Animate in the news(papers) – Are school leavers ill equipped for a life of work?

The second of our blogs for the Herald Business magazine came out in June. In it, Animate partner Jo reflected on whether our education system prepares young people for work:

It is incontrovertible that the future of work will be shaped by increasing digitalisation, artificial intelligence and robotics. There will be little need for employees to undertake repetitive work and the evolution of intelligent networked machines will increasingly impact on the service sector. These prospects are both exciting and terrifying – will they lead to more leisure time or to mass unemployment and migration?

Finland is renowned for achieving high levels of literacy and numeracy by investing in teachers (many have Masters Degrees), prioritising early childhood care, and giving schools autonomy. The curriculum additionally puts an emphasis on the arts, and outdoor activities – and has minimal homework and tests. They are changing their approach because they recognise the world is changing and they need to better equip children with the competences needed.

So where does this leave us in Scotland? The Curriculum for Excellence encourages more collaborative and project based approaches to learning but we still have a culture of training young people to pass exams. The Scottish Government has recognised attainment is slipping and that there is a widening gap between those who achieve and those who don’t. It has committed itself to delivering excellence and equity by closing the attainment gap between children living in the most and least deprived areas. There is much to be hopeful about.

The Pupil Equity Fund (PEF) is a recent innovation which the Scottish Government allocates to schools with children in P1 to S3 most affected by the poverty-related attainment gap. It gives headteachers the autonomy to respond to local needs. For the most deprived children this is a lifeline.

One of our Animate team is on the board of With Kids, a charity which provides play therapy to children aged eight to 11 and support to families in Glasgow, West Lothian and Edinburgh. With Kids has been approached by schools newly in receipt of PEF in the east end and north of Glasgow. To give these resources directly to headteachers is a bold step, and one which hopefully signifies a new level of trust in the profession’s capacity to innovate and provide the conditions that support learning and increased attainment.

You can read the full article from Herald Business magazine here

Does it matter? Decision making by people with learning disabilities

Animate partners Richard and Ian have completed research, with People First (Scotland), on the views and experiences of people who have a learning disability on decision making.

The research sought to answer the question ‘can supported decision-making for people with learning disabilities offer a practical, safe and realistic alternative to substitute decision-making?‘ Interviews with 128 people were performed by researchers who, themselves, also had a learning disability, whilst a review of relevant literature and stakeholder interviews examined the international and Scottish contexts.

The research was made possible by the Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning (DRILL) programme, which is funded by the Big Lottery.

You can download the full report here: ‘Does it matter: Decision-making by people with learning disabilities

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Merging – or integrating – health and social care

A recent Localis report ‘Rebooting Health and Social Care Integration: An agenda for more person centred care’ includes the following insight from a former Department of Health adviser:

“If you’re flying to Singapore, but have to change airlines en route, at no point does anyone suggest the airlines merge. We put the passenger in charge and the airlines build it around them.”

The report’s author acknowledges what is clearly true: ‘a patient, service user (or passenger) doesn’t care how it all works, as long it works.’

Similarly, when people expect newcomers to ‘integrate’ into a community they join, they don’t expect them to somehow combine with existing community members. Instead, they use integration to refer to people following common norms or systems.

These analogies raise an important question for health and social care integration in Scotland. Is the best approach to ‘merge’ NHS and local authority functions, or to ensure they operate in such a way that users see a seamless service?

Above all, our focus should be on ensuring health and social care integration gives the person receiving care or treatment greater independence and control.

You can read the Localis report ‘Rebooting Health and Social Care Integration: An agenda for more person centred care’ here.

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Contributing to national discussion and debate

We’ve been asked by Andrea Pearson, a freelance journalist, to contribute to a series of articles reflecting on ‘big ideas’ in the news. The first one was published a couple of weeks ago in the Herald Business magazine. In it, Animate partner Jo adds her reflections on the idea of a Universal Basic Income to those of business leaders from across sectors. 

The concept of a Universal Basic Income is currently attracting attention. As automation concentrates wealth into smaller groups, this proposal would see taxes pay for every adult to receive an income.
On the one hand it simplifies the welfare system, frees people to work hours that suit them and
enables them to care for others. On the other hand it would cost a fortune and make work
less attractive. The Business HQ panel puts Universal Basic Income under the spotlight.

Read more…Herald Business HQ-Universal Basic Income

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Animating assets

Animating Assets was a research and learning project that explored what difference working in asset-based way made in communities and services. We were involved as part of a team brought together by the Scottish Community Development Centre and Glasgow Centre for Population Health. The project explored what being assets-based means in practice in two locations in Edinburgh and two in Glasgow. It also developed tools and frameworks to help people evaluate their practice.

As part of What Works Scotland’s series on asset-based community development, Dr Jennifer McLean, Public Health Programme Manager at the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, discusses the work further on the What Works Scotland website.

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Our role in improving health and social care

Animate partners Joette and Jo became Improvement Associates with Health Improvement Scotland last year. Here they reflect on their experiences and learning.

Health Improvement Scotland is the agency tasked with driving improvements that support the highest possible quality of care for the people of Scotland. Their Improvement Associates support local and national projects identified by HIS which help partners to achieve the nine national health and wellbeing outcomes.

The application process to become an Improvement Associate was onerous, but it really got us thinking. Not only did we have to detail our experience but we had to describe our approach to improvement, how we defined the effectiveness of our practice and what we had learned.

We are now part of a team of around 30 practitioners with various skills who are supporting health and social care integration in one way or another.  We get together every few months to hear from Health Improvement Scotland about their priorities and to share our sense of what is happening around integration across the whole which gives us an interesting oversight.

Jo is facilitating the What Matters to You Social Movement gatherings, for all those involved in person centred working and co-production, which culminate in an event for up to 250 people at the end of February. For more information go to

We are also working on a couple of projects in collaboration with Cathy Sharp. The first one is an evaluation of the Real Time/Right Time initiative which involves a few health boards in Scotland experimenting with getting and acting on feedback from patients about the care they are receiving immediately or very soon after treatment. Patients are asked directly about their care, either by a nurse on the ward or by another practitioner. We are visiting hospitals in Glasgow and Lanarkshire to find out more about how they are getting on.

The second project, which kicks off shortly, is taking us into new territory…looking at what care homes have been doing to  reduce pressure ulcers.



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