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ANGUS COUNCIL

MINUTE of MEETING of the EDUCATION COMMITTEE held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Tuesday, 23 April 1996 at 4.00 pm.

Present: Councillors BRIAN MILNE, WALLIE LEASK, GEORGE ALLAN, Provost Mrs FRANCES E DUNCAN, Mrs GLENNIS MIDDLETON, GEORGE NORRIE, Mrs KATHLEEN M RITCHIE, RICHARD SPEIRS, Mrs SHEENA WELSH, SANDY WEST, Dr R MACKENZIE, Father M MILTON, Mr P ANDREWS and Miss A BEGG.

Apologies: Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Councillors HELEN ANGUS, Mrs RENATE LAMONT and JOHN GIBB.

Councillor MILNE, Convener, in the Chair.

1.    MINUTE OF PREVIOUS MEETING

The minute of the meeting of this Committee of 13 March 1996 was approved as a correct record and signed by the Convener.

2.    MINUTE OF JCC (TEACHERS) OF 26 MARCH 1996

There was submitted and approved the minute of the meeting of the Joint Consultative Committee (Teachers) of 26 March 1996, a copy of which is appended to this minute (Appendix).

3.    CLOVA PRIMARY SCHOOL

There was submitted Report No 192/96 by the Director of Education indicating that Clova Primary School was the smallest school in Angus and had for many years been a one teacher school. There had been a steady decline in pupil numbers over a period of several years and in the current school session there were two pupils in the school, one of whom was in Primary 7 and would move on to secondary school in August 1996 and another in Primary 5. There were no pre-school age children living within the delineated area of the school at present.

The Report indicated that, in order to benefit from attendance at school, children required some peer group contact both in terms of their personal and social development and to attain fully their cognitive development potential. A school serving only one pupil would not be an arrangement which would be in the best interests of that pupil.

In the circumstances, the Director of Education proposed that Clova Primary School be closed and that its delineated area be transferred to, and be incorporated in, the delineated area of Cortachy Primary School. Accordingly he proposed that the Council enter into a consultation exercise as prescribed by the Education (Publication and Consultation Etc) (Scotland) Regulations 1981, as amended. Such an exercise would enable the parents of the child concerned to make their views known formally and to be taken into consideration by the education authority. Should a decision be taken in principle to close the school, then the Secretary of State’s consent would be required in view of its remote location.

After discussion, the Committee agreed to undertake a formal consultation exercise in terms of the Education (Publication and Consultation Etc) (Scotland) Regulations 1981, as amended, on a proposal that Clova Primary School be closed with effect from August 1996, and that the delineated area of Cortachy Primary School be varied to include the current delineated area of Clova Primary School.

4. PADANARAM PRIMARY SCHOOL

There was submitted Report No 193/96 by the Director of Education indicating that Padanaram Primary School had for several years been a one teacher school which served only stages Primary 1 up to Primary 4, after which pupils were expected to transfer to Kirkriggs Primary School in Forfar.

The school roll had been steadily declining over several years and in the current school session the roll was 11 pupils, 5 of whom were in Primary 4 and therefore would leave the school at the end of June. Other changes would mean that, in August 1996, the school would have only 4 pupils on its roll, one of whom was there as a result of a parental placing request. At present, there was only one pre-school age child living in the delineated area due to commence school in August 1997. Two other pre-school age children in the delineated area were expected to attend primary schools in Forfar as a result of parental placing requests.

The Report indicated that, with a roll as small as 4 there were serious doubts about there being sufficient contact with any individual pupil’s peer group to provide as effective a social development programme as would be desirable and to ensure that any individual pupil’s cognitive development potential was being fully realised. In the circumstances, the Director proposed that Padanaram Primary School be closed, that the part of the delineated area of the school which was also contained in the delineated area of Forfar Academy should transfer into the delineated area of Kirkriggs Primary School, and that the part of the delineated area of the school which was contained within the delineated area of Webster’s High School should transfer into the delineated area of Southmuir Primary School. Accordingly, he proposed that the Council enter into a consultation exercise as prescribed in the Education (Publication and Consultation Etc) (Scotland) Regulations 1981, as amended.

After discussion, the Committee agreed that a formal consultation exercise within the terms of the Education (Publication and Consultation Etc) (Scotland) Regulations 1981 as amended, be undertaken on a proposal that Padanaram Primary School be closed with effect from August 1996, and that the delineated areas of Kirkriggs Primary School and Southmuir Primary School be extended to include those parts of the delineated area of Padanaram Primary School contained within the delineated areas of Forfar Academy and Webster’s High School respectively.

5. DEVOLVED SCHOOL MANAGEMENT

With reference to Article 2 of the minute of the Education Committee of 20 December 1995, there was submitted Report No 177/96 by the Director of Education stating that only one school had indicated that it did not wish to become involved in the Devolved School Management Scheme during 1996/97 and that accordingly there were 24 additional schools (listed in Appendix 1 to the Report) whose participation in Phase 2 of Devolved School Management was planned during 1996/97.

One of the features of the Scheme was that participating schools had clerical staff complements greater than their counterparts which were not participating, in addition to which support was made available to schools from a centrally based unit. Current indications suggested that there was scope to make minor adjustments to the level of clerical support currently available both centrally and within schools. Accordingly, it was proposed that the levels of clerical support outlined in Appendix 2 to the Report be adopted for all Angus schools. This would mean all schools entering into the Scheme would be allocated clerical support hours greater than those to which the school would otherwise be entitled and details were set out in Appendix 3 to the Report.

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

(i) to approve the inclusion of the 24 schools listed in Appendix 1 to the Report within the Council’s Devolved School Management Scheme during 1996/97;

(ii) to approve in principle the clerical support levels in all schools operating the Council’s Devolved School Management Scheme as outlined in Appendix 2 to the Report;

 

(iii) to note that a small number of schools currently enjoyed a higher clerical staffing level than was set out in Appendix 2 to the Report and to instruct the Director of Education to adjust staffing levels in those schools as and when it was possible so to do, including, where appropriate, offering the opportunity to some staff to work in two neighbouring schools, rather than in a single school;

(iv) to note the decision of the Personnel and Property Services Committee of 20 February 1996 to delete the post of Admin Assistant (No 04/04) from the Education Department’s establishment and to approve in principle the deletion of the post of Clerical Assistant (No 07/10), both on the understanding that the savings generated could be applied to enable the provision of additional clerical support in those schools listed in Appendix 1 to the Report, to bring them to the support levels recommended in Appendix 2 to the Report and to approve additional recruitment to enable each of these schools to be staffed to this level; and

(v) to refer the recommended changes to the Education Department’s establishment to the Personnel and Property Services Committee for consideration.

6. EDUCATION DEPARTMENT DEVELOPMENT PLAN 1996/99

With reference to Article 5 of the minute of the Education Committee of 27 September 1995, there was submitted Report No 176/96 by the Director of Education, together with a draft of the Development Plan which was intended to provide a framework for the management of the Education Service in Angus and its contribution to the Council’s strategic priorities.

In response to a question from Mr Andrews, the Convener indicated that the pace at which developments could be taken forward would be affected by the circumstances under which the Council was being required to operate and that this would be reflected in the covering letter issuing the document to schools.

Thereafter, the Committee approved the terms of the Report and agreed:-

(i) to approve the Development Plan as presented to the Committee;

(ii) to authorise the Director of Education to distribute copies of the plan to all schools and services; and

(iii) to instruct the Director of Education to report back on progress with the Development Plan in the early part of 1997.

7. PURCHASING ARRANGEMENTS FOR AUDIO VISUAL AND EDUCATIONAL COMPUTING EQUIPMENT

There was submitted Joint Report No 257/96 by the Director of Education and the Director of Information Technology indicating that the Education Department of the former Tayside Regional Council had purchased audio visual and computing equipment through Dryburgh Education Resources Centre (DERC) which had negotiated directly with suppliers to ensure that the most advantageous prices were secured.

This arrangement had expired on 31 March 1996 but, immediately prior to reorganisation of local government, the Manager of DERC had discussed the matter with the suppliers involved who had indicated a willingness to continue the previous discount structures, although dealing with three individual and smaller Councils. Accordingly, it was proposed that a procedure be adopted for a period of 1 year whereby an appropriate member of the Education Department of Dundee City Council Resource Centre would continue to liaise with the suppliers on behalf of the three authorities and produce a catalogue of audio visual and computing equipment for use in educational establishments, order and arrange delivery of audio visual equipment, in liaison with the Department of Information Technology of this Council.

 

Angus Council’s contribution towards the provision of the services under the proposals would be £5,000, for which there was provision within the existing Education Department revenue budget. This cost would be more than offset by savings generated through the favourable price negotiations with suppliers.

The Committee approved the terms of the Report for its interest and agreed the purchasing arrangements outlined therein in respect of educational audio visual and computing equipment for the financial year 1996/97, during which period the situation would be reviewed.

8. SUPPORT FOR LEARNING POLICY STATEMENT

There was submitted Report No 194/96 by the Director of Education indicating that a short life Working Group had been established to identify aspects of support for effective learning and teaching for all learners, particularly those who had a Record of Need or who might require specific short term or long term additional support.

The Group had largely discharged its remit and specific tasks pertinent to Support for Learning were now being undertaken by officers of the Council. However, it had recommended that the policy statement appended to the Report be approved by this Committee for issue, to enable the detailed work now being undertaken to be developed within a clear Council policy framework.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to approve the policy statement on Support for Learning for circulation throughout the Education Service in Angus; and

(ii) to instruct the Director of Education to make use of the policy statement to develop more detailed statements on aspects of Support for Learning, as and when it was appropriate so to do.

9. SECURITY IN SCHOOLS

There was submitted Report No 264/96 by the Director of Education indicating that the Crime Prevention Officers of Tayside Police, assisted by personnel from Tayside Fire Brigade, had prepared a presentation for schools which aimed to highlight security and safety issues for pupils, staff and other users of school premises, and had been invited to present their materials, initially at Head Teacher meetings later in the term.

The Report also made reference to the series of publications for staff issued by the former Tayside Regional Council’s Education Department entitled "Working in a Secure Environment" and to the need for schools to undertake a self-assessment and review and, where appropriate, revise management approaches to security.

The Committee noted the terms of the Report.

10. SCHOOL MEALS - IMPACT OF BSE

There was submitted Report No 273/96 by the Director of Education on concerns expressed by parents and the general public regarding the possibility of Creutzfeldt-Jackob disease (CJD) being contracted through exposure to beef, or beef products, containing Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

In order to ensure that any risk was minimised, the Education Department, in consultation with Tayside Contracts, had taken the following action:-

(a) in very small schools where there was no choice on menus, beef products had been removed;

(b) suppliers of beef had provided guarantees that only young cattle under 30 months of age were used, and that the source of the cattle could be traced back to the farm; and

 

(c) similarly, manufacturers of beef products had been asked to provide assurances over the source of supply and, where this had not been possible, the products concerned had been removed from the menu and replaced with other items.

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

(i) to note the action taken in respect of beef and beef products; and

(ii) to instruct the Director of Education to keep the matter under review and to report back in the light of any further developments.

11. OPEN UNIVERSITY UNDERGRADUATE SUMMER SCHOOL FEES - SESSION 1996

There was submitted Report No 265/96 by the Director of Education indicating that, at present, 28 students had applied for sponsorship for Open University Summer School Fees in 1996. The fee in each case was £199.

In previous years, the former Tayside Regional Council had agreed to provide such support and to reimburse the student’s travelling expenses on the basis of the cheapest rail or bus fares. Provision for such expenditure had been made in the Angus Council revenue budget for 1996/97.

The Committee approved the terms of the Report and agreed to provide support for university students studying for a first qualification/degree to enable them to attend the Summer School element of their respective courses.

12. ADULT GUIDANCE IN SCOTLAND - SOEID CONSULTATION PAPER

There was submitted Report No 280/96 by the Director of Education indicating that, on 22 February 1996, the Scottish Office had issued a consultative paper on Adult Guidance entitled "Adult Guidance in Scotland: Strategy Proposals". This paper outlined the elements of national policy in adult guidance across the formal and informal education sector, including the field of vocational training, illustrating current developments and proposing a National Helpline on Guidance.

The Committee welcomed the proposals contained in the consultation paper and, subject to clarification regarding the proposed funding arrangements, approved the proposed response set out in the Report as being the views of Angus Council on the consultation document.