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APPENDIX  to the minute of the meeting of the Education Committee of 3 June 1997 (Article 5 refers)

MINUTE of MEETING of the JOINT CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE (TEACHERS) held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Thursday 22 May 1997 at 4.00 pm.

Present: Education Committee Representatives

Councillors BRIAN MILNE, HELEN ANGUS and SANDY WEST.

Teachers' Representatives

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

Councillor MILNE, in the Chair at the commencement of the meeting.

1. APPOINTMENT OF CONVENER

Councillor Milne asked, in accordance with the terms of the Constitution of the JCC (Teachers), for the teachers’ representatives to appoint the Convener for the forthcoming year from amongst their number.

The teachers’ representatives indicated that Mr David Drysdale had been appointed as Convener.

Thereupon Mr Drysdale took the Chair.

2. MINUTE OF MEETING OF 21 FEBRUARY 1997

The minute of meeting of this Committee of 21 February 1997 was submitted and approved as a correct record.

3. SCHOOL TERMS AND HOLIDAYS 1998/1999

With reference to paragraph 3 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 21 February 1997, the Director of Education submitted a note of proposed school terms and holidays for 1998/99 amended to take account of the views expressed by the teachers’ representatives during a consultation exercise.

Arthur Pritchard indicated that the teachers’ side were generally happy with the proposals but would have preferred, in view of the proximity of 30 November to the Christmas break, the St Andrew's Day holiday to be one of the optional holidays to be fixed by the school boards.

Councillor Milne outlined the responses to the consultation exercise on this point and indicated that the members of the Council felt that the St Andrew’s Day holiday should be observed. Thereafter the proposals were accepted.

4. PREMATURE RETIREMENT - TEACHERS

The Director of Education submitted a draft of a report outlining the implications of the Scottish Office Pensions Agency's decision to amend the Scottish Teachers Superannuation Scheme and Early Retirement/Early Severance arrangements with effect from 1 September 1997 to the effect that the full additional cost of a teacher’s premature retirement would be payable by the employer.

The Report set out a possible policy for adoption by the Council effective from 1 September 1997 to deal with requests for early retirement, with and without enhancement, and which, it was hoped, would assist teachers in planning for the future.

Mr Lusby indicated that the teachers’ side accepted that it was a difficult area but he felt that there was room for more flexibility in the proposed policy. The Convener indicated that there appeared to be little difference between the sides and suggested that the policy be the subject of further discussion. The Director of Education agreed to meet teachers’ representatives on an informal basis with a view to agreeing minor amendments to the wording of the proposed policy statement, on the clear understanding that a report on this matter would be submitted to an early meeting of the Education Committee and no later than August 1997.

5. DISCIPLINARY AND GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES FOR TEACHERS

With reference to paragraph 4 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 21 February the Director of Education submitted a draft Report on disciplinary and grievance procedures for teachers which had been amended in the light of further comments received from the teachers’ side. Arthur Pritchard asked if further discussion could take place to enable the teachers’ side to obtain more clarification regarding the offences which would fall within the definition of gross misconduct as set out in Appendix I to the Report.

He indicated that the teachers side had expressed a firm view that the procedures for the dismissal of teachers as set out in Option 1 of Appendix III (ie that the power to dismiss a teacher would be retained by the Education Committee) would give the teachers confidence that impartiality was built into the system. Councillor Milne indicated that this option did not conform to the ACAS Code of Practice on Discipline which indicated that there should be an internal appeals mechanism against all forms of formal disciplinary action.

John Lusby indicated that the teachers’ representatives had every confidence in the current Director's impartiality but felt that the adoption of Option 1 would provide safeguards for the future.

The Director of Education indicated that he would be happy to have further discussions regarding minor amendments to the terms of Appendix I and indicated that, since there would be a delay in the submission of a report to Committee until August, he proposed to seek further information regarding the procedures adopted by other education authorities in Scotland for the dismissal of teachers.

6. SCHOOL DISCIPLINE - ASSAULTS ON STAFF - DECEMBER 1996 - MAY 1997

There was submitted information by the Director of Education regarding the number of incidents of assault on staff reported between December 1996 and May 1997.

The Committee noted the terms of the Report and the action taken. John Lusby stressed the need for efforts to be concentrated on preventative measures.

In response to a question from Arthur Pritchard regarding a proposed pilot Early Intervention scheme Councillor Milne indicated that such a scheme would be operated with flexibility.

Arthur Pritchard was assured by the Director of Education that Exclusion guidance would be issued once the Scottish Office Research Project had reported.

7. STAFF DEVELOPMENT AND REVIEW

With reference to paragraph 6 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 21 February 1997 Mr Steve Cargill indicated that whilst the teachers welcomed the scheme as proposed by Angus Council they felt that the quality of the process was paramount and suggested that, in the context of financial constraints, the scheme be suspended for one year.

The Director of Education indicated that he had strong reservations about a blanket postponement of the procedures and stressed that participation was voluntary.

Arthur Pritchard indicated that the process did take time and this, combined with the need to fulfil development plan requirements, created more pressure on both promoted and non-promoted staff involved.

The Director of Education indicated that in the light of the indication at the previous meeting that the teachers’ side would accept the proposals, details of the amended procedures were now in the process of being issued to staff inviting them to participate in the scheme.

It was agreed that a report would be submitted to the meeting of the JCC in Autumn 1997 providing monitoring information, including the level of uptake from teachers opting into Review for the first time. Thereafter, it was agreed that informal discussions between the Director of Education and teachers’ representatives on the JCC should form a useful part of the monitoring process.

8. HIGHER STILL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME

With reference to paragraph 8 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 21 February 1997 John Lusby re-stated the teachers continuing concern at the timescale and resource implications for the introduction of the Higher Still Programme but agreed that in the light of the result of the General Election it would be appropriate to wait for an indication of the government's position. The Director of Education concurred.

9. CONSULTATIVE ARRANGEMENTS

With reference to Article 11 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 21 February 1997 Arthur Pritchard referred to discussions which had taken place regarding the possible establishment of a single Joint Consultative Committee for all staff employed by Angus Council. He stated that the teachers’ side were happy with the JCC (Teachers) as presently constituted. However, the teachers’ side were conscious of the time commitment made by elected members and suggested that one solution might be to reduce the elected member representation on the JCC (Teachers). Two smaller scale JCCs could be a more effective forum for discussion than one large Consultative Committee for all employees.

The Director of Education indicated that no decision had been taken on this issue and it had been remitted to him and to the Director of Personnel initially to discuss with representatives of various trade unions the future of joint consultative arrangements. However, the views of the teachers representatives had been noted and he hoped that an arrangement could be made that would be satisfactory to the officers and the teachers’ unions.