Scottish Government Blogs

July 29, 2014
by Nicola Clark-Tonberg
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‘What do you say?’ PlayTalkRead #saythanks

Nicola Clark-Tonberg – Marketing Manager – Smarter

On hearing the question ‘What do you say?’, most of us will automatically say ‘thank you’. Even if it’s on receipt of a terrible festive jumper from Auntie Margaret.

That’s because our parents will have instilled in us as children the importance of saying thanks. Afterall, one of the best compliments a parent can have is that their child always remembers to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ – it’s a sign of being a ‘good parent’.

This certainly rang true during research PlayTalkRead undertook when planning our new campaign, encouraging parents to play, talk and read more with their children aged 0-3. ‘Start’, an emotive TV ad where a young man thanks his parents for playing, talking and reading with him growing up, chimed with the focus groups of mums, dads and carers who responded to the inspiring idea of a child telling a parent they did well. Continue Reading →

July 29, 2014
by Shona Robison
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Day Five

With only five days of competition completed Team Scotland has astounded everyone and equalled their best ever total medal haul in a Commonwealth Games.

It is something we were confident could be done, but to do it so early in the Games and in such incredible fashion is more than many of us dared to believe.

First we were celebrating alongside Alex Marshall and Paul Foster after they won Gold in the Lawn Bowl Pairs. Jennifer MacIntosh took bronze in the 50m Rifle Prone final at Barry Buddon.

Then as the evening sessions got underway Libby Clegg and her guide runner Mikail Huggins put in an amazing performance to dominate the 100m Para Sport T12.

Some of the action from the athletics


There were also strong performances in the men’s 50m Rifle Prone and the women’s Hammer Throw.

Ryan Bennett, Craig McNally, Hannah Miley, Camilla Hattersley, Ross Murdoch, Mark Tully, Joe Welstead then followed suit in the pool, but sadly missed out on the podium.

Tollcross has become such a lucky place for Team Scotland and for many spectators it will be the source of incredibly special memories.

Those experiences have been mirrored across Games’ venues.

Indeed, as Libby and Mikail said after the race, the crowds have really excelled in supporting the athletes and given them an extra lift. I saw for myself earlier in the week how the crowd at Ibrox took our Commonwealth cousins rugby sevens teams to their hearts.

All of the teams have been warmly welcomed and each person going along to the venues, any of the stages or events around the city such as Glasgow Green, has played a part in that.

So, here we sit going into Day Six with 13 Gold medals, 8 Silver and 12 Bronze.

We have some strong events to come, so hopefully Tuesday July 29, 2014 will be the day Scotland sets a new record performance in our long, proud history of competing in the  Commonwealth Games.

July 28, 2014
by Fiona Comrie
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New Chief Executive – recruitment

It’s a busy summer for Scotland and the Scottish Government, but, despite the many distractions of the wonderful Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the glorious weather across the country, the work on the new food body for Scotland continues apace. Another major milestone for the new food body has been reached, with the publication of the advert for the new Chief Executive of Food Standards Scotland.

It has been a great deal of work to create the job specification for the new Chief Exec, ensuring we have the process in place to recruit the very best candidate for this important role. The new CE will be a senior leader in a complex public sector organisation, working in partnership with the non-executive new food body Board. The role requires strong judgement, strategic leadership and change management skills.

For the head of the new food body, this is an opportunity to take the lead in setting its strategy, delivering consumer protection and making a real difference to public health.  The new Chief Executive will play a key role in establishing the new body’s standing, credibility and reputation within Scotland, and internationally.

The deadline for applications for the role is 18th August 2014.

For more details, please see the advert.

July 28, 2014
by Shona Robison
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Day Four

Beautiful knitted Scottie dog by ERIBE

It’s been another action packed day at Glasgow 2014 and I’m looking forward to the next seven days of competition, as the spotlight continues to shine on Scotland. Huge congratulations to yet more Scottish medal winners, bringing our total to a fantastic 30 – the achievement so far has been truly inspirational.

My day took in both sport and the cultural programme. An early highlight was meeting the Malawian sports minister, Hon Grace Obama Chiumia MP. This was a great chance to consolidate our special relationship and discuss sports initiatives already in place between our two countries, including through the SFA, as well as future opportunities for developing coaching capacity in Malawi.

The Marathon – one of the blue riband events in any sporting competition – really showcased Glasgow to the world, taking in sights around the city and concluding in the vibrant Glasgow Green. It was brilliant to see the endeavours of those endurance athletes, who were probably delighted with cooler weather to compete in.

What an atmosphere at the Glasgow Green Live Zone! I met an amazing group of Youth Legacy Ambassadors at the Young Scot installation. Part of its interactive element indulged green-fingered visitors – we created seedballs of native flowers, to be scattered in locations around Scotland. Can’t wait to see the results in my area! They’ve also been collecting legacy wishes for their impressive Highlander sculpture.  It was looking great yesterday and well on the way to completion. It’s heartening to see people so committed to creating a lasting legacy for Glasgow 2014.

I also caught up with the talented people at ERIBE – they’re crafting beautiful knits and running workshops for those of us who need a bit of instruction with the pins. Learned that the cardies worn by these famously clad Visit Scotland Shetland ponies are actually designed by ERIBE!

Loads of fun to watch aspiring sprinters pit themselves against Usain Bolt at the Race Bolt video challenge. I met a group of children from Braehead Primary in Ayr, who were certainly keen to give it a go! They’re involved with the Big Big Sing event – and well done to everyone who took part in that musical extravaganza.

I managed to catch some lawn bowls at Kelvingrove – sadly the Scottish Women’s Fours just missed out on a bronze but the our bowlers are still in with a chance of gold later today in the Men’s Pairs – so good luck to Paul Foster and Alex Marshall when they take on Malaysia.

It was a great privilege to see Aileen McGlynn and Louise Haston achieve a silver at the Velodrome, while Katie Archibald did superbly well to win bronze in the 25km points race. And back at Tollcross International Swim Centre, Team Scotland’s youngest ever member, 13 year old Erraid Davies from Shetland, raised the roof by wiping  four seconds off her previous best to win bronze. And another bronze picked up by Hannah Miley in the pool as well as a truly impressive silver from the Men’s 4 x 200 Freestyle Relay team – I can’t wait to see what else our amazing athletes can achieve over the coming week …

July 27, 2014
by Shona Robison
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Day Three

Supporting the Scottish judo team

Yesterday was another breathtaking day at the Games for Team Scotland. Our medal tally is now at 25, striking gold in cycling and judo to the delight and joy of the nation. Reaching a staggering 11 gold medals, we already have as many champions as at any other Commonwealth Games – after just three days of competition.

Huge congratulations to Neil Fachie and Craig MacLean, who rocketed to a second gold medal in the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome and of course the Scottish judo team are just on unstoppable form with another 3 gold medals from Euan Burton, Sarah Adlington and Christopher Sherrington.

Again, I’ve been lucky enough to catch some world class sport at venues around Glasgow. It was an absolute privilege to see Team Scotland’s flag bearer Euan Burton in action at the SECC. Our judokas have performed at such a high level and have contributed so much to the infectious positivity among our athletes, who are definitely spurring each other on to greater and greater achievements. In fact, Scottish judo has had its most successful outing at the Commonwealth Games ever, with 13 medals altogether.

It was also great to see some netball and the Rugby 7s, which has been hugely popular with over 185,000 tickets sold to the various sessions at Ibrox. After notching up wins over Barbados and Canada last night, Scotland will be in action again today as the competition moves into its final stages.

Wonderful to see pictures of the flotilla on the Clyde – the largest ever seen on the river with over 250 boats of all shapes and sizes sailing from Greenock to Glasgow to celebrate the Games. Yet another of the numerous events outside of the official sporting programme, but bringing families and communities together all along the River Clyde to really create a festival atmosphere.

With so much going on, it’s not surprising that this is proving to be the busiest weekend in Glasgow for years, with more than 600,000 visitors over the two days. And for those not able to get to the city itself, the television pictures appearing throughout the Commonwealth are certainly a super advertisement for Scotland and the vibrancy and colour we are bringing to the Games.



July 26, 2014
by Shona Robison
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Day Two

Quick selfie with members of the Youth Sports Panel at the Athletes' Village

As we begin the first full weekend of the Commonwealth Games, I’m very much looking forward to more success for our home-grown sporting talent after their blistering start to Glasgow 2014.

The second day of competition saw magnificent achievements by athletes from across the Commonwealth. And, of course, Team Scotland continue to have us all overflowing with pride, adding five more medals to the tally, which now totals 15.

I managed to see a wonderful variety of sport yesterday and was delighted to marvel at the grace of the rhythmic gymnastics at the SSE Hydro. The atmosphere in the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome was absolutely electric as Neil Fachie and Craig MacLean won gold. It was just tremendous to hear the crowd belting out Flower of Scotland; the emotion was palpable. I could tell it was pretty special for the cyclists’ families to see their victory on home turf.

I was also lucky enough to catch some of the judo yesterday evening. I was delighted to see Sarah Clark from Edinburgh scooping a gold medal at the SECC, consolidating what has been an absolutely fantastic streak of success for our judokas here at the Games. They’ve collected a stunning eight medals in the last two days of competition – an amazing achievement.

And, capping another Golden day for Scotland, swimmer Daniel Wallace roared to victory in the 400m medley, with his celebration splashed across the pages of today’s papers.

At the Athletes’ Village, and indeed around all the Games venues, the mood is wonderful. Spending time with members of the Youth Sport Panel at the UNICEF exhibition reminded me of the important role of young people in the legacy of this event. And it was great that the First Minister announced an extra £26k to support the excellent work carried out by the Young Scot Youth Legacy Ambassadors. I’ll be catching up with some of them on Sunday and look forward to learning what they’ve been up to – right across the country.

So far we’ve enjoyed beautiful weather, which has been the icing on the cake for the tens of thousands of visitors who’ve come to Scotland to experience a bit of the magic created by the Games. But, come rain or shine, I’m certain the warm Scottish welcome will continue for competitors and spectators alike.


July 25, 2014
by Shona Robison
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Day One

With all the expectation and anticipation, it was possible that day one of competition could have been overshadowed by the incredible global response to the opening ceremony.

But, as we go into Friday, Team Scotland joins 12 other teams on the medal table in what has been a truly golden day for our athletes and the Games, which I believe will be the best ever.

It was a real privilege to present Scotland’s first medal to Aileen McGlynn OBE and partner Louise Haston yesterday afternoon in the Para-sport Tandem Sprint.

And that was just the start of the brilliant achievements. Ten medals on day one – 4 gold, 3 silver and 3 bronze is a magnificent result and Ross Murdoch, Hannah Miley, Kimberley and Louise Rennicks’ smiles can be seen on the front pages of most of today’s newspapers.

Tollcross International Swimming Centre

Tollcross International Swimming Centre

I’m sure Ross’ reaction and stunned disbelief at winning will be a lasting memory of the Games for many of the people who watched it at Tollcross or at home.

I have been very fortunate to have been able to visit the Athletes’ Village and venues during the preparation for the Games, but the volunteers, teams and spectators have truly brought the Games to life.

For anyone not able to come to Glasgow in person, the atmosphere is outstanding.

Obviously, the good weather always boosts people’s spirits, but across the city there is such enthusiasm for the Games, the competitors and the opportunity to welcome the rest of the Commonwealth.

I would encourage anyone who is able to try and get into the city to share in the spirit and experience the Commonwealth Games for themselves. There is plenty to do with screens, stages and events around the city.

Watching Thursday’s performances in the pool, judo, triathlon, lawn bowls and cycling has been a perfect start to the Games and, as we get ready for a weekend of sport, we can all look forward to more medals and excitement.

July 24, 2014
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
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Supporting the Scottish Marine Protected Area (MPA) project

This week the Scottish MPA project reached a significant milestone this week with the designation of 30 protected sites throughout Scottish waters. This network is the result of work involving many agencies and organisations. Marine Scotland Science (MSS) has been working hard conducting research, monitoring surveys and providing advice to help support this work.

MSS Scientists led by Peter Wright, the Ecology and Conservation Group Leader have unique knowledge and expertise of some of the habitats and species considered to be marine nature conservation priorities in Scottish waters or Priority Marine Features (PMFs) as they are commonly known. This is particularly so for some of the mobile fish species such as common skate and sandeel.  Peter and his colleagues advised on MPAs for the two PMF fish species; sandeel and common skate.

Common skate being tagged in the Sound of Jura

Common skate being tagged in the Sound of Jura

Common skate is especially vulnerable to fishing pressure and a highly valued species by recreational anglers in Scottish waters. Research by MSS scientist Francis Neat  published last month in the Journal Aquatic Conservation confirms the need for measures to protect these species and informed the decision on the MPAs in the Sound of Jura and Loch Sunart. Working closely with the Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network ( skate movements were tracked, showing that many were resident in the area for long periods of time. Data from skate tagged and released by anglers showed that skate in this area are currently experiencing a high mortality rate.
Video of the sea bed collected by MSS during surveys of Scottish Nephrops stocks are a valuable source of information on the presence of vulnerable benthic species and enabled MSS scientist Lynda Blackadder, and colleagues to produce a comprehensive picture of these species across surveyed areas of burrowed mud. This together with earlier data collected by MSS  facilitated a modelling study of the suitable habitat and environmental conditions for these species in a paper shortly to be published in the ICES Journal of Marine Science by Clare Greathead and others of MSS.
Two species of sea pen found on ‘burrowed mud’ habitat

Two species of sea pen found on ‘burrowed mud’ habitat

Understanding how connected the protected features may be between different MPAs is important but is a difficult area of science where often little is known about the movements or spread of many of the features being protected. MSS oceanographer Alejandro Gallego has used hydrographic models to simulate where the planktonic larvae of protected benthic species may move to, potentially providing a bridge from one protected site to another

MSS scientists Mike Robertson and Phil Boulcott  have led on several surveys with partners JNCC and SNH using Marine Scotland vessels Alba na Mara  and Scotia  across a range of MPA search areas, possible MPAs and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) (part of the wider MPA network).  Survey methods in which MSS specialise, such as: swathe bathymetry, towed underwater video, grab sampling and deployment of fish traps, were used to record the habitats and species in MPA areas in the Minches, West of the Hebrides, Northern North Sea, Moray Firth and Faroe Shetland Channel as well as the SACs East Rockall, Wyville Thompson Ridge, Stanton Banks, Solan Bank and Pobie Bank. These surveys have provided data to define search areas, revise site boundaries and set a baseline for future site condition monitoring.

July 23, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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Vancancy: Provision of Executive Director services to Fisheries Innovation Scotland Ltd: Closes 4th August

An exciting opportunity has arisen in Fisheries Innovation Scotland (FIS), a newly-established legally constituted, non-profit-distributing organisation soon to gain charitable status, with the remit of bringing together government, scientists, industry and other key stakeholders within a formal structure to lead an on-going programme of research, knowledge exchange and education. FIS will commission underpinning applied research and the provision of advice – using funds jointly committed by its trustees – to help inform the governance and management of sustainable fisheries, the fishing industry and related supply chain throughout Scotland and potentially beyond.