This week, Ruth has:

  • In Education Committee, continued the Committee’s inquiry into teacher workforce planning for Scotland’s schools. The Committee took evidence from a wide range of organisations, including Education Scotland, COSLA, and the General Teaching Council for Scotland. Ruth asked in particular about how schools plan to accommodate early retirement and maternity/paternity leave. The Committee also considered its draft annual report for 2016-2017.

 

  • In Social Security Committee, took evidence on the two child limit and associated ‘rape clause’ from a range of organisations, including Citizens Advice Scotland, Engender, Scottish Women’s Aid, and the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland (CPAG). These recent welfare changes were criticised across the panel in terms of both their predicted impact in increasing child poverty and disproportionately impoverishing women, and the morally indefensible ‘rape clause’ element, which requires women to choose between the emotional trauma of disclosing rape or financial impoverishment – and for which there is no clarity or guidelines about its administration.

 

  • Attended the launch of the new Irvine Harbourside Heritage booklet, led by the Irvine Burns Club, at Fullarton Connexions, which promotes the rich history of the harbour and town

 

  • Lodged a parliamentary motion congratulating the pupils of class P7b from Whitehirst Park Primary School in Kilwinning on winning the first Scotland-wide online maths contest, which was  organised by the education technology social enterprise, Sumdog, to coincide with National Digital Learning Week 2017

 

  • Joined in the 50th Anniversary Segdoune Royal Crowing Ceremony, Parade and Carnival in Kilwinning. Ruth hugely enjoyed the speeches of the Royal Party and commended Promoting Kilwinning for its organisation of the event

 

  • Praised the success of Scotland’s Access to Elected Office Fund, which supported 39 candidates in the recent local government elections, 15 of whom succeeded in being elected. The Access to Elected Office Fund was created last year and is funded by the Scottish Government and administered by Inclusion Scotland. The fund offers financial support for disabled candidates to reduce or eliminate disadvantage during the selection process and election campaign due to impairment-related difficulties or exclusion

 

  • Welcomed the announcement that the Scottish Government will fund a new joint project aimed at further increasing diversity within Scottish politics. Equalities organisations Engender, Inclusion Scotland, BEMIS, the Council for Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations (CEMVO), Stonewall Scotland, the Equality Network, and the Women 5050 campaign will work to enable political parties to remove the barriers that stop underrepresented groups from taking part in politics as party members, activists, party staffers, and as elected representatives. The organisations will produce an evidence-based online tool that will allow those involved in political parties, from national executives to local branches, to audit their practices and get help on how to remove barriers to getting involved.

 

 

  • Highlighted through a parliamentary question that Scotland’s female employment rate is higher than the UK’s – with 70.8% compared to 70.2%. The Labour Market Monthly Briefing Summary Tables for May 2017 also show that Scotland’s female unemployment rate is lower than the UK’s (4.2% vs. 4.4%) as is the female inactivity rate (26.0% vs. 26.5%). During the same Portfolio Questions session on the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, the Minister for Employability and Training, Jamie Hepburn, set out a range of ways in which the Scottish Government is supporting women into work, including supporting Family Friendly working practices and workplaces and providing funding to support women to return to work after a career break.

 

  • Promoted the newly published report by Holyrood’s Education and Skills Committee, Let’s Talk About Personal and Social Education (PSE), following a short inquiry into how PSE is taught in Scotland and what should be included as part of the subject. The report reveals a picture of inconsistent and inadequate provision of Personal and Social Education for Scotland’s young people in some of Scotland’s schools and contains recommendations on how to improve this, such as working with young people to co-design and engage them in the learning process.

 

  • Welcomed the news that Shiloh, the lovable Lhasa Apso that Ruth teamed up with for Holyrood’s first Dog of the Year competition earlier this month, has now found his forever home. At the inaugural event, organised by the Kennel Club and Dogs Trust, MSPs turned out to wow the judges either with their own dog or with a Dogs Trust dog – with the hope of helping the Dogs Trust dog to find its forever home through the publicity of the competition. This is exactly what has happened for Shiloh, who is now happily settling in with his new family in his forever home.