Meet the Northern Alliance
Laurence Findlay, Regional Improvement Lead for the Northern Alliance
Laurence Findlay is the Regional Improvement Lead for the Northern Alliance. Laurence has been seconded to the Northern Alliance from his post as Director of Education and Social Care at Moray Council. The Northern Alliance is a collaboration between eight local authorities, across the North and West of Scotland: Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Argyll and Bute, Eilean Siar [Western Isles], Highland, Moray, Orkney Islands and Shetland Islands. The Northern Alliance seeks to improve the educational and life chances of our children and young people. To remove the barriers to learning and improve children’s outcomes, the collaborative seeks to build on the strengths of shared service development, 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.
Moray is a largely rural local authority between Aberdeenshire and Highland. Whilst the eight largest local authority in terms of size, it is 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 Education and Social Care department is responsible for all early learning, primary and secondary education and wider children’s services as well as leading leisure, sport and library services.
Bernard Chisholm, Director of Education and Children’s Services, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.
Bernard trained as an Educational Psychologist and has worked in a number of Local Authorities nationally. Bernard has enjoyed a wide range of responsibilities over his 28 years in Local Government including responsibility for Education Services, Children’s Services, Community Learning, Social Work and Leisure Services. Bernard is currently leading developments within Comhairle nan Eilean Siar in relation to: e-sgoil and on-line digital learning, curriculum redesign, developing the young workforce, business planning and Children’s Services re-design.
Bill Alexander, Director of Care and Learning, The Highland Council.
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 Care and Learning Service, which brings together community-based child health, education and children’s social care.
Wilf Weir, Executive Director of Education, Leisure and Housing Service, Orkney Islands Council.
Education, Leisure and Housing is responsible for a range of key services to the people of Orkney. With a staff numbering over 600, 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; we 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.
The population for the Shetland Islands is approximately 23,200. In Shetland Islands, 18.3 per cent of the population are aged 0-15 and 16.4 per cent of the population are aged 16 to 29 years. There is a network of 23 primary schools covering the islands. Some 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, operate in Unst, Yell, Whalsay, Aith and Sandwick. Students wishing to proceed to Higher Grade study move, at the beginning of their fifth year, from one of these to one of the two six-year secondary schools in Brae or Lerwick.
Argyll and Bute is the second largest local authority area in Scotland and has a population of approximately 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 with fewer than 3,000 people, or outwith 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, Iona, Coll and Tiree and account for 17% of the total population of Argyll and Bute. Argyll and Bute currently has 89 schools, comprising 78 primary, ten secondary and one special school.
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 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 post of Director within Aberdeenshire Council has responsibility for schools, children’s social work, community learning and development, leisure, cultural and arts services and the support functions linked to these services. In addition, the Service has responsibility for the administrative areas of Banff and Buchan and Garioch thus bringing an area dimension to the remit of Director.
James Cook, Quality Improvement Officer, Northern Alliance.
James Cook is seconded from Highland Council to the role of Quality Improvement Officer, leading Emerging Literacy across the Northern Alliance. James is working with education, health and psychological services across the Northern Alliance to support Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) settings and schools in taking a developmental approach to Emerging Literacy. James has interests in Literacy, Equalities, Mindset and Creativity.
Aisling MacQuarrie is seconded from Aberdeen City Council to the role of Project Officer to provide support to the Regional Improvement Collaborative. In this role she contributes to the successful management and delivery of Northern Alliance projects.