Shona's Weekly Roundup - 19th February 2021
I hope you find my latest newsletter aimed at keeping you up to date with my parliamentary activity and provide you with a general picture of what’s been going on in Parliament, as well as provide an update on the 2021 Holyrood election campaign of interest.
As always if you have any questions and comments about what’s going on in parliament or anything else in the newsletter please do not hesitate to get in touch via email@example.com
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Register to Vote and Sign Up for a Postal Vote:
As the Scottish Parliament election in May fast approaches, make sure that you have registered to vote at your current address. You can register at: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
With all of the uncertainty around Covid at the moment, lots of people are signing up for a postal vote. You can download a form to send to the Electoral Registration Office at: https://www.snp.org/postal-vote/
Encouragingly, infection rates across Scotland are continuing to fall and is now estimated to be about 1 in 180, the lowest of the UK nations, the continuing reduction in infection is testament to the way in which we have and continue to follow the advice on how to best minimise the risks to us all by following the simple, practical steps we can all take.
It's difficult for us all at the moment, especially when we start hoping there is an end in sight to the current lockdown measures, but we've already made such an effort, so lets keep it up, it's working.
At this week's COVID statement, in recognition of the continuing fall in infection rate, the First Minister provided further optimism by stating:
"The Scottish Government is currently preparing a revised strategic framework, which will set out in much more detail when and how we might gradually emerge from the lockdown. We hope to publish the new framework next week, probably at this time, following discussions with the other parties in Parliament and with business organisations, trade unions, third sector bodies and others.
I will of course keep you updated as to the details of the roadmap, when they are announced.
Safe Return to Schools: Support for Disadvantaged Children
Further positive news was announced by the First Minister regarding the phased safe return to school, to begin on the 22nd of February. The main aspects of this first phase include:
Full time return for pre-school children in early learning and childcare settings and for children in P1-3.
Part time return for senior phase pupils - S4, S5 and S6 - on a limited basis, for essential in-school practical work only.
Small increase for additional support needs where there is a demonstrable and immediate need.
All other pupils (except vulnerable children and children of key workers, who have already been attending school) will continue remote learning from home at this stage, continuing until at least the start of March.
You can find more detailed information here https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-schools-reopening/pages/purpose-and-background/
I welcomed the announcement and asked First Minister Nicola Sturgeon about the extra support being provided to those from more deprived backgrounds and vulnerable groups, who may have suffered disproportionately as a result of Covid-19.
More info about the arrangements is available at:
Shona Robison (Dundee City East) (SNP):
We all want to see a safe return to nurseries and schools, and we understand the importance of that for education and overall wellbeing. I support the approach that has been set out today. The First Minister will be aware of the various studies that have shown that the learning of those who come from more deprived communities has suffered disproportionately as a result of Covid-19. Will she say a bit more about what actions the Government is taking to ensure that those vulnerable groups receive the extra support that they need and deserve?
The First Minister:
That is one the most important questions in the whole of the situation that we are grappling with right now. As we did prior to the pandemic, we are targeting additional support for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. As we have said previously, we have supplied devices to support digital learning at home, and provided support for home-school link workers to maintain regular contact with children. We have also supported the delivery of summer learning and support programmes, including family support workers, provision of food, and additional learning materials. We are also investing, and have invested during the past few years, in the Scottish attainment challenge, which includes money that councils have been able to use to deal with the poverty-related impacts of Covid. Those are important issues that will not go away as we start to come out of the Covid situation. They will require attention and investment for some time to come.
Doing Politics Differently – The Report of the Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland
I spoke in the debate following the publication of 'Doing Politics Differently - The Report of the Citizens' Assembly of Scotland', which you can view at: https://www.citizensassembly.scot/main-report The assembly set up by the Scottish Government to enhance direct democracy and build upon our party's continuing commitment to community empowerment, brought together 100 people from across all walks of life and tasked them with producing a report on 'what kind of future Scotland do we want to see'.
It was on the whole a very consensual debate, in which , the Government's motion, aimed at committing the next Government and Parliament to take forward the recommendations of the report, was adopted.
As I said in my speech:
'We owe it to the assembly, the people of Scotland and future generations to continue a journey that we have only just set off on, and to grasp the opportunity to empower our citizens assembly by listening and doing politics differently. I look forward to hearing the rest of the speeches this afternoon.'
Both Votes SNP
In 2016, the SNP increased its constituency vote, but we lost our majority and ended up with fewer pro-independence seats. It was the list vote that got the SNP over the majority line in 2011. Scotland’s future is in your hands. Make it #BothVotesSNP for #IndyRef2.
That's all for this week. As ever, if you have any queries or if I can help with anything, please don't hesitate to get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org
Yours for Scotland,