A group of young buddies will join Paisley’s long tradition of radical poets at this year’s Sma’ Shot Weave Festival as part of a national campaign to engage young people in literature and culture.

The annual Weave Festival and Sma’ Shot Day event will take place on Saturday 7 July and will see the return of the popular Dooslan Stane stage. This year it will welcome a group of young people from Paisley and further afield who are keen to carry on the town’s long history of celebrating poetry and the spoken word.

The Dooslan Stane is an important aspect of the day’s events as it has close links with the textile industry. The stane or ‘stone’ was once a meeting place for the Weavers Union and was used as a ‘soapbox’ where the weavers could review the hot political topics of the time and air their grievances against the mill owners.

This year it will serve as the platform for a different kind of activism as young people share their experiences in their own words. The activity ties into the wider Year of Young People 2018 programme which aims to give young people a stronger voice on issues which affect their lives, showcase their ideas and talents, and ultimately, create a more positive perception of them in society.

The Youth Poetry Slam is part of a wider national project – the Scottish Youth Poetry Slam – the project deliberately targets educational and social disadvantage, crossing barriers by using fun, youth culture to nurture language and literacy and to engage young people in literature and culture and upskill them with creative ways to manage mental health.

A group of young people from Port Glasgow High School who won the title back in 2016 will work with young people at Create Paisley to produce work that will be performed on the day.

Emma from Port Glasgow High School, said: “Winning the title of Scottish Youth Poetry Slam Masters 2016 was amazing and since then we have gone on to teach poetry workshops to primary schools and performed for Prince Harry and Megan.

“We are very excited to be meeting and collaborating with young people from Create Paisley to make a performance for the Weave Festival and Sma’ Shot Day celebration and can’t wait to get started.”

Renfrewshire’s Year of Young People Champion, Councillor Michelle Campbell, said: “Giving young people a constructive and creative outlet to allow them to express themselves is a great way to ensure good mental health and it’s great to see that young people from Port Glasgow and Renfrewshire coming together to share their ideas and talents.

“I’m sure they will produce some fantastic work and I look forward to seeing them perform at this year’s Weave Festival and Sma’ Shot Day celebrations.”

ConFAB arts company is responsible for delivering the national Scottish Youth Poetry Slam project and has been working with groups across Scotland.

Artistic Director for conFAB, Rachel Jury, said: “Poetry is all about what you want or need to say without the constraints of rhyme and meter that you learn in school. It’s a much freer medium for young people to communicate in their own way, express themselves and build confidence.

“It’s a great thing for these young people to have their views and experiences heard and will enable them to explore their own voices, manage their creativity and improve their mental wellbeing.”

The young people from Port Glasgow High School will meet with members of Create Paisley from 4 July to participate in a series of workshops where they will come up with the pieces they will perform on the day.

Create Paisley Project Manager, Alan Clark, said: “We’ve been doing a lot with young people in the community around writing and poetry in the last year or so. It gives young people a sense of encouragement to use poetry as a tool to express themselves.

“It’s particularly significant that that the young people participating in the Youth Poetry Slam will have a chance to perform on the Dooslan Stane stage and bring their own type or modern-day activism to the event.

CREATE Paisley have collaborated with PACE Theatre Group are producing Write Here Write Now, a Young Writers Festival as part of Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018, which will be open to young people aged 8 – 26 who will create and develop new writings, focusing on plays, songwriting and poetry.

To find out the full details and programme for this year’s Weave Festival and Sma’ Shot Day celebrations visit: www.paisley.is.

To find out more about Write Here Write Now visit: www.write18.com or to get more detail on the Scottish Youth Poetry Slam visit their Facebook page @sypslam

GLASGOW AIRPORT ALL SET FOR SOARING SUMMER GETAWAY

 

  • More than 200,000 expected over weekend

 

  • Busiest weekend of 2018

 

 

 

Glasgow Airport is preparing for its busiest weekend of the year so far as tens of thousands take to the skies for the summer holidays.

More than 200,000 passengers are expected to travel through the airport this weekend as the school holidays get underway.

 

The majority of travellers will be heading for popular sunshine hotspots such as Palma, Alicante, the Canary Islands, Crete, Florida, Dalaman in Turkey, Bourgas in Bulgaria. Other popular city break destinations include Paris, Munich, New York, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Rome and Dubai.

 

Additional staff will be on hand at peak times over the weekend to provide support and assurance for passengers as they prepare for check-in and security.

 

The airport will also be providing plenty of entertainment for young departing travellers to ensure their holidays get off to a flying start.  This will include a kids’ zone in the departures area featuring arts and craft activities including face painting, while sweet-toothed youngster can also enjoy a cone from our ice-cream cart.   

 

Mark Johnston, Glasgow Airport Managing Director, said: “The recent great weather will hopefully have ensured our passengers travelling through the airport this weekend are in the holiday spirit. There’s always a great atmosphere in terminal, particularly as the school term has come to an end and thousands of families arrive at the airport ahead of their holidays.

 

“This weekend is sure to be one of our busiest ever and we’ll have plenty of activities in the main departure lounge to help occupy the children.

 

“Given that the airport will be busier than usual we would encourage passengers to allow enough time for check-in and to ensure they are prepared for the security area and have their boarding passes ready.

 

“All liquids, gels and pastes carried in hand luggage should be 100ml or less and carried in a 20cm x 20cm clear plastic bag, which should be presented out with their hand luggage at the security check point.

 

“Passengers should also organise their hand luggage appropriately before they go through our X-Ray machines, which means removing laptops and other large electrical equipment from their bags and placing them flat and unobstructed in the tray along with smaller items such as keys, coins, watched and phones.

 

“Small steps such as these really help to ensure our passengers pass through security as quickly and smoothly as possible so they can relax and enjoy the start of their holiday.”

 

Glasgow Airport completed a £1.4 million project earlier this year to increase the central search security area by 20 per cent. This investment was part of a wider £24 million terminal transformation programme, which included a number of enhancements to the airport’s retail offering including new Fat Face and JD Sports stores.

Mackay to take on additional Economy responsibilities
Renfrewshire MSP Derek Mackay has retained his role as Scotland’s Finance Secretary following today’s Government reshuffle by First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.
The SNP politician has also been given additional responsibilities, making his full title Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work in Nicola Sturgeon’s new Cabinet.
Mr Mackay has been Finance Secretary since 2016 and previously served as Minister for Local Government and Planning and Minister for Transport.
Speaking Mr Mackay said:
“I am delighted to have been asked by the First Minister to continue in my role as Scotland’s Finance Secretary with new added responsibility over the Economy and Fair Work.
“It is a great privilege to continute serving in the new look Cabinet and I look forward to working with my colleagues, including those newly appointed, as we work to deliver for the people of Renfrewshire and Scotland.
“As always, my important constituency work for the people and communities of Renfrewshire North & West goes on, and, in addition to my ministerial responsibilities, I look forward to spending the summer meeting with my constituents as I hold street surgeries across the constituency.
“I am first and foremost a constituency MSP and my constituency office and surgery programme continue, where constituents can contact me anytime with any issue they require my assistance with.”

SNP MSP Derek Mackay is urging Renfrewshire’s dog owners not to leave their pets in hot cars this summer.

Mr Mackay is highlighting research undertaken by Dogs Trust which shows that almost people believe it is ok to leave a dog in a car if counter-measures are taken, such as leaving a window open or parking under a tree.

Under 20 minutes in a hot car can prove fatal to a dog, should its body exceed 41°C. Within a matter of minutes, as the temperature rises in your car, your dog’s suffering will become evident through excessive panting, whimpering or barking. This will then develop into a loss of muscle control and ultimately their kidneys will cease to function, the brain will become damaged and their heart will stop.

The Renfrewshire North & West MSP is warning constituents that on even wet or cooler days, leaving their pet in the car even for a few minutes can be dangerous.

Mr Mackay said:

“Many people don’t know that dogs take a lot longer than humans to cool down and with temperatures rising over the summer it is more important than ever that dog owners are warned of the dangers of leaving their pets unattended in cars. Even on cooler or very wet days, cars can become very hot, very quickly, and be fatal for dogs.

“You just need to touch the dashboard or seat of a car to see how hot it can get. And parking in the shade or leaving the window down will not make it any safer.

“If you are carrying your dog in the car over the summer carry plenty of drinking water for it, use sun blinds on the windows and do not leave the dog in a parked car, even for a few minutes.

“If you do see a dog in distress in a parked car call the police or the SSPCA immediately.”

Residents in Renfrewshire’s villages have a unique opportunity to shape their own place, according to Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson.

Councillor Nicolson attended Kilbarchan Community Council on Tuesday 26 June 2018 in the latest of a series of community council visits to hear about local issues.

They discussed a range of new funds set out in the Council’s 2018 budget which will give local communities the opportunity to lead projects that matter most to them.

A £1.5million Community Empowerment Fund is now open, supporting community members to take ownership of assets such as a community hub or sports facility in their area.

And a £370,000 Villages Investment Fund and £1.5million Green Spaces, Parks and Play Areas Fund are being rolled out later this year.

Local groups are also benefiting from changes behind the scenes to create a single point of contact for information and assistance.

“We have committed dedicated funds to give residents in our villages and towns the chance to make things happen within their local communities,” said Councillor Nicolson. “These funds can act as the catalyst for our talented thriving community groups to drive positive action on their doorstep. We want to encourage groups to lead grass roots activity and are here to support smaller projects too.

“There was a positive response from members of Kilbarchan Community Council to these new opportunities and they agreed with our approach to develop a partnership approach with community groups.

“It can sometimes be difficult to know who to contact at the Council and that’s why we’ve simplified the process ensuring people can access the support we offer as easily as possible.”

There was further discussion on the review of Local Area Committees, restructuring them to give community delegates a greater say, and on possible traffic calming measures for the village.

The visit to Kilbarchan follows meetings with Inchinnan, Bishopton and Paisley North Community Councils in recent months.

Councillor Nicolson added: “I have always said that I want to meet community groups and organisations who share in our ambition to make Renfrewshire a great place to live, visit, work and invest in.

“These community council visits give me an important opportunity to hear first-hand about what’s happening across Renfrewshire, to share best practise and highlight new opportunities. We are listening to what our communities have to say and want to help them to achieve our shared goals.”

Damon Scott, Chair, Kilbarchan Community Council, said: “Iain’s interest and attendance at the Kilbarchan Community Council was much appreciated. We were excited to hear of plans to provide more support to local communities via community empowerment.

“We very much believe an identity and pride in place is at the heart of every successful community and this was also highlighted as a focus for the partnership approach in the future. We look forward to working with the council and other partners to continue to make Kilbarchan an even better place to live, work and visit.”

Community groups can call 0141 618 7408 or email communityplanning@renfrewshire.gov.uk for more information.

Young people across Renfrewshire are having their say on school menus as part of an initiative to improve their mental and physical wellbeing.

Healthy eating at Johnstone High School 20.6.18

The health peer education project Hearty Lives is working with young people in secondary schools to identify their top health priorities.

Financed by Renfrewshire Council’s Tackling Poverty fund and operated in partnership with Active Communities, each school has a teacher coordinator who works with a group of pupils who promote issues students identify as important to them, such as healthy eating and make improvements for their fellow students.

School catering staff have met regularly with some of the groups and as new school menus were introduced just weeks ago across Johnstone, Gryffe, Castlehead, Trinity, Park Mains, Paisley Grammar and Renfrew High Schools and pupils and staff are already enjoying the positive benefits.

Renfrewshire’s Year of Young People Champion, Councillor Michelle Campbell dropped into Johnstone High to see what a difference the initiative has made.

She said: “The message from the young people here has very much been how much they value having their voices heard and having an input into something as fundamental as the food on their plates.

“It’s not just that there’s a wider choice of menu options, but that young people are encouraged to sit down and eat with their friends in a social setting.

“They see lunch as a social situation, which is such a positive thing in terms of their health and wellbeing.

“Sharing a meal is something which unites us all and this is something that will develop going forward, for young people’s entire school careers.”

A healthier breakfast service has been introduced to phase out traditional filled rolls in favour of choices such as toast, poached eggs and fruit, as well as reducing the size and availability of home baking options.

Healthy food choices are now more prominently displayed at serving areas with catering staff encouraged to ‘nudge’ pupils to make healthier choices.

Young people have been invited to taster sessions, including primary seven pupils ahead of starting S1 after the summer

Second year pupil Thea Brady said: “I think the new menu is good as there are a lot of choices, especially for people who perhaps have food allergies to think about.”

Aidan Hepburn, 16, who is a fourth year pupil at the school, said: “Ever since it started I’ve really liked it as there’s a much better choice and it’s much healthier.

“There are also choices if you are vegan. I’ve been enjoying coming to the canteen.”

Head teacher Lynne Hollywood says that in the weeks since the new menu was introduced there have been positive changes across the school.

She said: “This for us is about so much more than the food that’s going into the children, it’s more about a lifestyle change.

“When we had our school health week, our home economics staff worked with catering staff to showcase the new menu to the pupils and to encourage staff to come down and eat alongside them.

“The buzz in here having everyone eating together from proper plates with cutlery was great. You can’t underestimate the impact of the social side of sharing a meal together, of talking and interacting.

“The pupils have had a huge impact on the menu. We’ve had tasting sessions where only the pupils were there as we found if the catering staff were offering different foods the pupils might be reluctant to try it, but if they were being offered it by the fifth and sixth year pupils they were much keener.

“Going forward, the pupils will very much continue to be involved and to have a voice.”

Pupils have also been able to undergo valuable work experience in the school kitchen alongside catering staff.

Lynne Hollywood added: “The benefits to the young people and the staff are enormous, it lets them feel they are connected to the school and makes everyone feel they are much more part of a team.

“The challenge has been to encourage our young people to stay in the school grounds at lunchtime and enjoy the environment here.”

The school’s Hearty Lives coordinator Ainsley Brown said: “The group of pupils worked with our catering manager to redo the school menus as along with young people across Renfrewshire, they were keen to see more healthy choices.

“The kids were able to give their feedback after taster sessions and it’s great to see the pupils eating more sociably.”

New school menus offer up social and health benefits for young people

By Renfrewshire Council Leader, Cllr Iain Nicolson

The good work going on at Johnstone High and other schools highlights how the food on our plate is about so much more than being mere fuel.

The Hearty Lives project, supported by our Tackling Poverty fund, now has 210 trained peer educators across Renfrewshire Secondary Schools.

They have worked with 5,000 pupils on a range of issues, including diet and nutrition and aims to help them lead their own activities to improve their health and wellbeing.

Youth mental health is a key priority and sharing a meal with family, friends or our peer group is a positive thing- whether it’s bonding through shared experiences, relaxing, or just having someone to talk to.

It’s clear to see that by encouraging our young people to eat better in school canteens where they find the choices attractive, then they’ll choose to spend time there with their friends in a safe and nurturing environment.

If young people are introduced this in their formative years of Secondary School then it’s something they can take with them through school and beyond.

It’s great to see young people’s voices shaping the way we deliver our services and we hope it encourages young people to have the confidence to get involved.

Valuable work experience in the kitchens allows pupils and staff to feel part of the school community.

As well as improving their health, sitting down to eat with their fellow pupils is also great for developing social and communication skills, which in turn will help their learning.

In the Year of Young People, it’s especially relevant to support projects such as this and we have committed £5 million over the next five years to the Tackling Poverty fund to continue key projects such as Hearty Lives which we know are making a real impact for young people and their families.

paisley from drone

Keeping busy with things that you enjoy is something that you should consider doing often. There are several ways that you can do so, including: engaging in social activities, personal hobbies, or playing sports. The latter can be a good choice as it’s a way of doing something fun as well as staying physically fit. As you likely already know, fitness is something that’s being encouraged for the whole nation as it has many benefits and can greatly enhance the quality and length of your life. For this reason, you should consider giving team sports a try. You will find a few specific ones below.

Netball

One team sport that you should put on your to-do-list is netball. For those who love games that require high-activity and friendly competition, this sport is ideal. The sole objective of netball is to pass the ball up the court and put it in the net. Some benefits of playing netball include better-toned legs, the chance to do social activities with teammates, the friendships that develop as a result and the simple fact that it can be tons of fun! As with most other sports, it is also something that is generally good for your overall health. You should know that contrary to popular belief, netball isn’t a sport that is restricted just to women, it’s one that any gender can play. If you happen to be convinced that it’s a sport worth trying, visit www.hulahub.com as they have hundreds of different classes you can join to get started.

Basketball

Similar to netball, another team sport that you should try is basketball. This is a popular sport that can be a lot of fun to engage in and can do wonders for your physical fitness. Some benefits of playing basketball include burning lots of calories, better cardiovascular health, a boost to the immune system, and better coordination. It is a sport that you should enjoy if you like interacting with other people as you’ll have numerous teammates that you can bond with over the activity and good team communication is very important to do well. It is important that you stay hydrated while playing and remember that the advised amount of water to drink each day is around 8 cups, or 2 litres.

Ice Hockey

Aside from the two mentioned above, ice hockey is another team sport that’s worth giving a go. It is also another sport that requires team spirit and friendly competition for all of the social beings out there.  It can be a lot of fun seeing as you’ll be doing an immense amount of skating so, like the other sports, you’ll get a good cardiovascular workout and keep your heart rate up whilst doing it, which is great for your overall health.

Team sports can be something that you look forward to doing on a regular or semi-regular basis. They provide the opportunity for you to forge friendships with different people as well as participate in an activity that you enjoy together. In light of this, you should consider trying some of the team sports mentioned above.

Youngsters are being encouraged to get up to all kinds of mischief…by taking part in this year’s Summer Reading Challenge.

Summer Reading Challenge at Paisley Library 26.10.18

The theme of this year’s Tesco Bank-sponsored Summer Reading Challenge is Mischief Makers and features characters, Dennis the Menace, Gnasher and their friends from the Beano comic.

Renfrewshire Libraries are encouraging youngsters to pay them a visit and take part in the Summer Reading Challenge by borrowing and reading six books of their choice and be given stickers and rewards the more books they read.

Summer Reading Challenge at Paisley Library 26.10.18

Local author, Lindsay Littleson was at Paisley’s Central Library to encourage kids to take part and tell them about her latest book, A Pattern of Secrets.

It’s free to take part in the Summer Reading Challenge and youngsters can also take part in a hunt for buried treasure by exploring their map of Beanotown.

Youngsters who complete the Summer Reading Challenge will also be entered into a prize draw to win cinema tickets. All of Renfrewshire Leisure’s 12 libraries and its Skoobmobile each have a pair of tickets to the movies as prizes, which have been donated by Paisley-based facilities maintenance company, Consilium Contracting Services.

https://www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk/blog/80-years-of-beano/

Chairperson of Renfrewshire Leisure’s board of trustees, Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes said: “The Summer Reading Challenge is an exciting way to encourage young people to read books.

“I hope parents and carers will encourage children to pay their local library a visit and as well as borrowing books they want to read, they can have some fun as well.”

https://www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk/blog/80-years-of-beano/

Super-fit great-gran Jean Whelan has become a legend at the gym where she trains three times week.

The energetic 84-year-old could put many men and women half her age to shame with a workout that includes tackling a full circuit on the latest equipment around.
Jean defies the stereotype of the old age pensioner with her attitude and determination to stay forever young, fit and healthy through exercise.
Every Monday, Thursday and Friday she dons her trainers and heads to Pro-Life Fitness Centre in Paisley where she is put through her paces under the watchful eye of her champion bodybuilding son Alex – who just happens to be 62.
And she doesn’t expect or want to get off lightly as she works on the various up-to-the-minute machines to strengthen her back, arms and chest one day and legs and shoulders the next.
It is a rigorous routine but it puts a smile on her face because it’s helping her cope with life without her husband of 60 years and the loneliness that can bring – even if you have a loving caring family around you. 
Jean, who lives in a flat in the South End of the town, said: “The gym isn’t just for the young ones. It’s for people of all ages. Look at me. I’m loving it. I can’t wait to get my trainers on and head down there.
“I’m sure when some of my neighbours see me heading off with my kit they think I’m nuts but I feel good. I enjoy pushing myself and achieving what I can to the best of my abilities.
“I was diagnosed with arthritis in my back years ago and used to think I would end up in wheelchair one day but the exercises have helped with the pain and my back is improving.
“It’s not only the physical benefits of training I enjoy it’s the mental health advantages too. I lost my husband two years ago and it was awful. I missed him so much.
“I would be sitting there thinking Alex Snr should be here with me and despite all the care and attention in the world from my family I felt lonely. I was sad and could easily have just hidden away.
Jean went on: “I’m glad I didn’t. Coming down here has helped me so much. It keeps me fit, the staff and members are like one big family. I feel like the Queen some days as so many people wave to me and I wave back.
“My message to anyone out there hesitating about coming along to the gym for whatever reason – whether it’s confidence, age, weight issues, lack of fitness or ability – is forget all of that. Just take that first step.”
Well known son Alex, who opened his first gym in Espedair Street, 28 years ago, and gave over the running of Pro-Life Fitness Centre to Renfrewshire Sports Charity still volunteers there helping people of all abilities and from many different sports and none achieve their goals.
The seven times Scottish Body Building Champion and British Masters Body Building Champion, said: ”My mum works on 14 different machines using a programme specially developed for her. It’s something our trained staff  do for anyone here.
“In her case, and at her age, it is all about preventive maintenance using weight resistance equipment. She’s incredibly fit, has a smile on her face and has become a star at the gym. She really is an inspiration.
“Our doors are open to everyone-no matter age or ability- and we will give expert guidance to anyone who wants to come along and see what we’re all about. 
“There’s no pressure to be the best, to work at a certain pace, outdo anyone else. We’re here for everyone and I’m just lucky my mum is such an inspiration to everyone who walks through the doors of the centre.”
Pro-Life, based in New Sneddon Street, is offering a free day pass to any senior who would like to take that first move to a fitter, healthier, happier lifestyle. Just call 0141-889-5027 to organise.

Staff at St Paul’s Primary School and Foxlea Early Learning and Childcare Centre in Foxbar were given a sneak preview of their new shared £8.5 million shared campus this week.

St Pauls PS Handover 26.6.18

The facility will open to pupils and children in the new school year in August and staff were invited on a tour to familiarise themselves with the new school site.

St Pauls PS Handover 26.6.18

It was designed by Renfrewshire Council’s Property Services team following two years of engagement with the school communities and provides learning environments fit for modern and flexible teaching.

St Pauls PS Handover 26.6.18

St Paul’s will house 212 pupils, while an integrated communication unit has space for a further 24 at the shared campus, which was handed over by contractors Morrison Construction to Renfrewshire Council this week.

St Pauls PS Handover 26.6.18

The Early Learning and Childcare Centre has capacity for 80 pre-five children while an adult learning and literacy centre can house up to 10 students.

St Pauls PS Handover 26.6.18

Staff and children had a say on the the new campus colour scheme, choosing the red and grey school colours for  the social and reception areas and pale greens and grey in the learning spaces to provide a calm environment. They also had input in furniture choices and outdoor facilities including play equipment.

Head teacher of St Paul’s, Louise Maher said: “It’s fantastic to come on a tour with staff and see the finished building ahead of welcoming children and pupils back in August.

St Pauls PS Handover 26.6.18

“We are especially excited about seeing all our ideas become a reality as well as looking forward to the next chapter of school life in our wonderful new space. We can’t wait to move in.”

The campus features outdoor learning spaces, including a canopied area designed for use by smaller groups of pupils to carry out a range of activities such as science experiments.

All formal learning spaces link directly to covered outdoor spaces, which, in turn, connect to outdoor play areas.

There is an all-weather sports surface and a forest area where children can create ‘mud kitchens’ and allotments.

The building is on one level and has access to the pitch from the gym, as well as a bike and scooter rack to encourage children to ride to school, with the art work designed by one of the pupils.

The playground has graphics and games painted into the ground surface and as well as a gym, a centrally located studio provides space for dance and movement classes.

Renfrewshire Council’s Education Convener, Councillor Jim Paterson, said: “We are investing in a number of new build schools that also invest in our children and teachers.

“We are committed to ensuring our children and young people have the best learning environments so they can achieve their full potential and St Paul’s shared campus is a great demonstration of this.

“It’s a campus fit for the 21st century, with classrooms which are internet ready and will accommodate the use of modern teaching aids.

“With outdoor learning an instrumental part of the school curriculum, pupils also have access to external spaces which allow them to engage with the world around them.”

Morrison Construction’s Managing Director for Central Scotland, Eddie Robertson, said: ‘‘What better way to celebrate handing over the keys to this fantastic school than to welcome staff with a tour of the high-quality education facilities we have delivered.

“We are proud of the lasting benefit this project will provide the community, which positively impacted on the local economy by supporting 14 work placements, five apprenticeships completions and creating seven new jobs during construction.’

Schools across Renfrewshire are recording improvements in pupil’s reading, writing and numeracy skills thanks to the innovative projects introduced as part of the Scottish Government’s Attainment Challenge.

Renfrewshire is one of nine areas chosen to receive a share of a £750 million pot to help close the gap in results between the most and least affluent pupils.

Since it became an Attainment Challenge authority in 2016, there have been improvements in pupils’ reading age scores across primary three to seven.

Data gathered also indicates that the gap in attainment between the most and least deprived pupils has been reducing in listening, talking, reading and writing, and numeracy measurements.

The number of children in Renfrewshire schools achieving the expected levels in these disciplines is also above the national average according to statistics gathered from schools.

Head teacher of St Catherine’s Primary School in Paisley, Emma Henry, said: “We looked at additional staff to support early intervention for primary one and two and to deliver targeted support for individuals and groups, which has resulted in increased attainment across the school.”

She added: “We’re always looking for all children to be moving forward as we have high expectations for all of our pupils.”

The school also set up nurture drop in sessions which allowed children time to talk through their feelings.

Emma Henry added: “It’s not just the improvements in literacy and numeracy which gives the children confidence and self-esteem and allows them to access all of the curriculum, it’s also about their health and wellbeing. “

St Catherine’s is one of the primary schools to have adopted the Renfrewshire Literacy Approach, an innovative programme to develop literacy skills in partnership with the University of Strathclyde.

The school has set up reading cafes and invited parents to create positive relationships with teachers.

The head teacher added: “We’re definitely in a great place and the attainment challenge allows us to improve year on year and think outside the box.”

Head Teacher of Auchenlodment Primary School in Johnstone, Gerry Carlton, said: “Two of our staff have been involved in Renfrewshire’s Classroom Assistants’ training and it’s been mind-blowing the knowledge and skills they’ve developed.  After training, their confidence has grown and they’re now leading a lunchtime story club and an afterschool numeracy club.”

The school has also taken part in training of teaching methods of primary one pupils with Strathclyde University, which means that children now learn through play.

The head teacher added: “It encourages children to be more independent and to be leaders of their own learning. We’ve noticed a positive impact on primary one attainment and in staff confidence.”

The school also run family learning sessions where parents are invited in to improve their knowledge of reading strategies and are then given the opportunity to read with their children.

Castlehead High School in Paisley introduced measures to improve attendance , including individual attendance plans and a reward scheme for second years.

Head teacher Martin MacDonald said: “It has worked very well and attendance has increased with pupils this session attending an extra 5,800 periods. The more you attend, the better the qualifications you get, it’s as simple as that.”

The school also appointed a Principal teacher of wellbeing who has led a system of ‘peer champions’, where sixth year pupils work with first years across literacy, numeracy and wellbeing, as well as ‘forest schools’, where pupils learn how to build fires and shelters.

One of the areas being worked on is the impact of children’s learning as they move from primary to secondary schools.

Renfrewshire now has 10 transition teachers in place, while almost 250 teachers and support staff have taken part in professional learning so they can better support children and young people making the move.

Councillor Jim Paterson, Renfrewshire’s Education and Children’s Service Convener said: “One of our key aims is to close the attainment gap between the least and the most deprived children, as well as raising attainment for all.

“Early indications show that the initiatives developed in our schools as part of the attainment challenge are making a real difference and children and young people are making significant progress.

“We are committed to ensuring every child reaches their full potential no matter what their background or start in life is, and the attainment challenge is clearly helping give children and young people the same opportunity to succeed.”

Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, visited a street scene set up in the UK Parliament last week by the charity Guide Dogs to learn more about the challenges that people with sight loss face when walking the streets.

At the event, the MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North dodged a pavement parked car, stumbled across a variety of street clutter, and visited a “shared space” area lacking safety features such as kerbs and pedestrian crossings. They heard from guide dog owners that dealing with these obstacles can leave them scared and reluctant to go out.

According to a Guide Dogs survey, 97% of blind and partially sighted people have encountered obstacles on the pavement. The most common obstacles were cars parked on the pavement: 9 out of 10 have had problems with pavement parking. Pavement parked cars force pedestrians into the road to face oncoming traffic. This is particularly dangerous for people with vision impairments, parents with pushchairs, wheelchair users and other disabled people.

In separate research by YouGov for Guide Dogs, two out of three drivers (65%) admitted having parked on the pavement and nearly half (46%) were confused by the law on pavement parking.

Guide Dogs is campaigning for a law to make pavement parking an offence, except on streets where local authorities agree that it is safe for pedestrians. This is already the case in London, but elsewhere across the UK, councils struggle to tackle unsafe pavement parking.

The Transport (Scotland) Bill, recently published by the Scottish Government, includes provisions on pavement parking.

Gavin Newlands MP commented:

“No one should be forced to risk themselves in traffic because of obstructions on the pavement. I have heard from my constituents how cars parking on the pavements and other obstructions affect people from all backgrounds, particularly disabled people, the elderly and those with prams.

“I welcome the plans to introduce a law in Scottish parliament which will hopefully end the problem of pavement parking. We should all be able to walk the streets without being obstructed by cars parked on pavements.”

Niall Foley, Engagement Manager at Guide Dogs Scotland, commented:

“Too often, our streets can be cluttered with dangerous obstacles for blind and partially sighted people.

“The worst offenders are cars parked on the pavement. If you have a vision impairment, pavement parked cars aren’t just a nuisance, they can force you to step out into the road and put you in real danger.

“In most parts of the UK, the law on pavement parking is unclear and difficult to enforce. We want pavement parking to be the exception so pedestrians can rely on their path being clear. When drivers themselves don’t know the rules, that is a strong sign the law needs to change.

We welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to tackle this serious problem, and are pleased to see the publication of the Transport Bill which includes restrictions on pavement parking.”