This article, written by Iain A MacSween, was first published in EVENTS newspaper (available at on 08/12/2016 

An innovative exercise to gather specific ‘community signatures’ from across the Outer Hebrides is being planned for next year (2017).

The project is being delivered by the Education and Children’s Services Department of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, modelled on a template designed by Business Lab, based in Aberdeen.

As the name suggests, a signature is unique to an individual, a family, a community or a business.

That signature can reveal a great deal - in particular, providing information about important strengths and weaknesses and, properly interpreted, establishing a process of development or change.

Neil Macleod, Service Manager at the Comhairle’s Education and Children’s Services Department, is overseeing the Outer Hebrides Community Signature.
He said: “Our plan is to host open-invitation events in communities across the islands, and it would be good to get families to come along and take part.
“They would be given a square made up of four triangles called descriptors, and within the four triangles would be nine smaller triangles, or elements, relating to the descriptor.
“So for example, if the descriptor was housing, a smaller triangle (element) could state that there was enough housing in the islands. If the family agreed that this was the case, they would colour that triangle green.
“If they disagreed, they would colour it red, and if they were unsure, they would colour it amber.
“There would be someone present who was trained to facilitate the session, and we would hope to have around 20 families or groups taking part.”

This article, written by Iain A MacSween, was first published in EVENTS newspaper (available at on 08/12/2016 

e-Sgoil, the multi-faceted initiative that aspires to improve equity and access in education across the Western Isles, has just celebrated its first birthday.   And so successful has the past year been, there are already big plans in place for the next 12 months.

Allan Smithyman is Programme Manager for e-Sgoil. He said: “What we actually celebrated recently was the naming of e-Sgoil. Evelyn Coull Macleod came up with the name and it is perfect – it’s simple and easily understood by people.

“So while we’ve had the e-Sgoil concept in place for one year, you could say e-Sgoil really got off the ground in August.

“The preceding months were spent visiting various locations across the country to develop the concept into something that was real, and to pull in the funding for it.

“Over £700,000 has come in to the local authority for the establishment of e-Sgoil.