General Reports and Other Publications

ScotGov: The recently published Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey on smoking, drinking and drug use by 13 & 15 year olds underlines the need for the tough action the Scottish government is taking in these areas. The figures show a decline in smoking by girls and a decline in the number of young people who had drunk alcohol in the last week.  However, it also shows that too many young people continue to smoke, drink and take drugs– See also ‘Policy Statements and Initiatives’ for related article on alcohol pricing.
Press release ~ Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey ~ Alcohol Information Scotland ~ SAADAT ~ NHS QIS Scotland ~ Youth Alcohol Commission ~ Health Scotland - Alcohol ~ ScotGov - Alcohol ~ Pilot scheme to restrict sales of alcohol
CRC: People in rural England are at risk of constantly playing digital ‘catch up’ unless there is a firm commitment to improving communications access warns a new report.  ‘Mind the Gap − Digital England: a rural perspective’ contains a series of recommendations to Government from the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) to ensure an effective & sustainable communications future for rural England.
The report includes an independent analysis of rural connectivity issues which is the first time this has been done for Next Generation Access on a consistent national basis.  It is also part of the organisation’s contribution to the Digital Britain report and identifies 4 key areas that it believes must be tackled as a priority:
* education & lifelong learning
* business development
* social & community cohesion
* equitable access to services
Press release ~ ‘Mind the Gap − Digital England: a rural perspective’ ~ Commission for Rural Communities ~ Ofcom - Next Generation Access ~ Related news item ~ Digital Britain
MoD: The MoD has issued an initial response to the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) report into the Type 45 Destroyer programme. One of the report’s criticisms is that that the Sea Viper missile system will not have been fired from a Type 45 Destroyer prior to the ship entering service and, to quote the PAC press release,   ‘Persistent over-optimism and underestimation of the technical challenge, combined with inappropriate commercial arrangements, led to burgeoning costs and serious delays’.

The PAC report follows an audit undertaken by the National Audit Office (NAO) into the Type 45 Destroyer programme.  The NAO published its own report in Mar 09.
The prime role of the Type 45 Destroyer will be Air Defence, but it will also be able to act as a base platform for a deployable Headquarters, from which to Command operations.  The Type 45 will be able to embark up to 60 troops (over & above its own complement) and their equipment, and support them with a modern medical facility that can deliver surgical capability. 
Type 45 also has a large flight deck that can accommodate Helicopters up to and including the size of a Chinook.  The ship can also take up to 700 people if necessary to support a civilian evacuation from war zones or natural disasters.
MoD press release ~ PAC press release ~ PAC: Ministry of Defence: Type 45 Destroyer ~ NAO: Type 45 Destroyer
ESRC: A drop in the value of some older people’s savings & investments during the current economic crisis will worsen the financial difficulties already felt by many when their partner dies.  New research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council into the financial implications of bereavement highlights the potentially devastating economic consequences of a partner’s death.

One in five people fall below the official poverty line following the death of their partner.  
People, whose partners had been in paid work, reported the largest income falls, mainly affecting those under pension age.
Women with or without children were more at risk of financial decline than men and 40% of women pensioners were in poverty immediately after bereavement.  While some of these experiences of poverty were short-lived, bereaved women were more likely to experience poverty lasting up to three years after the death.
Researchers conclude that some financial difficulties following death of a partner can be prevented; others can be avoided.  Policymaking must address the immediate circumstances of people experiencing bereavement.
Press release ~ ‘Financial implications of death of a partner’ ~ Social Policy Research Unit 4-page Briefing ~ ESRC Society Today
ESRC: The effect of anxiety on academic performance is not always obvious but new research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council suggests that there may be hidden costs.  The research found that anxious individuals find it harder to avoid distractions and take more time to turn their attention from one task to the next than their less anxious peers.

In addition, the study showed that anxious individuals often perform at a comparable level to non-anxious ones but only do so at a greater cost in terms of effort or perhaps long term stress.
Press release ~ Anxiety, attention and cognitive performance
Ofsted: The school’s philosophy, a supportive & stable school environment, and strong relationships between the school & parents are important factors in preventing very young children from being excluded from school, according to a report published by Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills.
Very few schools exclude children aged under 7, but some do.  The report - The exclusion from school of children aged four to seven - reveals that teaching young children how to behave well and how to get on with each other, coupled with effective management of minor disruptive behaviour were key to reducing or avoiding the use of such exclusions.
Press release ~ The exclusion from school of children aged four to seven ~ Steer report on behaviour and DCSF responseTeachers’ guidance on their powers and rights ~ Guidance for local authorities ~ Training resources ~ In play and leisure ~ In children’s homes ~ In extended services ~ On journeys
DECC: An extra 25GW of offshore wind energy could be accommodated around the UK’s shores, in addition to the 8GW already built or planned, Energy Minister Lord Hunt has claimed. The findings, a result of the Government’s Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) will enable the Crown Estate to proceed with the third round of leasing in UK’s waters for offshore wind farms.
The new licensing regime for the cables to connect offshore wind farms to the mainland started last week.  The competitive tender process, run by Ofgem, has the potential to save generators £1bn by getting the best deal.
In addition, the Government has published - A Prevailing Wind: Advancing UK Offshore Wind Deployment - which sets out work that will enable the necessary expansion of the industry.
The UK intends to join the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) shortly and aims to sign the official agreement as soon as possible.  
Press release ~ Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) - Offshore Energy Post Consultation Report ~ BIS: Offshore Wind: Future Rounds ~ Marine Estate at the Crown Estate ~ A Prevailing Wind: Advancing UK Offshore Wind Deployment ~ International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) ~ Carbon Trust Report: Offshore wind power: big challenge, big opportunity ~ Ofgem – Offshore transmission
LLUKUniversities Scotland have published a paper that outlines what universities are doing to help alleviate the impact of the recession.  The publication shows how, where possible, universities are making changes in the short term to meet the needs of businesses, learners, our graduates and wider society.
The publication identifies six main areas in which universities are making a contribution to try and help industry counteract the negative impact of the economic slowdown.
Press release ~ Universities Scotland ~ Innovating our way out of recession ~ LLUK Scotland
Ofsted: Teachers are generally positive about curriculum changes which have allowed them to be more creative in their teaching, according to a new report - Planning for change: The impact of the new Key Stage 3 curriculum - published by Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills.
The report found that, of all the changes, teachers were most enthusiastic about, how less prescription had enabled them to introduce more varied & engaging approaches to teaching & learning.
The changes (which were introduced into the Key Stage 3 curriculum in September 2008)were designed to provide greater flexibility for schools to develop the curriculum in ways that meet the needs of all learners more closely.  
The key recommendations from the report are for the QCA to provide more support to schools to help them assess students’ progress in developing personal, learning & thinking skills, the DCSF to provide support & guidance for schools to help them to devise coherent plans across the whole curriculum and for schools to ensure that all subjects meet the statutory requirements in planning to implement the programmes of study at Key Stage 3.
Press release ~ Planning for change: The impact of the new Key Stage 3 curriculum