Who are we?

The Northern Alliance is a Regional Improvement Collaborative between eight local authorities working alongside Education Scotland’s Northern Team of Attainment Advisors and Curriculum Specialists.

The Northern Alliance seeks to improve the educational and life changes of our children and young people, build on the strengths of shared service development, and create professional networks and deliver continuous professional development.

The Northern Alliance exists to make a difference to the lives of children and young people by ensuring that the professionals who work with them collaborate for improvement and impact.

The Northern Alliance Regional Improvement Plan is a working document and will be refreshed over time. You can find details of some key contacts who may be able to support you on our contacts page.

Our Local Authorities

Aberdeen is a thriving, cosmopolitan city in the North-East of Scotland. The population of Aberdeen City is approximately 230,350.

Integrated Children’s and Family Services is responsible for delivering key statutory and frontline services related to Education, Additional Support Needs and Children’s Social Work. The children and families of Aberdeen City are lead partners in all we plan, deliver and support.

Aberdeenshire is the sixth largest council in Scotland and is extremely diverse. It is a large rural area but has significant diversity with suburban areas such as Westhill and large fishing towns such as Peterhead. Demographic and social issues are equally diverse, with a rising school population and an economy based on farming and fishing as well as oil and gas.

The Education and Children’s Service within Aberdeenshire Council covers schools, children’s social work, community learning and development, leisure, cultural and arts services and the support functions linked to these services.

Argyll and Bute is the second largest local authority in Scotland and has a population of approx. 90,000. Almost half of all inhabitants (45%) live in settlements of 3,000 or more people; conversely, 55% of Argyll and Bute’s population live in settlements altogether.

It has more inhabited islands (23) than any of Scotland’s other council areas, including the three islands authorities. These islands include, Bute, Islay, Jura, Mull, Coll and Tiree and account for 17% of the total population of Argyll and Bute.


Highland Council has a population of around 233,000, and covers one third of the land mass of Scotland. It includes some of the most remote and rural parts of the UK, as well as areas of urban deprivation.

Children and Education Services are delivered by the Car and Learning Service, which brings together community-based child health, education and children’s social care.

Moray is a largely rural local authority between Aberdeenshire and Highland. Whilst the eighth largest local authority in terms of size, it has one of the smallest populations at just over 90,000 residents.

Moray has 46 primary and eight secondary schools, ranging in size from 10 to 1,000+ pupils, educating over 12,000 young people.

The population for the Shetland Islands is approx. 23,200. In Shetland Islands, 18.3 percent of the population are aged 0-15 years and 16.4 percent are aged 16-29 years.

There is network of 23 primary schools covering the islands. Some of the rural primary schools are very small, employing only one or two teachers, and class sizes in these also tend to be small.

There are four-year secondary schools, which offer courses up to Standard Grade, operating in Unst, Yell, Whalsay, Aith and Sandwick.

Students wishing to proceed to Higher Grade study move at the beginning of fifth year to one of the two six-year secondary schools in Brae or Lerwick.

Education, Leisure and Housing is responsible for a range of key services to the people in Orkney. With a staff numbering over 600m in schools and learning centres, college, libraries, swimming pools, community centres, youth clubs, sports centres and museums. Staff at School Place manage a range of services, as well as social housing.

The Education, Leisure and Housing Service support many of the most vulnerable through our homelessness and housing support services; we help learners of all ages overcome barriers to learning; support communities, particularly those in remote and island locations.

We secure valued services to the community through support for the Picky Centre, a range of voluntary bodies and major festivals and arts venues.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) serves a population of approx. 26,950 spread across an island chain located off the North-West coast of Scotland. which forms a 130 mile arch from north to south. This accounts for almost 4 percent of Scotland’s area but only 0.5 percent of its population – the lowest population density (9 people per kilometre square) of all the local authorities in Scotland.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has 22 primary schools and 4 secondary schools providing education to over 3,300 pupils. Schools range in size from 11 pupils to over 1,000.

The Education, Skills and Children’s Services Department is responsible for Early Learning, Primary and Secondary education. The department also has responsibility for Children’s Services and Sport and Leisure.

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