Shaping Aberdeen – Aberdeen Guarantees

Originally posted on Angela Scott - Chief Executive, Aberdeen City Council.:

A tremendous start to the week with the launch of Aberdeen Guarantees at the Beach Ballroom.

This new partnership initiative brings together the efforts of the public, private and third sectors to help young people progress towards employment.  Aberdeen Guarantees will ensure all 14 to 25-year-olds in Aberdeen have access to quality opportunities in learning, training and work.  This morning’s launch marked the start of the collaborative process to bring about this ambitious project by engaging with the city’s business community.

The programme of activity will be key to the Council addressing the Strategic Infrastructure Plan priority on skills. 

I am delighted to say that the Council Leader and I have signed a pledge on behalf of the Council, promising a range of support for young people, including providing modern apprenticeships; informing students, parents and teachers about the job market and skills required in the City; and participating in careers…

View original 219 more words

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Skills Drive Flying High

4C0A0228

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

After publishing Determined to Succeed in 2013 skills development authors Neil McLennan & Kevin Murphy have spent the year interviewing more case studies of success and some new achievement ambassadors. After months of sifting, interviewing, writing, drafting and redrafting it is here:- the sequel, the Art of Achievement.

Click on the link above to get your copy.

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Flags Unite A Nation

black saltire

Today sees a victory for one campaign and a black day for others. In a public creative challenge about the flag of Scotland, the core purpose was to unite people in thinking about Scotland’s past, present and future.

See

http://neilsgleeeclub.wordpress.com/2014/06/15/flags-of-our-fathers-and-mothers-and-sisters-and-brothers-and-neighbours/

The first paragraph read

Margo MacDonald’s passing and funeral clearly showed that she desperately wanted a’ unity of purpose’ for Scotland and ‘an end to the palpable air of bitter antagonism’. Today’s Scotland on Sunday backs up her view, with its ICM poll showing that almost two fifths of those surveyed believing that Scotland will be left ‘badly divided’ after the referendum vote. No one wishes for divisions- there are plenty of them in this world as it is.
One way in which nations and people unite is through common purpose and a common past. Many nations find that through the creation of an army, a police force, an education system and a flag they find that unity. However, that unity can only be superficial, especially when imagined communities are established. That is why a rethink about many of the things that make us Scottish might help us to better understanding our past, articulate our offering at the present and move forward positively and collectively.

Now that the referendum is over and the saltire has been held high, left in gutters, well used and worn- is it further time to rethink the flag and would this help unite a country in thinking, process and outcome? One thing is for sure, with 84.% taking part in democratic process and millions expressing views in country wide discussion! there is a new appetite for engagement which has not been seen for decades.

option 2

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conservative (with a small ‘C’) Victory for Saltire in Public Poll

option 1

After three months of voting, coverage in national newspapers website and local newspapers and various twitter conversations (including being ‘trolled’), the vote is over.

Whilst the Saltire came out as the peoples most desired flag for Scotland, a number of other variants attracted attention. With 60% of the votes cast it was not an overwhealming majority. The Original Saltire of Scotland (a black and white saltire) came second with the Lion Rampant following close behind. Designs inspired by the Suffragette movement and the cooperative and international spirit of a Scotland came in fourth and fifth place.

A number of other designs were suggested in this poll and creative challenge. They included a Shetland styled Nordic Cross, a peace flag type saltire and flags I including unicorns and a hybrid of the existing Saltire with a lion rampant.

The low public engagement compared to blog hits was of note with some 762 hits on the article and flag designs mustering some 180 votes. Compared to other polls this figure is perhaps representative of poor uptake and low sample pools despite the high level of public debate and discussion. The 23% engagement rate hopefully will not be repeated when the nation goes to the polls tomorrow. But will as Salmond be leaping tomorrow? Will Scotland show a similar conservatism in referendum votes? From this poll the salmon inspired design sat lowest in the league tables.

What will will be interesting to note are people’s perception on our past, present and future from tomorrow. Meantime, the Saltire still flutters in the wind over a Scotland as the country decides.

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Blowing Up Scotland to the World

The morning after the night before I was still trying to make sense of the wailing of “Welcome to Scotland” whilst a Jurassic Park style 4×4 raced around iconic symbols propped up by tacky commercialisation via tin cans and surrounded by fattening sweeties bouncing around the Celtic Park turf (some might argue- no change there then). Even worse, the 4×4 passed through a tyre made out to look like tyres made by the widely believed inventor of the tyre. With RW Thomson of Stonehaven being the first to patent the tyre it was clear this show was going to be about commercial symbolism and crass quasi culture over correctness or class.

image

When I did reflect back on it I wondered if it was some Baz Luhrmann type attempt to put an even more eclectic spin on Trainspotting and that the tripping scene from the iconic movie had reached new heights. Alas, this was not about being flushed down a lavy to chase a lost suppository. No, this was Scotland’s welcome to the world- a reflection on who we are and what we do. One thing we do all to well is criticise and self deprecate, a sad incitement on the underdog nation. And so, on writing this article I wanted to ensure I was positive.

Two things were welcome and struck a chord with many. The first was the entry of the Braemar Highland Games pipe bands. Although there is a slight shortbread tin, tartanification of Scotland via this imagery (the Highland bag pipes they are blowing up orally were not as commonly used historically as the traditional Lowland bagpipes of antiquary; the tartans worn do not date back to the days of Wallace, Bruce and a’ that; and Flower of Scotland is a song that dates back decades). However, this was more what Scotland could and should offer the world. It would maybe have been a bit ‘aye been’ but it is what people expected and it is what people wanted. Moreover, to turn to another Scottish trait, it is nae that expensive.

image
The second thing that warmed my heart was the charitable connection raising funds for children less well off than those watching the programme on flat screen TVs or via smart phones or tablet technology. Whilst some tweeted about the irony of this charitable gesture being launched from once the areas with the lowest social economic declines in Europe, we cannot deny the difference in material poverty between the kids left in Glasgow slums (or modern day equivalents) and some of the poorest children in the Commonwealth is almost immeasurable. Anything which raised money those children less well of than ourselves is to be commended. They are our future and charity is as much a trait of Scottishness as tartan, tea cakes and trainspotting!

The Orwellian tanoy messages instructing people within the stadium and across the world to donate now was a bit scary as the celebrities on the Hampden pitch pulled out their smart phones and feigned (and in some cases did actually) ‘text’ their donation.

So with two positives in the Braemar Games input and the UNICEF appeal I can say that two out of three ain’t bad. Three out of three would have been brilliant. What better way to start the games than have a simple launch with Highland dancers, pipe bands, Auld Lang Syne and a couple of high profile bands followed by a real contribution to the Common Weal. How about if the tannoy have announced, in a slightly more soft and gentle voice:-

“The launch of the London Olympic Games Coast £x million, the launch of the last Commonwealth Games cost £x million, the cost to have a light, sound and firework display here in Glasgow would have been £x million. We here in Scotland have done something different. We have welcomed you here in true Scottish style. Scotland is a country where people matter. And so, the total cost of £x million that it would have cost for a firework sound and light display this evening has been donated to UNICEF to help other less well off then us here tonight. And now, we are going to ask you to do the same.”

Now that would have been a true reflection of Scotland- Common Weal and the sort of Common Sense Scotland should be renowned for. Maybe the Closing Ceremony will bring such joined up thinking, heartfelt leadership and charitable spirit.

Meantime, to return to trainspotting tripping scene. It would have been worse- they could have blown up a set of flats! Thankfully that did not happen. Maybe at that part of the planning meeting they were hearing forgotten voices from Scottish History, “the world is watching us, and it is our responsibility to conduct ourselves with responsibility, and with dignity and with maturity.” (Jimmy Reid).

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PostScript. Now that the opening ceremony artefacts are being auctioned. Let’s hope money raised here goes to good causes or recoups some of the public expense on items noted above.

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Flags of our Fathers (and mothers, and sisters and brothers and neighbours):

What flag would you choose for Scotland

Option 1:- Status Quo for St Andrews?
option 1
Option 2:- Cooperative Colours
option 2
Option 3- Suffragette Saltire
option 3 (2)
Option 4- Standard Landscape
option 4
Option 5:- Fields and Rivers
option 5
Option 6:- You decide.
question
Option 7:- Lion Rampant
lion rampant
Option 8:- The Original Saltire
black saltire
Option 9:- Green Saltire of Otterburn
green saltire otterburn

Option 10:- Deer Design Dominates Scottish Landscape
Deer Dominates

Option 11:- Red Eagle Soaring Standard
Eagle Soars
Option 12:- Salmon Leaping
Salmon  Leaping

 

Option 13:- Landscape Standard

royal standard landscape

 

Option 14:- Thistle Standard

royal standard with thistles

If you have an idea, an innovative design or a creative thought- it would be great to hear from you and for you to post your flag either on this blog, email it to be (contacts link above) or post it on the facebook group I have set up: A Flag for Scotland.

Full blog post can be read here:-

Flags of our Fathers (and mothers, and sisters and brothers and neighbours):
Does Scotland need a new flag?

This is a social and historical commentary and a gaze into the future encouraging creativity, innovation, multiperspectivity and eternal cooperation. This is not a political commentary, albeit this might be an altogether more interesting vote as we approach September 2014.

Margo MacDonald’s passing and funeral clearly showed that she desperately wanted a’ unity of purpose’ for Scotland and ‘an end to the palpable air of bitter antagonism’. Today’s Scotland on Sunday backs up her view, with its ICM poll showing that almost two fifths of those surveyed believing that Scotland will be left ‘badly divided’ after the referendum vote. No one wishes for divisions- there are plenty of them in this world as it is.
One way in which nations and people unite is through common purpose and a common past. Many nations find that through the creation of an army, a police force, an education system and a flag they find that unity. However, that unity can only be superficial, especially when imagined communities are established. That is why a rethink about many of the things that make us Scottish might help us to better understanding our past, articulate our offering at the present and move forward positively and collectively.

The Scottish flag itself only represents one group of the many peoples who made up land that eventually was called Scotland. It dates from 832 AD when Angus mc Fergus, the King of Alba did battle with Athelstan’s Angles and Saxon forces. It was said that a white cross appeared; set against the blue skies above the East Lothian battlefield and this saltire inspired the Alba armies. It is unclear when St Andrew himself became patron saint of Scotland although by 1286 Seals of the Guardians of Scotland bear an ‘X’ shape and has Latin inscriptions stating St Andrews to be the leader of Scots.

As Scots prepared to raid England in 1385 a parliament decree stated, “Every man shall have a sign before and behind, namely the white St Andrew’s cross and if his coat is white he shall bear the cross on a piece of black cloth.

black saltire

Later in the 1300s, around 1390, St Andrew began to appear on coins during Robert III’s rule. It seems it took some time for a blue background to come into the flag of Scotland itself. IN the 14th century the Douglas Standard, carried into the Battle of Otterburn had a green background.

green saltire otterburn

It might have been 1460 that a white saltire against a blue background first appears in the “blue blanket” standard of the Edinburgh incorporated trades. This colour scheme seems to have carried on since then and is preeminent in discussions around the Union flag. This in itself is another interesting story about flags, decisions, creativity and created memories.

For the Union Flag as it stands were not the only design that was thought up. There were several. Things could have looked very different if another design had been picked.

union flags

Even more recently another creative mind has looked at what the flag might look like if the Scottish bits were to be removed. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25205017

The act of deciding upon a flag has pressed many countries, even the EU itself. It has gone through many flags through time and in the competition “A new symbol for Europe” 1400 plus proposed flags were whittled down to 12 by an international jury before being exhibited and a final flag chosen. Some examples can be seen below:-

1048

7_Orio-Tonini_politie

57

220px-Union-europea_segun_rem-koolhaas_svg

150px-Flag_of_the_European_Coal_and_Steel_Community_9_Star_Version_svg

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With that amount of consideration and creativity going into a new flag for the creation of the European Union- is it time for us to look at a new flag for Scotland? What are your thoughts?

Option 1:- Status Quo for St Andrews?
option 1

Option 2:- Cooperative Colours
option 2

I have used a number of colours and each is symbolic in this flag. Overarching throughout this design though is that Scotland is multi-cultural and its history reflects this with Scotland once being made up of Pictland in the North, Dalriada in the west, Strathclyde in the south west and Lothian in the South East. In this version I have included the green of Scotland agricultural past (although it could very well reflect Irish influences on our country; the blue reflects the rivers and sea that are so vital to us and are reflected in our Parliament building (although it could also reflect Alba and the origins of the flag Scotland currently uses), the black reflects the oil and gas natural reserves of Scotland and the red is of England whose past and people are so important in our country (others may feel the black and red represent more sinister and dark past although this multi-colour flag I hope reflects a future of multi culturalalism).

Option 3- Suffragette Saltire
option 3 (2)

I drew my inspiration for this design from the Suffragette movement who were particularly strong and active in Scotland. Their colours were all symbolic with purple representing dignity, white purity and green hope. To my knowledge they never used it in this way (mainly in striped flags, rosettes and posters). However as Scotland continues to try to further democracy via independence, devolution and creating more power closer to the people , perhaps this would be a valid design for the country going forward both reflecting the past and giving hope for the future.

Option 4- Standard Landscape

option 4

Many flags around the world have many different symbols on them- stars, sunshine images, crescents etc. However much of Scotland past (and potentially its future, depends of its landscape and geography. Should the flag be as simple as one reflecting that landscape? This version shows the sea and some major rivers. This again builds upon the significance of water to Scotland as reflected in the Scottish Parliament. However, this could be mountain regions, major towns represented by stars in key positions on the flag. Whatever?

Option 5:- Fields and Rivers

option 5

Again this flag draws it inspiration from an inseparable connection of the people to water and the land. The design is simple using on the green background representing the land and the blue representing the sea and move over the rivers that pass through Scotland.

Option 6:- You decide.

If you have an idea, an innovative design or a creative thought- it would be great to hear from you and for you to post your flag either on this blog, email it to be (contacts link above) or post it on the facebook group I have set up: A Flag for Scotland.

Option 7:- Lion Rampant
lion rampant

An age old design. As ‘Oh Flower of Scotland’ replaced ‘Scot What Hae’ and ‘Scotland the Brave’ over time as the national anthem, will the Lion Rampant replace the saltire as the popular flag of Scotland. The flag was carried by Bruce’s army at Bannockburn however will it continue to remain popular with its strong Royal Links? Only time will tell, but your vote counts! *

Option 8:- The Original Saltire
black saltire

As noted in my essay, this was the original flag of Scotland. Could it return to popular favour again?

Option 9:- Green Saltire of Otterburn
green saltire otterburn
Sometimes history has a funny habit of repeating itself. Like the original black saltire, could we see a return to one of the original green standards of Scotland?

Option 10:- Deer Design Dominates Scottish Landscape
Deer Dominates
Do you like the Lion Rampant but perhaps without the Royal links? After all, how many lion’s do we see in Scotland. Now a deer, that is more like it! Could this dominate the poll just as it dominates the landscape?
Option 11:- Red Eagle Soaring Standard
Eagle Soars
American Presidential flags have eagles and the American psyche see the eagle in many different states. There is nothing more graceful that watching a red eagle soaring above the Scottish landscape. Could this replace the Lion Rampant to become the Eagle Soaring?

Option 12:- Salmon Leaping
Salmon  Leaping
The question we are all asking- will the Salmon be leaping as our poll draws to a close in September 2014.

Option 13:- Landscape Standard

royal standard landscapeThis flag was inspired by some of the previous designs I have already posted, drawing together the particular influences of landscape and animals.

Option 14:- Thistle Standard

royal standard with thistlesThis flag was inspired in a similar was as the above one however it pulls in some thoughts shared by users of the facebook group “A Flag for Scotland”.

 


Voting will be open to midnight on Wednesday 17th September 2014

As a final note:- The RSNO conducted an opinion poll in 2006 to see what people believed was their favourite Scottish national anthem. Over 10,000 votes were cast and “Flower of Scotland” came out top with 41%. “Scotland the Brave” came a close second with 29% and “Highland Cathedral” scored 16%. Burn’s song “A Man’s A Man for A’ That” scored 7% and “Scots Wha Hae” 6%.  Will Scots continue with a conservative outlook or a more radical zeal for change?

 

This story appeared in Scotsman publications soon after the above blog piece was published online:-

edinburgh evening news

 

The piece also featured in History Scotland magazine’s expert comment section.

expert blog

https://www.celebrate-scotland.co.uk/News-and-Features/1489/Is_it_time_to_ditch_the_Saltire_History_Scotland_expert_blog/

 

References:
Information of the history of the flag of Scotland has come from many books and memory of teaching many classes Scottish history. However I would highly recommend visiting the Scottish Flag Trust Heritage Centre in East Lothian.
Pictures of the designs of the Union flag came from the website of the National Library of Scotland.
Pictures of the EU flag designs came from http://www.designdenhaag.eu/nl/symbols
All other flags have been sourced via copyright free web searches.

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Safety Moments to Learning Moments

Safety moments to learning moments

I always intended for this blog page to be for sharing nuggets of eureka moments, great learning and tremendous teaching. Last week whilst at a meeting in the board room of one of the world’s top oil and gas service provider companies I had one of those moments.

Safety is at the heart if this industry. This runs from oil rigs to board rooms. Before the meeting started, the head of graduate recruitment started the meeting as all meeting chairs now do- with a safety moment.

She shared a story of when safety was important to her (in this instance, it was planning a mountain expedition over her weekend).

It got me thinking. What a great way to anchor the organisation to a core value. Do we do enough of this in education?image

Should we start each meeting with a personal learning moment? Are we lifelong learners? Do we practice what we preach?

Where oil and gas have committed to safety first, have all education organisations fully embedded learning first?

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