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ANGUS COUNCIL

MINUTE of MEETING of the EDUCATION COMMITTEE held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Tuesday 14 October 1997 at 4.00 pm.

Present: Councillors BRIAN M C MILNE, Mrs KATHLEEN RITCHIE, GEORGE P ALLAN, HELEN ANGUS, Provost Mrs FRANCES E DUNCAN, JACK GIBB, Mrs RENATE LAMONT, STEWART McGLYNN, GLENNIS MIDDLETON, GEORGE NORRIE, SANDY WEST; Fr M MILTON, Ms M KINGSTON, MR PETER ANDREWS and Mr BRIAN McHARDY.

Apologies: An apology for absence was intimated on behalf of Councillor SHEENA WELSH.

Councillor MILNE, Convener, in the Chair.

1. CO-ORDINATOR POSTS WITHIN THE EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT SERVICE

There was submitted Report No 1047/97 by the Director of Education.

The Committee agreed that consideration of this matter be deferred pending receipt of further information.

2. MINUTE OF PREVIOUS MEETING

The minute of meeting of this Committee of 26 August 1997 was accepted as a correct record and signed by the Convener.

3. MINUTES

(a) Special Cases Sub-Committee

The minute of meeting of the Special Cases Sub-Committee of 15 September 1997, a copy of which is appended hereto (Appendix I), was submitted and noted.

(b) School Attendance Sub-Committee

The minute of two meetings of the School Attendance Sub-Committee of 24 September 1997, copies of which are appended hereto (Appendices II and III), were submitted and noted.

(c) JCC (Teachers)

The minute of meeting of the JCC (Teachers) held on 2 October 1997, a copy of which is appended hereto (Appendix IV), was submitted and noted.

4. CONSULTATIVE ARRANGEMENTS

There was submitted joint Report No 1057/97 by the Director of Education and the Director of Personnel.

The Committee agreed that consideration of this Report be deferred pending further discussion at a special meeting of the JCC (Teachers) to be held on 4 November.

5. CAPITAL PROJECT APPRAISAL - EXTENSION/MODERNISATION OF LETHAM PRIMARY SCHOOL

There was submitted joint Report No 1042/97 by the Director of Education and the Director of Property Services setting out proposals to extend and modernise Letham Primary School on the present site to provide for a maximum of 231 pupils and a nursery class together with general purposes room, gymnasium/dining facilities, resource area, administration offices etc.

The construction period would be approximately 10 months necessitating the decanting of pupils to the Teachers’ Resource Centre at Friockheim. The estimated cost of the scheme was £850,000 at outturn prices.

The Committee, for its interest, approved the terms of the Report and agreed:-

(i) to approve the improvement to Letham Primary School to provide accommodation for a maximum of 231 pupils and a nursery class at an estimated cost of £850,000 at outturn prices;

(ii) to note that the amended cost and phasing shown in the Report would be reflected in the capital programme for 1998/99 and beyond;

(iii) to instruct the Director of Education, after consultation with staff, parents and the School Board, to make interim arrangements for pupils’ education during the construction period; and

(iv) to approve the preparation and issue of tender documents.

6. PLANNED ACTIVITY TIME AND ABSENCE COVER

There was submitted joint Report No 1050/97 by the Director of Education and the JCC (Teachers) representatives regarding the requirement of the Scheme of Salaries and Conditions of Service of the Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee for Teaching Staff in School Education for the provision for Teacher Absence Cover and Planned Activity Time, and setting out the proposed amended local agreement on these issues which had been reached after discussion with the teacher representatives on the JCC. It was noted that the agreement of the teacher representatives had been secured on the understanding that the current discussions regarding the constitution of the JCC (Teachers) would reach a mutually satisfactory conclusion by November 1997.

The Committee agreed to approve, in principle, the amended local agreement on planned activity time and absence cover as set out in Appendices 1 and 2 to the Report for adoption by the Council, on the understanding that current discussions regarding the constitution of the JCC (Teachers) would reach a mutually satisfactory conclusion at a meeting of the JCC (Teachers) to be held on 4 November 1997.

7. SOEID CONSULTATION PAPER - SCOTTISH QUALIFICATION FOR HEAD TEACHERS

There was submitted Report No 1049/97 by the Director of Education indicating that the Government had a declared aim to "establish proper qualifications and training for the post of Head Teacher" and had issued a consultation paper to the Education Authority on 14 August 1997 setting out its proposals.

A copy of the consultation paper, together with a proposed response, were attached as appendices to the Report.

The Committee approved the terms of the Report and agreed to endorse the terms of the response as set out in Appendix 1 to the Report.

8. SOEID CIRCULAR NO 6/97 - BUDGET 1997 - NEW DEAL FOR SCHOOLS

There was submitted Report No 1043/97 by the Director of Education indicating that the Scottish Office Education and Industry Department had issued Circular No 6/97 on 11 September 1997 identifying additional resources which would be allocated for additional expenditure on schools.

It was likely that funds in the order of £1.2 would be available Under General Education GAE 1998/99 to Angus Council; that, under General Spend to Save 1998/99, £330k would be available to Angus Council and that under the heading Spend to Save for School Rationalisation 1998/99 the Secretary of State had made available a further £15m towards school rationalisation, recognising significant revenue savings which could be generated by investing in fabric and buildings. Councils wishing to apply for rationalisation support had been invited to indicate their intention to do so by 30 September 1997, and a formal intimation of interest had been submitted on behalf of Angus Council. Further advice was awaited. Angus Council’s share under Capital Resources Specific Grant would be £196k in 1997/98 and £587k in 1998/99. It was anticipated that a similar amount in the 3 subsequent financial years would be made available.

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

(i) to instruct the Director of Education to bring forward a further report on the implications of SOEID Circular No 6/97 and in particular proposals for utilising capital resources in 1998/99 and subsequent years; and

(ii) to authorise the Director, in consultation with the Convener and Vice-Convener of the Committee, to apply for funding by the dates outlined within the Report and to provide the Education Committee with full details of these applications and their outcomes as soon as possible.

9. DRAFT SOEID CIRCULAR ON EXCLUSION FROM SCHOOL

There was submitted Report No 1039/97 by the Director of Education indicating that the SOEID had commissioned an extensive research project into Exclusion from School and, partly based on the findings of that research, and partly on the basis of statutory requirements, had issued a draft Circular, a copy of which was appended to the Report.

Possible comments on the contents of the draft Circular were also appended to the Report.

The Committee approved the terms of the Report and the terms of the draft response to the SOEID and asked the Director of Education, in his response, to ask the Department when seeking comments on documents in future to have regard to local authority meeting timetables and to allow a longer period for the submission of comments.

10. SOEID INITIATIVE - IMPROVING PERFORMANCE IN SCOTTISH SCHOOLS: STANDARDS AND TARGETS

There was submitted Report No 1048/97 by the Director of Education indicating that Mr Brian Wilson, Minister for Education, had written to the Conveners of Scottish Local Authorities in July outlining his plans for setting targets for improvement in schools throughout Scotland and had set up an Action Group on Standards which would meet, under his chairmanship, to take forward the Government’s commitment to ensuring the development of a national framework capable of taking full account of existing approaches to raising standards. The membership of the Group was widely drawn and its composition, which had been arrived at as a result of direct invitation by the Scottish Office, included Mrs Ann Reeve, Senior Teacher at Kinloch Primary School.

In addition the SOEID had issued a consultation document entitled "Setting Targets: A Strategy to Raise Standards" which set out the Government’s strategy for the development of a framework of school targets in key areas, for national introduction in the school year 1998/99. It was proposed that the Education Department’s existing Working Group on Quality Assurance which had been extended to include representatives from the primary sector, be involved in the drafting of a response to the consultation document.

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

(i) to note, in particular, the establishment by the Minister for Education of an Action Group on Standards;

(ii) to note the publication of a consultative framework for improving performance in Scottish schools;

(iii) to delegate to the Director of Education authority to prepare a response (in conjunction with the Education Department’s Quality Assurance Working Group) to the consultation document for submission by the deadline of 17 November 1997;

(iv) to instruct the Director of Education to report on the terms of the response to the next meeting of the Education Committee, and

(v) that Mrs Ann Reeve be congratulated on her appointment to the Action Group on Standards.

11. REVIEW OF SCHOOL PROVISION

With reference to Article 6 of the minute of meeting of the Education Committee of 3 June 1997 there was submitted Report No 1044/97 by the Director of Education reminding members of the motion adopted by the Committee on 3 June 1997 instructing that a Report be brought forward examining education provision in Angus in order that a coherent and strategic approach to school closures, if required, could be achieved;

The Report set out the Education Department’s commitment to the Council’s aim of providing excellent public services maximising the use of available resources to meet identified needs; the advice from the Accounts Commission published in "Room for Learning: Managing Surplus Capacity in School Buildings" and the terms of SOEID Circular No 6/97 referred to in Article 8 above indicating that funding could be made available on the basis of "Spend to Save" investments being undertaken for school rationalisation programmes;

The Report analysed the current spread of school provision in Angus, proposed an approach for examining the continuing viability of small school on an individual and area basis and recommended the commencement of discussions on the contents of the Report with staff and parents of the Council’s smallest schools.

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

(i) having taken careful account of the clear and unambiguous advice from the Accounts Commission, reluctantly to accept the need, in principle, to review primary school provision;

(ii) to note that such an approach might offer the Council both opportunities for rationalisation and the possibility of speeding up much needed improvement to the fabric of school buildings generally;

(iii) to adopt the criteria outlined in the body of the Report when considering the viability of small schools as applied in terms of:

cognitive development of pupils
personal and social development of pupils
alternative arrangements
community related factors
value for money/value for effort;

(iv) to affirm the desirability of examining school provision on a local area basis where any closure/merger proposals were considered;

(v) to instruct the Director of Education to continue to monitor school provision in light of (i), (ii) and (iii) above and to report back periodically to this Committee; and

(vi) to authorise the Director of Education to engage in informal discussions on the contents of this report with staff and parents of the Council’s smallest schools and with other interested parties should the need arise and report back to this Committee on the outcome of these discussions in early course.

12. NEWTYLE SCHOOL - CLOSURE OF SECONDARY DEPARTMENT AND TRANSFER OF DELINEATED AREA

With reference to the minute of the Special Meeting of the Education Committee of 26 June 1997 there was submitted Report No 1040/97 by the Director of Education outlining the responses to the further consultation exercise recently undertaken and recommending the closure of the secondary department of Newtyle School with the consequent transfer of its delineated area to those of Monifieth High School and Forfar Academy.

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

(i) to note the representations made in response to the consultation exercise, copies of which had been made available in the members’ lounge;

(ii) to instruct the Director of Education to seek formally the consent of the Secretary of State for Scotland to a proposal that:-

a) the secondary department of Newtyle School be discontinued with effect from 3 July 1998; and

b) the existing delineated area of the secondary department of Newtyle School be subsumed within the delineated area of Monifieth High School and also continue to be subsumed within the delineated area of Forfar Academy;

(iii) to authorise the Director of Education to make further representations to Dundee City Council - in the context of the consultation exercise in which they were currently engaged proposing alterations to the delineated areas of Harris Academy and Menzieshill High School - highlighting parental views which had been expressed to him by Angus residents likely to be affected by the proposals; and

(iv) to confirm that, with effect from 3 July 1998 Newtyle School would be known as Newtyle Primary School.

13. SCHOOL SPORTS DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVES

There was submitted Report No 1046/97 by the Director of Education indicating that Angus Council had been invited by the Scottish Sports Council to consider participating in two school sports development initiatives - (i) a primary school initiative - the Top Play/BT Top Sport initiative; and (ii) a secondary school initiative - the School Sport Co-ordinator Project; which were seen by the Scottish Sports Council as key projects in increasing the participation of young people in sport both in school and in the wider community.

The Education Department agreed to work with the Scottish Sports Council in establishing pilot projects in Angus schools involving seven Primary Schools in Arbroath and Arbroath Academy.

The Scottish Sports Council had agreed to jointly fund the extension of the Top Play/Top Sport initiative to all Angus primary schools over a 3/4 year period and the School Sport Co-ordinator initiative was likely to develop into a national initiative with full funding being made available through Lottery money and through provision which would be made available from the recently announced New Opportunities Fund.

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

(i) to endorse the involvement of Angus schools in the pilot projects;

(ii) to approve, in principle, the possibility of Angus Council and the Scottish Sports Council jointly funding the primary school initiative beyond the life of the pilot; and

(iii) to note the likelihood of the secondary school initiative being launched as a national initiative in Scotland to be funded through Lottery money.

14. NURSERY EDUCATION - DEVELOPMENTS 1997/98

With reference to Article 7 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 22 April 1997 there was submitted Report No 1041/97 by the Director of Education providing up-to-date information on the recent extension of pre-school provision and, in particular, changes to the provision at Ladyloan Primary, Letham Primary, Seaview Primary and Tannadice Primary Schools.

The Committee noted the terms of the Report and in particular the likelihood that 90% of Primary 1 pupils in 1998/99 and subsequent years would enter Primary 1 with the benefit of one year’s experience in a Council run nursery.

15. HERITAGE OF SCOTLAND

With reference to Article 16 of the minute of meeting of the Recreation and Cultural Services Committee of 9 October 1997 there was submitted joint Report No 1018/97 by the Chief Executive and the Directors of Cultural Services and Education proposing that a festival be established in Angus to celebrate the Scots Language, culture and heritage, including music, dance, drama, literature, language, visual arts and crafts utilising Council venues as locations for some of the performances.

The Committee, for its interest, noted the terms of the Report and agreed:-

(i) that the appropriate officers be instructed to proceed with the organisation of a pilot Scots festival in 1998; and

(ii) that sources of funding for a festival administrator be investigated.

16. JOINT COMMUNITY CARE PLAN 1997-2000

With reference to Article 13 of the minute of meeting of the Social Work Committee of 7 October 1997 there was submitted Report No 1016/97 by the Director of Social Work, indicating that the final draft of the Angus Joint Community Care Plan 1997/2000 had now been completed.

The Committee, for its interest, noted the terms of the Report.