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APPENDIX II to the minute of the meeting of the Education Committee of 4 March 1997 (Article 5(b) refers)

MINUTE of MEETING of the JOINT CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE (TEACHERS) held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Friday 21 February 1997 at 1.30 pm.

Present: Education Committee Representatives

Councillors BRIAN MILNE, WALLIE LEASK, Provost Mrs FRANCES E DUNCAN, Councillors HELEN ANGUS, Mrs SHEENA WELSH, SANDY WEST and GEORGE NORRIE.

Teachers' Representatives

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

Councillor MILNE, Convener, in the Chair.

1. MINUTE OF PREVIOUS MEETING

The minute of the meeting of this Committee of 1 October 1996 was submitted and approved as a correct record, with the teachers’ side indicating their opposition to the "smoking at work" policy.

2. REVENUE BUDGET

There were submitted (a) an extract of Report No 215/97 by the Director of Finance being the 1997/98 Provisional Revenue Budget for the Education Department and (b) an extract of Report No 216/97, being saving proposals for the Education Department.

Councillor Milne indicated that the savings shown in Report No 216/97 with a prefix C were totally unacceptable and would not be implemented and that the savings shown as B7 which arose from an amendment to the Teachers’ Superannuation Scheme would have to be reduced to £115,000 in the light of the recent announcement that the change would not be implemented until 1 September 1997. The teachers’ side expressed their concern about the usage of employers’ superannuation contributions to effect budget adjustments and were assured that such savings would be of a "one-off" nature.

Mr McHardy expressed disappointment that more time had not been given for consultation on the areas in which savings were being sought. He felt that savings B2, B4 and B5 would have an effect on the quality of education provided and that the Council should instead consider a reduction in the training provision (savings A22 and A29) in particular in Staff Development and Review. A reduction in training was regarded as being less critical than the likely impact on the quality of educational provision of the proposed savings in learning support and behavioural support.

Councillor Leask gave an assurance that the Council would aim to develop a budget at a level not less than the maximum allowance under capping legislation. The teachers’ representatives accepted that savings of the levels indicated would require to be made but enquired if the Council would be prepared to be flexible about where these could be achieved. Councillor Milne indicated this would be acceptable and it was agreed that teachers’ representatives should meet the Director to discuss the matter as soon as possible.

3. SCHOOL TERMS AND HOLIDAYS 1998/99

There was submitted a draft Report by the Director of Education setting out proposed school terms and holidays for 1998/99. The teachers’ representatives indicated that they supported the pattern which had been adopted in previous years.

Thereafter, the Committee approved the terms of the Report as a basis for consultation.

4. DISCIPLINARY AND GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES

There was submitted a draft Report by the Director of Education setting out proposed local disciplinary and grievance procedures for teaching staff.

Mr McHardy indicated that he felt that there had not been sufficient time for consultation on the proposals and asked if consideration of the Report by the Education Committee could be deferred. He felt it was important that the procedures adopted by the Council should have the confidence of staff and include a right of appeal at every stage.

Councillor Milne indicated that he would arrange for the matter to be considered by the Education Committee at a later date, possibly at its meeting on 22 April 1997, to allow more time for the teachers’ representatives to submit their views.

5. PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE DEVOLVED SCHOOL MANAGEMENT SCHEME

There was submitted a draft of a Report by the Director of Education regarding proposed amendments to existing arrangements for the Devolved School Management Scheme.

Mr Lusby indicated the teachers’ representatives supported fully the proposed amendments but he highlighted the need for continual monitoring and evaluation of the impact of the Scheme.

6. STAFF DEVELOPMENT AND REVIEW

There was submitted a draft Report by the Director of Education regarding a proposed simplification of procedures for teacher review.

Mr Drysdale expressed appreciation of the efforts to make the process simpler but expressed the view that it was not a matter which was high on the list of teachers’ priorities. He suggested that, if necessary, the procedures could be suspended for the current year in light of the continuing financial constraints. Councillor Leask indicated that, while there was a commitment to Staff Development and Review by the Council, possible restrictions on its delivery could be discussed. Mr Pritchard indicated that, notwithstanding any decisions on the budget, the teachers' side would accept the proposals outlined in the paper on the understanding that these would be the subject of appropriate monitoring.

7. SCHOOL DISCIPLINE - ASSAULTS ON STAFF

There was submitted information by the Director of Education regarding the number of incidents of assault on staff reported between 1 September 1996 and 31 January 1997. Mr Pritchard indicated that, despite a letter from the Director reminding teachers of the need to report incidents, he felt that all were not being reported. He expressed the view that adequate learning and behavioural support were crucial in keeping the number of incidents down. Ms Anderson indicated that a serious incident which had occurred at Webster's High School on 24 October had not been included in the figures. The Director stated this was due to an administrative error for which he apologised. In explaining the background to this particular incident, the failure to report it in the standard format given to Head Teachers was understood by the Committee.

The Director reported that the Scottish Office had sought comments on draft advice to all authorities which followed the procedures already adopted by Angus Council.

In response to a question from Mr Pritchard, the Director said that the Troubled and Troublesome Group was making steady progress and he intended that adequate time be allocated to allow it to complete its work as comprehensively as possible.

8. HIGHER STILL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME - CONSULTATION AND ANALYSIS EXERCISES

There was submitted Report No 88/97 by the Director of Education which had been approved by the Education Committee regarding the outcome of the consultation and needs analysis exercises which had been conducted and setting out the Higher Still Development Unit's planning proposals until March 1998.

Mr Drysdale indicated that the exercise had been useful and had identified significant needs. He thanked the Director for the full information provided and expressed the view that approaches should be made in due course to the incoming government asking that adequate time and resources be allocated for the proper development of the Higher Still programme.

Councillor Milne thanked the teachers’ representatives for their comments and expressed his appreciation of the significant contribution to the exercises by teaching staff.

9. SAFETY IN SCHOOLS

The Director of Education reported that the Secretary of State had confirmed that funding of £10m was to be provided as part of a three year programme for the whole of Scotland for the improvement of safety in schools. The total available to Angus Council in 1997/98 would be £292,000, 75% of which would be provided by Central Government. The Education Department was now trying to systematise risk assessment in schools to provide a basis for a rolling programme of works.

Mr Pritchard indicated that the teachers’ representatives were happy with the work being carried out by the Education Department although he was aware that the finance provided would not be adequate to meet needs. The requirements of each school, in particular rural schools, would require individual attention.

10. FORMS OF CLASS ORGANISATION IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS AND THE EARLY YEARS OF SECONDARY SCHOOLS - "ACHIEVEMENT FOR ALL"

There was submitted Report No 92/97 by the Director of Education, which had been approved by the Education Committee, setting out guidelines for schools on appropriate ways of organising pupils into classes in the later stages of primary schools and in S1 and S2 of secondary schools and making reference to the Report published by HM Inspector of Schools entitled "Achievement for All".

Mr Lusby, while commending the Angus response, expressed the view that the Report "Achievement for All" raised questions regarding the integrity of HMI as it appeared to have been unduly influenced by Government Ministers and attacked the principles of comprehensive education.

The Committee accepted the proposals contained in the Report by the Director of Education.

11. CONSULTATIVE ARRANGEMENTS

Mr McHardy made reference to a letter received from the Director of Personnel inviting representative of teachers unions to attend a meeting on Monday 24 February to discuss consultative arrangements and expressed concern that Angus Council might consider a single Joint Consultative Committee for all staff employed by the authority. He said that, in view of the distinctive nature of the education service, a consultative forum with the teachers’ unions which could deal with educational matters in depth was justified. He sought an assurance from the Councillor representatives that the JCC (Teachers) would continue in its present form.

The Council members indicated that they personally valued the form of consultation provided by this JCC and that the meeting on 24 February was to be of an exploratory nature.