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APPENDIX IV to the minute of the meeting of the Education Committee of 14 October 1997 (Article 3(c) refers)

MINUTE of MEETING of the JOINT CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE (TEACHERS) held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Thursday 2 October 1997 at 4.00 pm.

Present: Education Committee Representatives

Councillors BRIAN MILNE, KATHLEEN RITCHIE, HELEN ANGUS, Mrs SHEENA WELSH, SANDY WEST and GEORGE NORRIE.

Teachers' Representatives

LESLEY ANDERSON, JIM FALCONER, ALICE McLEOD, JOHN LUSBY (as substitute for Mr PETER ANDREWS), DAVID DRYSDALE, BRIAN McHARDY and ARTHUR PRITCHARD.

Mr DRYSDALE, Convener, in the Chair.

1. MINUTE OF MEETING OF 22 MAY 1997

The minute of meeting of this Committee of 22 May 1997 was submitted and approved as a correct record.

With reference to Article 7 (Staff Development and Review), Mr McHardy asked when a Report would be submitted to this meeting providing monitoring information and the level of uptake from teachers opting into Review for the first time. The Director indicated that a Report was in preparation and he hoped to be able to provide an update to an early meeting of the JCC.

2. PREMATURE RETIREMENT - TEACHERS

With reference to Article 12 of the minute of meeting of the Education Committee of 26 August 1997, there was submitted Report No 850/97 by the Director of Education recommending a policy on premature retirement of teachers.

The Education Committee had authorised the Director to monitor the application of the policy and to maintain a dialogue with teachers’ representatives on its effects. The Director indicated that some further amendments had been made to the policy statement to take on board the points which had been raised by teachers’ representatives, although it had not been possible to reach a final agreement on all points.

Mr McHardy said that, while teachers’ representatives welcomed the proposed monitoring, they felt that more detail needed to be given as to how this would be carried out. He indicated that he had sought advice from experts on local government finance which offered a different perspective and would gladly make this information available to assist future discussions. Mr Lusby indicated his disappointment that no final agreement had been reached on this matter.

After a full discussion, the Director of Education indicated that normally both sides needed to make concessions in order for agreement to be reached. Councillor Milne made the point that there was a time constraint in that the policy had had to be in place by 1 September 1997.

The Committee agreed to note the policy which had been adopted by the Education Committee and welcomed the commitment to ongoing discussion and monitoring of it.

3. ADOPTION LEAVE POLICY

With reference to Article 22 of the minute of meeting of the Personnel and Property Services Committee of 10 June 1997 and Article 7 of the minute of meeting of the Education Committee of 26 August 1997, there was submitted Report No 664/97 by the Director of Personnel which recommended an Adoption Leave Policy for implementation by Angus Council. The proposed Policy compared favourably with any such Policy which existed elsewhere within local government in Scotland and its introduction would provide reassurance to those employees who were considering adoption. The policy would also enhance the development of a Conditions of Service package which supported the Council’s key theme of valuing staff.

Mr Lusby expressed disappointment that the JCC had not been consulted on this Policy prior to its adoption and indicated that, so far as he was aware, the teachers’ unions had not been consulted individually. The Director confirmed that the reference in Section 3 of the Director of Personnel’s Report was to non-teaching unions.

Ms McLeod indicated that the proposed Policy could have some financial implications for small schools with limited devolved school management budgets. However, overall, it was agreed that the Policy was an improvement to teachers’ conditions of service.

The Committee agreed to note that the Policy was acceptable to the teachers’ representatives, but that, before being formally approved, it could have benefited from discussion in a Central Consultative Forum.

4. SCHOOL SECURITY

With reference to Article 8 of the minute of meeting of the Education Committee of 26 August 1997, there was submitted Report No 858/97 by the Director of Education outlining progress made in implementing the Council’s School Security Policy.

Mr Pritchard said that while the teachers’ representatives supported the general principle of improved school security, they regretted that the JCC had not been consulted. There were many complex issues which he felt would have benefited from being addressed by the JCC. He therefore asked the Director of Education to note a number of practical concerns with the implementation of the policy at school level.

After a full discussion and exchange of views, the Committee agreed to welcome in principle the improved security measures which had been implemented to date but to note the teachers’ representatives’ request that, in future, adequate time be given to allow full consultation on some of the detailed proposals.

5. HEALTH AND SAFETY POLICY

With reference to Article 9 of the minute of meeting of the Education Committee of 26 August 1997, there was submitted Report No 857/97 by the Director of Education on his Department’s Health and Safety Policy.

Ms Anderson indicated that the teachers’ representatives welcomed the Report but would have liked to have had the opportunity to discuss the proposed Policy in the JCC before the Education Committee had been asked to approve it.

The Committee agreed to note the comments made on behalf of the teachers’ representatives and that all Head Teachers now had a copy of the Policy.

6. IMPROVED STANDARDS OF TEACHING

With reference to Article 11 of the minute of meeting of the Education Committee of 26 August 1997, there was submitted Report No 870/97 by the Director of Education outlining the terms of a proposed response to a recent request from the Scottish Office Education and Industry Department on how best to introduce a simplified framework within which education authorities could take prompt and effective action to remove incompetent teachers when essential.

Mr Lusby indicated that the teachers’ representatives would support any proposals which were based on sound learning and teaching principles. However, the teachers would prefer to see an enhanced role for the General Teaching Council (GTC) rather than have different approaches from different education authorities.

Councillor Milne indicated that Angus Council, along with all other Councils in Scotland and COSLA, took the view that teachers were employees of the education authority and not the GTC. However, the Report indicated that there might be scope to review the role of the GTC in granting full registration to teachers, and any proposals for more effectively implementing the critical importance of this role should be given sympathetic consideration.

Mr McHardy indicated that he agreed with paragraph 3.1 of the Report (which outlined the local position) and drew a distinction between a teacher’s "conduct" which should be dealt with as a disciplinary matter as opposed to a teacher’s "competence" which required more sensitive arrangements. He also emphasised the need to find creative ways to support those who for whatever reason, had become less effective as teachers. In response to this latter point, Councillor Milne agreed that the authority did have a role to play in helping, advising and counselling teachers in this position.

The Committee agreed to note the views of the teachers’ representatives.

7. VISITING SPECIALISTS

Mr Pritchard indicated that he appreciated the education authority’s current difficulties with the timetabling of visiting specialists but suggested that a more thorough consultation exercise involving the visiting specialists themselves and teachers’ representatives might have been beneficial. In the meantime, teachers’ representatives were happy to deal informally with specific cases which had been raised and requested that they participate in an evaluation of how the new timetables were operating.

The Committee agreed to note the points made by the teachers’ representatives.

8. CONSULTATIVE MECHANISMS

With reference to Article 9 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 22 May 1997, the Director of Education tabled in terms of Clause 6 of the Constitution of the JCC (Teachers), draft proposals for revised consultative arrangements between the Council and its staff. These comprised the creation of an all embracing Central Consultative Committee supported by two Forums, one for teaching staff and one for all other staff. He indicated that these proposals had been discussed informally with staff representatives, including teachers’ representatives.

Mr McHardy indicated that the teachers’ representatives were still concerned at a number of the proposals, particularly the potential reduction in importance of the new Joint Consultative Committee for Teaching Staff. He agreed that the discussions to date had been fruitful, but said there were a number of points of detail, for example the teachers’ representatives view that the joint secretariat arrangement should remain as at present, which could usefully be discussed further with the Director and the Joint Secretaries.

After further discussion, the Committee agreed to note the paper which had been tabled by the Director and to remit to the appropriate teachers’ representatives to meet with the Director of Education and the Joint Secretaries to refine the proposed constitution with a view to a further special meeting of this Committee being held to agree the revised arrangements before the full meeting of Angus Council on 6 November. (See Article 9 below).

9. PLANNED ACTIVITY TIME AND ABSENCE COVER

There was submitted a draft Report by the Director of Education which he proposed to submit to the Education Committee on 14 October seeking approval for an amended local agreement on teacher absence cover and planned activity time for teaching staff. The Report rehearsed the background to Angus Council’s current position on planned activity time and absence cover, which had been the subject of a local agreement following the need to make savings in the revenue budget for 1996/97.

The Report recommended that the Education Committee should note the agreement reached by this Committee on the two issues, and in particular the agreement by the teacher representatives on the JCC. However, the Report also noted that this agreement had been secured on the understanding that current discussions about the constitution of the JCC (Teachers) would reach a mutually satisfactory conclusion. The amended local agreements on planned activity time and absence cover were set out in Appendices I and II to the Report.

Mr McHardy stressed the need to reach agreement on the three issues (namely planned activity time, absence cover and joint consultative arrangements) and referred to the previous item on the constitution of the new Joint Consultative Committee (Teachers).

After discussion, the Committee agreed to welcome the progress which had been made to date, and to note that further discussions would take place at a special meeting to be held on Tuesday 4 November 1997 at 4.00 pm (see Article 8 above)

10. DISCIPLINARY AND GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES FOR TEACHERS

With reference to Article 5 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 22 May 1997, there was resubmitted a draft Report by the Director of Education on disciplinary and grievance procedures for teaching staff.

Mr McHardy indicated that the EIS position was that local agreements should await the outcome of national discussions on whether or not Education Committees should have the final responsibility for dismissal of teachers.

Councillor Milne referred to two cases involving proposed procedures in other authorities which were presently the subject of legal challenge. Ms Anderson urged that any internal appeals procedure should comply with the relevant ACAS Code as regards timescales, etc.

After discussion, the Committee agreed to note the terms of the Director’s Report and the EIS position as set out by Mr McHardy.

11. EARLY INTERVENTION

With reference to Article 10 of the minute of meeting of the Education Committee of 26 August 1997, there was submitted Report No 860/97 by the Director of Education advising of amendments to the SOEID Early Intervention Grants Programme and providing feedback on the outcome of the Council’s application for grant funding. The Council had been awarded a grant of £119,000 in each of the three financial years 1997/98, 1998/99 and 1999/2000.

The Director indicated that he was very hopeful that the funding which the Council had been awarded would result in three additional teachers being in place shortly. A Steering Group had been established and was making good progress with the project.

Mr Pritchard indicated that teachers were pleased at the Council’s success in its bid and that schools eagerly awaited developments. While he was aware of the tight deadlines involved, he requested that the results of the project evaluation and the assessment materials used be made known to schools in phases 2 and 3 prior to their joining the programme. The Director of Education agreed with this approach and indicated that he hoped the schools involved in phase 2 of the programme would be given a suitable induction to it.

The Committee agreed to note the position.

12. ALTERNATIVES TO EXCLUSION

With reference to Article 14 of the minute of meeting of the Education Committee of 26 August 1997, there was submitted Report No 851/97 by the Director of Education informing of the successful application to the Scottish Office for grant aid for a project targeted at young people in the 10-14 age range. The project was intended to function as a preventative measure whose principal objective would be to ensure that young people who participated in the project did not require to be excluded from school during the remainder of their school careers.

The Council’s bid had been accepted in its entirety without amendment and details of the funding available were included in the Report.

The Director indicated that the outcome of this particular bid was a satisfactory one and steps were now in hand to establish the project. Further Reports would be provided for the Education Committee’s interest as progress was made. He explained that the project would begin after the October holiday in the two Arbroath cluster groups and the Forfar cluster group. He requested a nominee from the JCC to fill a vacancy on the Troubled and Troublesome Working Group which was overseeing the project.

Mr Lusby commended the Council on its success, but asked if there was a facility to vire money from one year to the next if there was any delay in getting the project started. The Director of Education said that although there was no such facility, he agreed to look at ways of using the funds which had been made available by the Scottish Office as effectively as possible, and of extending the life of the project.

The Committee agreed to note the position and noted that the teachers’ representatives would make the necessary nomination to fill the vacancy on the Working Group as soon as possible.

13. VIOLENCE AND AGGRESSION TO STAFF

The Director of Education reported six incidents involving violence and/or aggression to staff in the period 22 May to 22 September 1997.

Having heard some of the details from the Director, the Committee agreed to note the nature of the incidents.

14. HIGHER STILL - PROGRESS REPORT

The Director of Education reported that he had set up a Strategy Group comprising representatives from each six-year secondary school in the Council’s area. During the current session, this Group would support schools in an audit of the secondary school curriculum and schools’ entitlement to enhanced support. Two Sub-Groups had also been created and by the end of the session every school should have a revised framework for the S5 and S6 curriculum. During November and December 1997, it was hoped that all Principal Teachers would be given the opportunity to attend national seminars on curriculum planning.

Mr McHardy, a member of the Strategy Group, indicated that a lot of work had been done within a tight timescale and problems of workload, especially of guidance staff had been identified. The Director confirmed that an extension to the timescale for implementation had been granted and, at this stage, only audits (as opposed to actual development work) were expected to be completed this session.

After further discussion, the Committee agreed to note the current position.