground, and turns to rain at lower levels.

“However as the rain hits the already frozen ground we have it could cause icy patches to form – causing tricky travel conditions on untreated surfaces. 

“Also on Saturday night we have a wider weather warning for Ice covering the rest of the country – we will see sporadic freezing rain across the country which is rain that turns instantly to ice as it hits frozen ground.

“There is a higher risk of this through the early hours of Sunday but as the milder air pushes in from the west overnight and throughout Sunday the risk of ice becomes confined to the south and east and on higher ground. 

“With this frontal system moving in through Saturday, overnight and through Sunday, it brings with it a strong south-easterly wind. So a yellow weather warning for wind has been issued affecting western parts of the country for most of Sunday.

“Winds could reach gusts of between 60-70mph around the Inner and Outer Hebrides, strengthening further later on to 65-75mph and then easing towards the end of the day. 

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“As always everyone should take care when heading out and about when there are weather warnings in place, and travel only if necessary and with caution on untreated roads and surfaces.”


Education: The lessons that must be learned after election

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

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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.

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“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?

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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.

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“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?

SNP

  • 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.


Bay City Rollers star Les McKeown dies suddenly aged 65

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

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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.

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The Bay City Rollers in 1978.
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“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.

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“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.

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“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.

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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.


‘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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.”


Police dog ‘found Emma Fauld’s body in remote forest’

Prosecutors allege Ross Willox, 41, murdered Emma Faulds, 39, at Fairfield Park in Monkton, Ayrshire, in 2019.

Police Scotland
Murder trial: Emma Faulds was found dead in June 2019.

A police officer told a murder trial how he found the body of missing 39-year-old Emma Faulds in a remote forest area.

Detective constable Ben Pacholek was giving evidence at the trial of Ross Willox who denies murdering Ms Faulds at his home at Fairfield Park, Monkton, Ayrshire, on April 28, 2019, by means unknown.

Prosecutors allege 41-year-old Willox dumped the youth worker’s naked body in Glentrool Forest, Dumfriesshire.

Dog handler DC Pacholek was part of a massive police operation that was involved in searching forest areas in Dumfriesshire for Emma who was reported missing on April 30, 2019.

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DC Pacholek said his dog Bear, who was specially trained to find dead bodies, began barking which indicated he had found something.

He took Bear back to the police van and then returned to the spot to investigate further after putting on sterile gloves.

Mr Kearney said: “What did you see”, and the officer replied: “A right foot.”

DC Pacholek said: “I lifted the vegetation to see if it was a body part or torso. I could see the lower portion of a naked body.”

Mr Kearney asked: “You had been searching for many days what did you think you and Bear had achieved,” and the officer, in a voice breaking with emotion, replied: “That we had done what we set out to do and we found her.”

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The prosecutor then said: “Emma Faulds,” and the police officer agreed.

The court heard that DC Pacholek reported the find to his superior officer and the site was cordoned off.

He and Bear joined the search on May 21, 2019 and by June 12, 2019 he estimated that he they had walked over 200 miles.

When asked by prosecutor Paul Kearney why that area in Glentrool Forest had been chosen to search DC Pacholek replied: “The accused had some involvement in working on a wind farm nearby.”

Mr Kearney said: “It was known that Ross Willox had previously worked on wind farms in the Galloway area,” and he replied: “Yes.”

The prosecutor then said: “Were the searches intelligence led and the policeman replied: “Absolutely.”

Defence QC Donald Findlay asked the officer: “Is there a wind farm anywhere near the deposition site,” and he replied: “No.”

When asked where the nearest wind farm to the stop where Emma’s body was found, he replied: “Less than ten miles away perhaps.”

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Willox denies all the charges against him.

The trial before judge Lord Mulholland continues.


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.

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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.

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“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.

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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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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.

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“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.

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“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 givergy.uk/StarBootSale.


University team wins funding to develop robot technologies

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

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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“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.”


Recycling centre closed as police probe unidentified item

Officers are attending incident at Seafield Recycling Centre following reports of unidentified item on the premises.

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Police are attending incident at recycling centre in Edinburgh.

A recycling centre in Edinburgh has been closed while police investigate an unidentified item on the premises.

Officers are currently at the scene of Seafield Recycling Centre in the capital.

Edinburgh City Council is asking people with appointments at the centre on Thursday morning to reschedule.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Officers are currently in attendance at a recycling centre in Seafield, Edinburgh, following a report of a unidentified item being found.

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“A cordon is in place while specialist teams attend to assess the item.”

Edinburgh City Council leader Adam McVey said: “Seafield HWRC is currently closed due to an ongoing incident and the need to ensure the safety of site users and our own staff.

“We’re working with Police Scotland and will provide updates on our social media channels as soon as possible.

“Customers who had appointments booked are being contacted directly to allow them to arrange new appointments.”

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