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ANGUS COUNCIL

MINUTE of MEETING of the EDUCATION COMMITTEE held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Tuesday 15 October 1996 at 4.00 pm.

Present: Councillors BRIAN MILNE, WALLIE LEASK, HELEN ANGUS, JOHN GIBB, Mrs RENATE LAMONT, GLENNIS MIDDLETON, GEORGE NORRIE, Mrs KATHLEEN RITCHIE, RICHARD SPEIRS, SHEENA WELSH and SANDY WEST; Father M MILTON, Rev Dr R MACKENZIE and Mr PETER ANDREWS.

Also present Councillors ROBB MURRAY, IAN HUDGHTON, FRANK ELLIS and STEWART MOWATT.

Apologies: Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Provost Mrs Frances E Duncan and Mrs E Howson.

Councillor MILNE, Convener, in the Chair.

 

ANDOVER PRIMARY SCHOOL, BRECHIN

Prior to the commencement of business, the Convener made a statement referring to recent comments in the press about the plans to replace the current buildings of Andover Primary School, Brechin. He indicated that the project had been delayed by land acquisition and capital allocation difficulties but that Angus Council was committed to providing a replacement school as soon as possible.

The Reverend Dr Mackenzie welcomed the Convener’s assurances.

1. MINUTE OF PREVIOUS MEETING

The minute of meeting of this Committee of 27 August 1996 was approved as a correct record and signed by the Convener.

2. JCC (TEACHERS)

The minute of the meeting of the JCC (Teachers) of 1 October 1996, a copy of which is appended hereto (APPENDIX), was submitted and noted.

Item 1(b) - Smoking at Work Policy

In response to a question by Councillor Speirs, the Convener confirmed that the views of teaching staff would be taken into account by the Personnel and Property Committee and the Council when considering the proposed policy.

Item 5 - Teachers Representation on the Education Committee

The Convener welcomed Mr Brian McHardy, the teachers’ side nominee as a member of the Education Committee, who was in attendance as an observer pending formal appointment by the next meeting of the Council.

3. EXTENSION OF PRE-SCHOOL PROVISION

There was submitted Report No 809/96 by the Director of Education indicating that the provisions of the Education (Scotland) Act 1996 came into force on 18 September 1996. Part II of the Act made provision relating to the education of children under school age in the context of the Government’s scheme for pre-school education vouchers, national implementation of which had to be effected in August 1997 although detailed guidance on the scheme was still awaited. Accordingly, the Council would have to prepare plans to extend pre-school provision. The Report set out criteria for identifying suitable pre-school provision and enrolment arrangements.

After hearing Councillor Leask and Mr Andrews regarding the need for an integrated education system provided by local authorities and the dangers of the extension of voucher systems to other areas of education, the Committee approved the terms of the Report and agreed:-

(i) to instruct the Director of Education to write to the Secretary of State for Scotland stressing again the Committee’s view regarding the desirability of extending pre-school education by means other than the voucher system, but urging also that, if the Government was determined to press ahead with its voucher scheme across Scotland with effect from August 1997, then further clarification of the details of the scheme would be required as a matter of some urgency;

(ii) to instruct the Director of Education to plan for the extension of pre-school provision in Angus on the assumption that the Government’s voucher scheme would be introduced in 1997 and with a target of the Council providing places for at least 90% of children in their pre-school year;

(iii) to approve, in principle, subject to detailed consideration of funding arrangements, the additional pre-school places proposed in Appendix 1 to the Report with these to be made available with effect from August 1997;

(iv) to approve the arrangements for prioritising nursery enrolments as detailed in Appendix 2 to the Report;

(v) to instruct the Director of Education to bring forward further Reports detailing the implications of making available the additional pre-school places outlined in Appendix 1 to the Report; and

(vi) to approve the secondment of a member of staff to assist with the planning of the initiative, initially for the period January to March 1997, on the understanding that the costs of this secondment would be contained within the Education Department’s Nursery Sector Revenue Budget for 1996/97.

4. EDUCATION (SCOTLAND) ACT 1996

There was submitted Report No 820/96 by the Director of Education, together with Scottish Office Circular No 8/96, setting out guidance on the interpretation of the terms of the Education (Scotland) Act 1996 which dealt with School Boards, placing requests, school transport, self-governing schools and approval of school building projects.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the terms of SOEID Circular No 8/96; and

(ii) to instruct the Director of Education to bring forward detailed reports on the implications of the Education (Scotland) Act 1996 specifically as it related to (a) School Boards; (b) placing requests and (c) school transport.

5. HIGHER STILL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME

With reference to Article 2 of the minute of meeting of the JCC (Teachers) of 1 October 1996, there was submitted Report No 821/96 by the Director of Education indicating that following expressions of concern regarding the timescale and implementation of the Higher Still Development Programme, the Secretary of State had announced his decision to delay the introduction of courses until session 1998/99. He proposed to make use of the one year delay to allow more extensive consultation and to enable authorities and schools to devote more time to implementing the 5 to 14 Development Programme.

Between September and December 1995, the Higher Still Development Programme had undertaken an extensive national consultation exercise. The Report set out the arrangements being made to involve Angus Council staff in the current further round of consultation exercises, highlighted the current policy in this regard and suggested limited amendments to that policy.

The Committee approved the terms of the Report and agreed:-

(i) to note the current policy in respect of staff involvement in the Higher Still Programme;

(ii) to note and endorse the arrangements which had been set in place to involve staff in consultations about, and in the preparation of responses to, the current series of consultation documents being issued by the Higher Still Development Unit;

(iii) to approve the proposal that the policy with respect to the involvement of staff in Higher Still initiatives be amended to allow staff to participate in planning and co-ordination exercises as set out in the Report;

(iv) to confirm that, while there was a commitment to involve staff in consultation and planning initiatives, outstanding resource and workload issues relating to the implementation of Higher Still were recognised; and

(v) to instruct the Director of Education to report further on the outcome of the current round of consultation exercises.

6. SCOTTISH PARENT TEACHER COUNCIL - PETITION ON EDUCATION FUNDING

There was submitted Report No 822/96 by the Director of Education together with copy of a petition drawn up by the Scottish Parent Teacher Council calling on the Government to recognise the educational needs of children and young people, to make education one of their main priorities and to provide adequate and sufficient funds for an education system for the 21st century.

The Committee agreed that Angus Council should support the petition.

7. SCHOOL TERMS AND HOLIDAYS 1997/98

With reference to Article 4 of the minute of meeting of the JCC (Teachers) of 1 October 1996, there was submitted Report No 823/96 by the Director of Education setting out a proposed scheme of school terms and holidays for 1997/98 and the views of teachers and head teachers on the proposals.

After discussion, and having heard Mr Andrews, the Committee agreed:-

(i) for session 1997/98, to approve the scheme of school terms and holiday dates as set out in Report No 823/96, subject to the proposed holiday on Monday, 13 April 1998 being replaced by a St Andrew’s Day holiday to be observed on Monday, 1 December 1997; and

(ii) for future sessions, to consult the JCC (Teachers) on the principle of building a St Andrew’s Day holiday into the scheme on a permanent basis.

8. GUIDANCE STAFF IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS

With reference to Article 3 of the minute of meeting of the JCC (Teachers) of 1 October 1996, there was submitted Report No 747/96 by the Director of Education outlining difficulties faced by secondary schools in fulfilling a wide range of guidance functions with a reduced complement of promoted posts following the termination of the TVEI project, and setting out possible measures to address these problems.

The Committee approved the terms of the Report and agreed:-

(i) to approve the establishment of guidance posts in secondary schools as detailed in Appendix 1 to the Report;

(ii) to instruct the Director of Education to monitor the impact of.enhanced guidance complements on the ability of secondary schools to provide effective personal, social vocational and curricular advice and guidance to all pupils, this monitoring to include school based consultations within the agreed consultative mechanisms on workload already established in all schools, and consultation with secondary head teachers and teacher representatives on the JCC (Teachers); and

(iii) to approve the amended basis for the allocation of senior teachers to secondary schools as detailed in Appendix 2 to the Report.

9. PLACING REQUESTS FOR ROMAN CATHOLIC SCHOOLS

With reference to Article 9 of the minute of the meeting of this Committee of 4 June 1996, there was submitted Report No 776/96 by the Director of Education (a) indicating that he had undertaken a consultation exercise, in terms of the Education (Publication and Consultation Etc.) (Scotland) Regulations 1981 regarding proposals to specify more clearly the Council’s approach to dealing with placing requests for either of the two Roman Catholic Schools which it managed and (b) setting out the responses received.

The Committee noted the terms of the responses to the consultation exercise, and approved the policy statement set out in the Report regarding the operation of school placing requests.

10. THE DALE SCHOOL TRUST

There was submitted Report No 880/96 by the Director of Law and Administration advising that the Dale School Trust presently provided for grants lasting for one year only to be made to children under 18 years of age who attended educational establishments in the Parishes of Arbroath and St. Vigeans.

The Trustees had been unable to disburse the whole annual income available to them in six of the last seven years and had now resolved that the terms of the existing scheme should be altered as follows, to permit payments for the benefit of young persons under the age of 25 years at the date on which such grant is made, who preferably reside ordinarily within the Parishes of Arbroath and St. Vigeans, as presently constituted, or failing such applicants or to the extent that such applicants do not absorb available funds, then to those who ordinarily reside within 12 miles of Arbroath Abbey, to enable such young persons to enjoy opportunities of a broadly educational type whether physical, academic or artistic which would, in the opinion of the Trustees, benefit such young persons but which such young persons cannot, in the opinion of the Trustees, reasonably afford or which the parents or guardians of such young persons cannot, in the opinion of the Trustees, reasonably afford".

The Committee approved the terms of the Report and agreed:-

(i) to approve the Trustees’ request that the Council undertake the reorganisation of the Dale School Trust;

(ii) to approve the draft revised Scheme and draft Explanatory Memorandum annexed to the Report;

(iii) to authorise the Director of Law and Administration to publicise and circulate the draft Scheme; and

(iv) to note that the Director of Law and Administration would report back in due course with the results of such publication and consultation.

11. SECURE ACCOMMODATION FOR CHILDREN IN SCOTLAND - "A SECURE REMEDY"

With reference to Article 2 of the minute of the meeting of the Social Work Committee of 8 October 1996, there was submitted Joint Report No 800/96 by the Director of Social Work and the Director of Education summarising (a) the findings of a national review of secure care for children in Scotland undertaken by the Social Work Services Group and the recommendations made by the review group, and (b) setting out the Council’s proposed response to the recommendations made in the Report.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed:-

(i) to note the contents of the national review of secure care for children in Scotland;

(ii) to approve the contents of the proposed response to the review recommendations as set out in Appendix 1 to the Report; and

(iii) to forward the response to the Social Work Services Group and the Scottish Office.

Councillors George Norrie and Mrs Kathleen Ritchie declared interests and took no part in the discussion of the following matter.

12. ESTABLISHMENT OF POST OF SUPPORT WORKER

There was submitted Joint Report No 840/96 by the Director of Education and the Director of Personnel indicating that the Education Department currently funded a sessional post of Youth Worker for 15 hours per week based at the YMCA in Montrose. The post was presently vacant and the YMCA had suggested a partnership approach with the Council to develop and establish new initiatives and had offered funding to help establish a post of Support Worker on a full-time basis.

It was proposed to accept the offer of funding and to establish such a post on grade AP1 for a fixed term of 23 months, prior to the end of which the arrangement would be reviewed.

The Committee approved the terms of the Report for its interest and agreed that the matter be referred to the Personnel and Property Services Committee to consider the proposed establishment of the post of Support Worker graded AP1.

13. REVIEW OF LETTING CHARGES AND PROCEDURES 1997/98

With reference to Article 14 of the minute of meeting of the Recreation and Cultural Services Committee of 10 October 1996, there was submitted Joint Report No. 810/96 by the Director of Cultural Services, Director of Recreation Services and Director of Education seeking authority for the Education, Recreation Services and Cultural Services Departments to develop a unified scheme for the letting of Council premises.

The Committee, for its interest agreed:-

(i) to accept the proposals contained in the Report;

(ii) to instruct the appropriate officers to prepare a revised letting scheme, to commence in August 1997, which would be consistent with the schemes produced by other Council Departments; and

(iii) to authorise a review of charges for 1997/98.

14. MEETING WITH SCHOOL BOARDS

The Committee noted that a meeting had been arranged with representatives of all School Boards and schools which did not have Boards to take place in the Meffan Institute, Forfar, on Thursday, 21 November 1996 at 7.30 pm, to which all members were invited.

15. EXCLUSION OF PUBLIC AND PRESS

The Committee resolved in terms of Standing Order 27(2) that the public and press be excluded during consideration of the following item so as to avoid the disclosure of information which was exempt in terms of Part 1 of Schedule 7A to the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, paragraph 4.

16. COMMUNITY EDUCATION SERVICE - REVENUE GRANTS TO VOLUNTARY ORGANISATIONS 1996/97

With reference to Article 3 of the minute of the meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee of 7 May 1996 there was submitted Report No 867/96 by the Director of Education regarding applications for grant aid in excess of £500 received from voluntary organisations.

The Committee approved the terms of the Report and agreed that grants be made to voluntary organisations as set out below:-

REF NO. NAME OF ORGANISATION GRANT AWARDED PURPOSE OF GRANT
1 Arbroath Sea Cadets £2,500 To assist with purchase of canoes.
2 Auchmithie Village Hall Committee £1,000 Towards replacement and upgrading of furnishings and equipment.
3 Borrowfield Community Cente, Community Association, Montrose £1,000 To assist with costs of external lighting and upgrading of hall floor.
4 CAFE Project (Alcohol Free Environmental Project for young people and families) £4,000 To support programme development and contribute to building costs.
5 Carnoustie Friends of Guiding £500 For external building work e.g painting and repairs to entrance.
6 Farnell WRI Hall Committee £1,200 Towards cost of roofing repairs.
7 Gallowshade Action Group, Forfar £2,000 To meet costs of furnishing new community flat.
8 Glenisla Community Hall Trust £490 For purchase of kitchen equipment and table tennis table.
9 Locals Against Drug Abuse, Arbroath £1,000 For building work/upgrading toilets.
10 Leysmill Scout Group £600 Towards cost of upgrading scout hut (electrics and plumbing).
11 Parent to Parent (Tayside) £2,000 To support work in Angus with parents of children with special needs.
12 Stepping Stones Playgroup, Forfar £250 To meet Quality Assurance requirements.
13 Strathairlie Community Flat Management Group £500 To assist with day to day running costs, heating and lighting.
  TOTAL AWARDS £17,040