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Thread: Education Mess In Scotland After 10 Years of SNP Control

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
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    As opposed to the 48,745 who didn't write?
    With respect I find that a truly fascinating post from an ex senior(?) civil servant. Wow. Just. Wow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
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    As opposed to the 48,745 who didn't write?
    You do realise teachers are not supposed to comment in public on anything to do with education or politics that can be perceived as a criticism of their employers? That teacher took a big risk. There are even cases of teachers being sanctioned because their spouses have written letters to the media.

    8
    Hibs are standing on the brink of history...

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    Quote Originally Posted by SKII View Post
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    You do realise teachers are not supposed to comment in public on anything to do with education or politics that can be perceived as a criticism of their employers? That teacher took a big risk. There are even cases of teachers being sanctioned because their spouses have written letters to the media.

    8
    It's the same in the NHS and the police. There are numerous accounts of employees of both being "edged" out of employment and becoming "unemployable".

    On the other hand there are representative organisations in both areas and others that let rip with both barrels on and off the record criticising the government and their policies.
    Space to let

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    Quote Originally Posted by SKII View Post
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    Genuinely out of interest, what are the tasks you think they do?
    When I was at school, all guidance and registration teachers were normal teachers (in my specific case, one did Home Economics and the other did Craft, Design and Technology); as were the department heads for the like of Chemistry, Physics and Biology. The exceptions to this rule were, in the main, the head teacher and his deputy.

    As for the tasks they do, I doubt it’d be wise to compare them to what I witnessed as a young lad. The explosion of the Internet, hyper-aware parents, league tables, top-down pressures from government, and things like the ICPC will all have some form of organisational influence, be it big or small. I suspect your mileage may vary depending on school, council and area and it’s also important to note that I was educated prior to the millennium – as many on these forums were.

    Out of interest, this is what it starts with on the Scottish government website regarding ‘guidance’:

    ”The provision of effective school-based pupil support has implications not only for primary and secondary education but also for other Government initiatives which aim to raise attainment, reduce absence from school, improve social inclusion, mainstream pupils/young people with additional learning needs, provide individualised learning plans, ease the transition from school to employment, reduce youth crime, and improve the urban environment. There are also implications for other professions as schools develop increasing links with educational psychologists, social and community workers, the Careers Service, health workers, community police, and parents to help them support young people with complex needs”.

    Other conclusions from the study point out that there are different ways to provide guidance, that it depends hugely on the local authority, and that there are largely two models that are seen with little to no preference between the two. For those genuinely interested in the subject, here’s the link:

    Supporting pupils: A study of guidance and pupil support in Scottish schools


    From that, I think we can reasonably assume that guidance teachers, depending on local authority, are certainly looking at being full-time guidance teachers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
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    So the brave school teacher who sent in his open letter to The Scotsman last week has completely got it wrong?
    Maybe, maybe not. I’m not passing judgement on a single teacher, who can only call what they see and is unlikely to have much knowledge of what else is going on.

    The point to note is that being a teacher doesn’t qualify you to critique political policy, or the organisation of local councils who are, by and large, in charge of schooling provisions in said local area. Is it merely a coincidence that Mr. Wilson happens to come from an area that’s heavily influenced by the SNP (all but one MP in the local authority, and all but one MSP)?

    Look at his letter. Every time he says “teachers”, he’s projecting his view onto all teachers – 40,000+ of them, and he’s not in a position to comment.

    But, as it happens, I’ve read his letter in full. The most significant contribution he makes is, specifically, in his criticism of the Curriculum for Excellence, how it’s designed, how it’s organised, and how it’s assessed. I find the commentary on those aspects both lucid, and revealing of an education system that simply isn’t built to work. It’s clear throughout the letter that Mr. Wilson much preferred the old Standard Grades that I (and probably most people here) have direct experience of, but some of his criticism is extremely valuable.

    Personally, however, I reckon your haste to believe what that teacher posted is due to your tribalised dislike of the SNP.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
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    It's the same in the NHS and the police.
    And those in, or contracted to, the military.

    I was… “Advised” not to write a letter about the utterly inappropriate appointment of Ruth Davidson as an Honorary Colonel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zellviren View Post
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    Maybe, maybe not. I’m not passing judgement on a single teacher, who can only call what they see and is unlikely to have much knowledge of what else is going on.
    So the teacher who works within the education environment is "unlikely to have much knowledge of what else is going on" within his profession but you absolutely do?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
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    So the teacher who works within the education environment is "unlikely to have much knowledge of what else is going on" within his profession but you absolutely do?
    I refer you to my earlier comment:

    "Personally, however, I reckon your haste to believe what that teacher posted is due to your tribalised dislike of the SNP".

    You seem unnecessarily determined to just accept, without any critical analysis, what one (yes, one) teacher in Dunfermline thinks about the state of Scottish education, when that teacher may have absolutely no knowledge of what happens in other schools, in other local authorities, or how current policies are supposed to ease the problems he’s experiencing.

    In the very piece of mine you quoted (which was quite a wide-ranging post, actually), I even started with “Maybe, maybe not”. By that, I mean to say that he might be well-informed about what individual policies are impacting his job specifically, but there’s little evidence of that in his letter. He makes too many sweeping statements where he tries to tie in all teachers, which is something he is absolutely not qualified to do; unless you’re suggesting that he has psychic powers that are well-enough attuned to allow him to read the thoughts of every teacher in Scotland?

    Clearly, you’re not saying that. Well, one would hope.

    Mr. Wilson’s letter is, however, extremely compelling in its criticism of the Curriculum for Excellence, something else I allude to in the above post that you’ve clearly not really bothered to engage with much, I suspect because of your frothing, rabid loathing for the SNP. He describes a number of significant exigencies that are absolutely relevant, because they’re logically going to be universal. He talks about the problems with non-standard curricula, the badly weighted difficulty curve with certain subjects, and the frankly bizarre criteria for assessment.

    I actually intend to go through the letter carefully, in order to pluck out the key criticisms he makes about the Curriculum of Excellence and how they could be addressed.

    You never know, perhaps the opposition could actually craft an opposing policy rather than following the “Opposition for Dummies” guidebook and just mindlessly complaining.

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    The SNP are an austerity party, and that is reflected in their bungling of the education system. They masqueraded as an anti-austerity party on a wave of nationalism and are now being seen for what they really are. It was only because of the weakness of Scottish Labour that the SNP filled that vacuum, as Kezia Dugdale openly shafted Corbyn and shamefully, the Tories actually picked up parliamentary seats north of the border. The tide is now turning...

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    Quote Originally Posted by jock3 View Post
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    The SNP are an austerity party, and that is reflected in their bungling of the education system. They masqueraded as an anti-austerity party on a wave of nationalism and are now being seen for what they really are. It was only because of the weakness of Scottish Labour that the SNP filled that vacuum, as Kezia Dugdale openly shafted Corbyn and shamefully, the Tories actually picked up parliamentary seats north of the border. The tide is now turning...
    I'm sorry, but this is fundamentally untrue and comes across as laughably partisan.

    "Austerity" is the economic dogma that believes the cutting of public spending leads to economic prosperity for… Well, nobody other than those already wealthy. This is because austerity has never worked with regard to economic growth, not once, anywhere it’s been tried. This is for some fairly obvious reasons, but also for a lot of subtle macroeconomic ones. The SNP campaigned against austerity (the cutting of public services) during each election over the last seven years, and have been electorally successful as a result of it.

    But think about the policies enacted north of the border.

    Scots don’t pay tuition fees for further education. We don’t pay for prescriptions. Our NHS isn’t being privatized piece by piece, and performs better than anywhere else in Britain. Right to buy is being ended in Scotland. The multi-occupancy charge, or “bedroom tax”, is alleviated by the discretionary housing payment. Scots get more free child-care than the English or Welsh. There are no bridge tolls in Scotland. Public sector pay reviews see their recommendations enacted. Council tax was frozen. Scots are taxed less than similar earners in England and Wales (overall, not merely counting income tax). Our teachers are paid slightly more because they’re public servants.

    These are not (repeat, not) the policies of an austerity party.

    They’re the opposite policies of an austerity party.

    The Labour UK manifesto that was recently such a success, promises to do things Scots already have due to the SNP.

    And let’s not forget, that the overwhelming majority of these things are paid for by the discretionary funds that the SNP have only a finite amount to allocate. The Barnett formula provides population-based levels of public spending to Scotland, unless you’re propping up your government with bungs to the Democratic Unionist Party of course, and that means that Scotland is allocated funds that it can spend on education, health, law and order and the other areas where Barnett works. We get less than we need for the NHS because we’re not privatising it, and we already spend a bit more per head on education than the UK government spends in England.

    It’s also worth mentioning, of course, that the SNP couldn’t actually be an “austerity party” even if it wanted to. The reason for that is because the SNP doesn’t have control over the Scottish economy. It can’t change national insurance, corporation tax, the minimum wage, capital gains tax, fuel and excise duties or welfare payments. They’re all reserved. The SNP also can’t borrow or print money (quantitative easing), reduce defence spending, or amend inheritance tax, business rates or VAT. They can’t realistically change income tax either, despite technically having the power to do so, because it would lead to more people moving into paying themselves dividends that are collected by (you guessed it) the treasury, and not the Scottish government. It’d also be pointless to try and amend a single tax when you’ve control over nothing else.

    All of this is public knowledge, and there’s really no excuse for being ignorant of it.

    But let’s stick to the topic of education, and run down where we are with that. The SNP took over in 2007, but the PISA scores have been going since 2000. Up until the change from Labour, Reading and Maths were in steeper decline than now and Science was also on the way down (but levelled off). Since then, the slump has been arrested, and even reversed in the case of Reading, but has slipped again in the 2015 numbers which was also the period where the OECD were largely positive about the Curriculum for Excellence, but suggested there were challenges.

    But what would opposition parties do with education? Luckily, we can take an educated (hoho) guess at that.

    The Conservatives would likely introduce selective schools and academies which would exasperate the attainment gap we’re trying to eradicate, and put more public money into the hands of private trusts. That’s what they do in England. Labour have an education record to be “proud of” in Wales, where performance remains substantially below Scotland despite our decade of declining standards. No, thanks.

    And as for your jibe about nationalism, it's almost as if you don't recognise that Britain will be leaving the European Union, that Scotland voted to remain in, due to a "wave of nationalism". At least the Scottish independence push was civic rather than ethnic.

    Class dismissed.

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    Hundreds of places on teacher training courses unfilled - BBC News

    It kind of counters some of the almost SNP head office political statements about extra teachers posted elsewhere on this thread. All well and good opening up more places but if teaching doesn't compete with other graduate careers in terms of the pay and conditions these places are meaningless.
    Last edited by Smurf; 29-09-17 at 14:37.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zellviren View Post
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    The reason for that is because the SNP doesn’t have control over the Scottish economy. It can’t change national insurance, corporation tax, the minimum wage, capital gains tax, fuel and excise duties or welfare payments. They’re all reserved. The SNP also can’t borrow or print money (quantitative easing), reduce defence spending, or amend inheritance tax, business rates or VAT. They can’t realistically change income tax either, despite technically having the power to do so, because it would lead to more people moving into paying themselves dividends that are collected by (you guessed it) the treasury, and not the Scottish government. It’d also be pointless to try and amend a single tax when you’ve control over nothing else.
    So a yes or no answer please. Would education spending be higher right now if we were Independent?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
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    All well and good opening up more places but if teaching doesn't compete with other graduate careers in terms of the pay and conditions these places are meaningless.
    In general, I do think the Scottish government does a pretty questionable job of streaming teachers into the profession; but they're damned if they do, and damned if they don't. The same person will argue that teachers can't be recruited fast enough but, in the next breath, won't accept quicker methods because said teachers won't be "properly trained". The government can't win as far as the opposition and despicable Scottish media are concerned.

    But that doesn't excuse some of the frankly bizarre prerequisites. I can't for the life of me understand why there's a separate PGDE in Scotland that doesn't directly accredit to the English and Welsh PGCE, or other international qualifications. It's all very well saying that PGCE teachers can now go directly into teaching and do OJT, but that's another administrative burden that a new teacher, potentially learning a new curriculum, doesn't need.

    And what's the benefit?

    Are they learning new skills?

    We already know they're not (I've looked), so why not directly accredit that training and be done with it? Also, that's not the only problem they have with accreditation. I'm a professional training designer and deliverer, with several years of experience - none of said experience, or education, accredits in any way, shape or form. Were I to teach in England, post-military career, there's a route directly into teaching depending on your skills and capabilities. There is no such scheme in Scotland, where the only two routes are exactly the same for everyone, regardless of their history. It also depends on what your educational background is; my Honours degree doesn't actually get me into secondary teaching, where many degrees do, and other criteria mean that I'm going to be doing extra training irrespective of whether or not I want to do primary or secondary... And that's not including the PGDE.

    A little work in this regard, opening up better routes that recognise previous training or experience, could make a significant difference.

    But I do tend to think that your second point is, perhaps, where the biggest issue lies.

    It's all very well saying that you value teachers highly, and deeply appreciate their contribution to the country - but it's quite another thing to show them that you do. Scottish teachers are already paid more than their equivalents in England or Wales, but the Conservative public-sector pay cap is hitting extremely hard given the effort it takes to become a teacher, and what the reward is for the same effort in another sector. Add to that the additional workload you're taking on, the never-ending stream of initiatives that aren't actually to do with teaching, the hassle of new curricula and its implementation, and (perhaps most importantly) the truncated career development chain, and it's easy to see why people conclude "thanks; but no, thanks".

    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
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    So a yes or no answer please. Would education spending be higher right now if we were Independent?
    I'm sorry, but this is an absolutely absurd question.

    You're asking me to tell you something, definitively, when the answer belongs to an alternative reality that we've no history for in the three years since the vote, and cannot account for its development within that time frame. It also conveniently ignores that another election with a very different political result could well have been one result of independence, with a Scottish government holding a very different vision compared to the one we have now. We can't make an assessment about the financial settlements that were agreed upon at the time, bilateral agreements between us and the Nordic/Scandinavian countries we aspire to be, we've no idea what the governmental priority would end up as, and you think anyone, anywhere can answer your question?

    Get a grip. Seriously. Is this all the hard No's have left? Questions from fantasy land?

    All we can say is that it's extremely likely Scotland would be financially better off if independent, its government is more left-leaning that the one in Westminster, and that we already suspect it values teachers more because it pays them more as things stand.

    So, yes. Education spending would very likely be higher, but would be part of a significant series of public sector reforms post-independence. That's as good as any prediction can get.

    But you know what?

    At least I'd be voting for a government that could spend more on education, and would have control over Scotland's economy, if we were independent. That's infinitely preferable to what we have now, and I'd love to see a cogent argument to the contrary that doesn't quickly devolve to "WE CAN'T USE THE POUND" or "WE ARRU PEEPUL".

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    Freedom of Information has revealed that in East Lothian 3,074 teacher days were lost 2016-2017 as a result of "stress/anxiety, depression or work related stress.

    Up from 1,239 in 2013-2014.

    It must be their fast improving working environment...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
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    Freedom of Information has revealed that in East Lothian 3,074 teacher days were lost 2016-2017 as a result of "stress/anxiety, depression or work related stress.

    Up from 1,239 in 2013-2014.

    It must be their fast improving working environment...
    Do you have any figures from elsewhere for comparison? Private companies would be a bonus!
    Space to let

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
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    It must be their fast improving working environment...
    It could be any number of things.

    Between those two dates, for example, Britain voted to leave the European Union in a political decision that Scots voted against. How many teachers, teaching assistants, or other staff that work in schools are from the European Union?

    The request doesn't say.

    And are there other factors that could affect these numbers over the last three years, specifically in East Lothian? Economic, cultural factors or particular issues with certain schools that were paid for under Labour’s PFI schemes, for example?

    The request doesn’t say.

    And because education is the remit of local authorities, who actually runs East Lothian council? Once again, the report doesn’t say, so I’ll tell you.

    It’s MP is Martin Whitfield (Labour), while one of its two MSPs is Iain Gray (Labour) – the other is Colin Beattie of the SNP. The council itself just so happens to have a controlling party, albeit minority, and that controlling party is… You guessed it.

    Labour.

    The Leader is Willie Innes (Labour), the Provost is John McMillan (Labour) and the depute is Andy Forrest (Labour). The ENTIRE six-person cabinet belongs to, can I get a drumroll, Scottish Labour.

    The SNP are, in fact, in third place in East Lothian – even the Conservatives have more councillors than they do.

    It sounds to me like Scottish Labour have quite a bit of explaining to do to parents in East Lothian.

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    @Zellviren

    I kind of suspected you'd try and turn it into a defend the SNP - been in Scottish Government for ten years - and knock Labour so I held back something in my original post.

    In Fife Council that is run by the SNP there were 5,177 teacher working days lost as a result of "stress/anxiety, depression or work-related stress".

    Now obviously you'll attribute that to those ignorant racist Brexit voters....

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
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    Do you have any figures from elsewhere for comparison? Private companies would be a bonus!
    And what would be the relevance? This thread relates to Education and I am giving examples of a huge increase within the teaching profession of "stress/anxiety, depression or work related stress.".

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    Curious. It’s not about “defending” anyone (I don’t vote for, nor am a member of, the SNP), it’s about looking through the parliamentary smoke-screen and apportioning blame appropriately. For example:

    You’ve just cited the Fife Council that’s now run by the SNP.

    You’ve given them five months to address a problem that one can only logically assume was left behind by the previous administration, which was five years of Labour dominated (with support from the Conservative party and some independents) control. Do you think that’s appropriate? Do you think it’s fair? Did you think it was fair when certain individuals decried the equal pay scandal in Glasgow City Council, something that the Labour party HAD ALMOST 80 YEARS OF CONTROL TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT, and actually went to court over?

    It’s up to you.

    In East Lothian, your first example, the previous council from 2012 was (yep, you guessed it) Labour dominated, and in coalition with the Conservative party. The problems of 2017 will remain their fault and, given their appalling record, likely get worse with them retaining control.

    FFS, give people time to fix the problems they inherited.

    Donkey’s years of Labour neglect have run parts of Scotland into the ground, yet new councillors are supposed to fix them in less than half a year?

    Really?

    It’s excruciatingly hard to take this type of thing seriously, and I don’t take you for an idiot. I just find it hard to believe that anyone could reasonably expect a council with five months experience to magically solve endemic problems that often have decades of mismanagement, and in a time when budgets are getting squeezed by Westminster-imposed austerity.

    Then again, I'm not a Scottish Conservative, Liberal Democrat or Labour member.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smurf View Post
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    @Zellviren

    I kind of suspected you'd try and turn it into a defend the SNP - been in Scottish Government for ten years - and knock Labour so I held back something in my original post.

    In Fife Council that is run by the SNP there were 5,177 teacher working days lost as a result of "stress/anxiety, depression or work-related stress".

    Now obviously you'll attribute that to those ignorant racist Brexit voters....

    - - - Updated - - -



    And what would be the relevance? This thread relates to Education and I am giving examples of a huge increase within the teaching profession of "stress/anxiety, depression or work related stress.".
    Well the relevance could be that similar increases in "stress/anxiety, depression or work related stress." could be on a general increase across the population. It could make the East Lothian and or education figures better than average, worse than average or just normal.

    Without a comparison it's difficult to say if the figures you quote are a cause for celebration or despair.
    Space to let

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
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    Without a comparison it's difficult to say if the figures you quote are a cause for celebration or despair.
    Personally, I tend to think a doubling of anxiety-related problems (which the numbers hint) could only ever be a cause for despair, no matter the comparison to another sector. I do get your point, though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zellviren View Post
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    Personally, I tend to think a doubling of anxiety-related problems (which the numbers hint) could only ever be a cause for despair, no matter the comparison to another sector. I do get your point, though.
    Indeed but from a quick scan of stats it's perhaps not as bad as it first appears. Yesterday was mental health day so there's lots to read.

    This table was among those articles:

    Mental Health Statistics in the UK 1 in 6 people in the last week experienced a common mental health problem.

    7.8% of people in Britain meet the criteria for the diagnosis of anxiety and depression.

    Between 4 and 10% of people will experience depression in their lifetime.

    Mixed anxiety and depression have been estimated to cause one-fifth of days lost from work in the country.

    One person in fifteen has made a suicide attempt at some point in their life.

    Suicide is the most common cause of death for men aged 20 to 49 in England and Wales. 75% of the suicides in Great Britain in 2016 were male.

    Read more: http://metro.co.uk/2017/10/10/world-mental-health-day-concerning-statistics-about-mental-health-6987350/?ito=cbshare
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/

    The 4th point there is saying that 20% of work days are lost across the UK. It could mean that East Lothian, at 13%, are on top of the situation or at least performing well against the UK average.


    I was diagnosed about 7 years ago and made a significant contribution to the stats!!! First time the doctor signed me off I was asked what I wanted to be signed off with! The actual figures might be considerably worse than the official ones.
    Space to let

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