This article, written by Katie Macleod, was first published in EVENTS newspaper (available at on 11/01/2018

When Storm Caroline descended on the Outer Hebrides last month, closing schools, causing power cuts, and disrupting ferry journeys, it made national headlines. 

But thanks to systems put in place at the Education and Children’s Services Department at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, staff, teachers, and school pupils knew what to expect, and how to respond.

As a precautionary measure, all schools and nurseries in Lewis, Harris, and Uist were closed on Thursday 7th December, but staff – both at the Comhairle and in schools – were advised to make their way to work when they deemed it safe to do so.   

This article, written by Katie Macleod, was first published in EVENTS newspaper (available at on 03/05/2018

Who Cares? Scotland is a national third sector advocacy and membership organisation that works with care-experienced and other young people in a range of different ways. In the last year in the Western Isles, the work of Who Cares? Scotland has been wide-ranging, from independent advocacy work to the organisation of fun events for young people throughout the islands.

“Nationwide, the focus of Who Cares? Scotland’s work is supporting children and young people with experience of being in care, whether at home, with foster-carers or relatives, or in residential homes,” explains Tom Boyd, the organisation’s Advocacy and Participation Manager for the north of Scotland.

“It’s also about supporting those who have left care and are making that often very challenging transition into early adulthood. In the Western Isles, Who Cares? Scotland’s service is broader still, with Alison Frizzell working alongside and supporting not only children and young people with experience of care, but also a broad range of other young people who might benefit from the service.”

This article, written by Katie Macleod, was first published in EVENTS newspaper (available at on 07/06/2018

Over the last two years, the Education Department at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has rejuvenated its apprenticeship scheme in the Western Isles, widening its scope, increasing the number of opportunities available, and placing it squarely within the economic strategy and needs of the region.

Apprenticeships are now available in multiple industries across the public and private and sectors, allowing people of all ages to gain qualifications - learning and earning at the same time. 

Here, some of the islands’ recent apprentices share their experiences.

This article, written by Katie Macleod, was first published in EVENTS newspaper (available at on 07/06/2018

Dìleab – which means “legacy” in Gaelic – is an ambitious inter-generational bilingual project that explores the legacy of four major social influences on the Outer Hebrides over the last century, bringing in participants that range from school pupils to local musicians.

Over the next 12 months, the project will see the four secondary schools in the islands focus on four major themes: Barra will look at emigration; Uist will examine wartime experiences; Harris will study protest and politics; and Lewis pupils will be researching the tragedy of the Iolaire.

This article by Katie Macleod was first published in EVENTS newspaper (available at on 05/07/2018

“The early years of a child’s life are the most crucial to a child’s development, and have a lasting impact on their outcomes later in life,” explains Becky Maclean, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Early Years Service Manager.

With this in mind, Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) services are being expanded throughout the Western Isles – and across the country – under the Scottish Government’s plan to provide 1140 hours of free childcare to eligible children by August 2020.

This ELC expansion plan will see the government almost double the amount of free nursery time provided in Early Learning for all eligible two-, three- and four-year-olds, in an attempt to provide greater choice and flexibility for families, and close the poverty-related attainment gap. As Becky notes, “current research shows that children benefit in social, emotional, and educational outcomes from attending nursery, especially those from more challenging backgrounds.”