AS WE HEAD into September, schools have been back for a couple of weeks now and I am pleased to say that there are many families across Clackmannanshire who will already have felt the benefit of the Scottish Government delivering on promises made during the election campaign.

Not least of these is a £28million commitment which is extending free school lunches for all P4 children right now and to P5 children by January 2022.

There is a further pot of £21.75m which will provide targeted free school meal support during school holidays.

Getting kids ready for a new school year can be a significant challenge so there is no doubt that the increases to the School Clothing Grant will have been widely welcomed by many families.

Removing charges for music tuition and some of those other costs that can take hard-pressed parents by surprise throughout the school year were two of the pledges I stood on during the election campaign and I am delighted to see them being delivered.

Pre-schoolers, too, have benefited from the delivery of SNP campaign pledges with up to 130,000 children across Scotland now able to benefit from 1,140 hours of free early learning and childcare, additional hours described as "transformative for families" – not by an SNP politician, but by Stephen McCabe, a senior Labour councillor who is not a frequent cheerleader for the SNP.

And there is more to come. For example, work is underway to provide every school pupil in Scotland with a laptop or tablet and temporary Covid recovery funding of £80m that helped to recruit 1,400 teachers and 250 support staff is to be made permanent.

It is not just in school that lessons are learned, of course, and the Scottish Government has been clear for a long time that it planned to establish a public inquiry so that we can have a proper investigation of people's experience of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Details have now been published of the form that inquiry will take, and I am pleased to have confirmation that it will be judge-led, with a person-centred, human rights-based approach.

The open nature of this investigation is underlined by the fact that members of the public are now being invited to share their ideas and comments on the approach that has been proposed and can do so, by email, from now until the end of September. You will find the consultation document on the Scottish Government's website.

Covid is, of course, very much still with us and there are things we can all do as individuals to help to stop it spreading. First and foremost amongst these, is – if you haven't done so already – get vaccinated! This remains the single most important thing we can all do to keep each other safe.

We should all be testing regularly – this cuts down the chance of inadvertently passing the virus onto others and, of course, self-isolating and engaging with Test & Protect if the test should come back positive.

And, of course, we should be continuing to wash hands and surfaces. It is also a good idea – even if it isn't required by law anymore – to, whenever possible, keep a safe distance from other households and to be following public health guidance on wearing face coverings, increasing ventilation, thinking about how often we are interacting with others, meeting outdoors where possible, and trying to avoid crowds.