Angus CouncilTel: 03452 777 778

ANGUS COUNCIL

MINUTE of MEETING of the EDUCATION COMMITTEE held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Tuesday 25 November 1997 at 4.00 pm.

Present: Councillors BRIAN M C MILNE, Mrs KATHLEEN RITCHIE, GEORGE P ALLAN, HELEN ANGUS, Provost Mrs FRANCES E DUNCAN, Mrs RENATE LAMONT, STEWART McGLYNN, GLENNIS MIDDLETON, RICHARD B SPEIRS, SHEENA M WELSH and Rev Dr R MACKENZIE and Mr BRIAN McHARDY.

Apologies: Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Councillors JACK GIBB and GEORGE NORRIE and Ms M KINGSTON.

Councillor MILNE, Convener, in the Chair.

1. EXCLUSION OF PUBLIC AND PRESS

The Committee resolved in terms of Standing Order No 27(2) that the public and press be excluded during consideration of item 2 below so as to avoid the possible disclosure of information which was exempt in terms of Part 1 of Schedule 7A of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, Paragraph 1.

2. CO-ORDINATOR POSTS WITHIN THE EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT SERVICE

With reference to Article 2 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 3 June 1997, there was submitted Report No 1047/97 by the Director of Education indicating that, following a review of the work of the Educational Development Service in the light of an increased level of responsibility having been delegated to third tier and other officers, it was proposed to regrade and redesignate Co-ordinator posts.

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

(i) to regrade the posts of Co-ordinator (Sports Development) and Co-ordinator (Expressive Arts) to grade Principal Teacher Secondary (school roll over 1300); and

(ii) to redesignate the posts as Education Development Officer (Physical Education and Sports Development) and Education Development Officer (Expressive Arts) respectively.

3. MINUTE OF PREVIOUS MEETING

The minute of meeting of this Committee of 14 October 1997 was approved as a correct record and signed by the Convener.

4. MINUTE OF JCC (TEACHERS) OF 4 NOVEMBER 1997

The minute of a special meeting of the JCC (Teachers), a copy of which is appended hereto (Appendix), was submitted and noted.

5. CONSULTATIVE ARRANGEMENTS WITH EMPLOYEE REPRESENTATIVES

With reference to Article 4 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 14 October 1997, there was submitted Joint Report No 1057/97 by the Director of Personnel and the Director of Education indicating that, following discussions with representatives of the teacher associations and trade unions, it was proposed to establish (a) a Central Consultative Committee which would enable all employee representatives to consult with elected members on matters of mutual interest affecting all employees such as the budget, (b) two separate Joint Consultative Committees to address issues affecting only teacher association and non-teacher trade unions respectively and (c) Departmental Consultative Groups.

Proposed constitutions for these consultative committees were attached to the Report.

The Committee, for its interest, approved the terms of the Report and agreed to adopt the consultative framework as outlined in Report 1057/97 and in the constitutions attached to it.

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

With reference to Article 8 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 14 October 1997, there was submitted Report No 1206/97 by the Director of Education giving details of the applications to the Scottish Office Education and Industry Department for additional funding:-

(a) for additional Section 94 Consent for 1997/98 of £196,000 in respect of:-
information technology equipment; improvements at Murroes Primary School, Kinloch Primary School, Carnoustie, Montrose Academy, and Hayshead Primary School; and a Special Educational Needs facility at Locshide Primary School;

(b) under general "Spend to Save" 1998/99 of £330,000 for the upgrading of schools with particularly poor temporary accommodation viz Monikie Primary School and St Thomas Primary School, Arbroath; and

(c) for General Capital 1998/99 of £587,000 following a complete review of the condition of other schools where extensive use was made of temporary accommodation etc.

The Committee noted the terms of the Report and in particular that the application made under Spend to Save (School Rationalisation) Challenge Fund in respect of the proposed replacement of Hillside Primary School had been rejected by the Scottish Office.

7. SOEID CONSULTATION - "SETTING TARGETS: A STRATEGY TO RAISE STANDARDS"

With reference to Article 11 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 14 October 1997, there was submitted Report No 1201/97 by the Director of Education reminding members that he had been authorised to prepare a response to the SOEID document entitled "Setting Targets: A Strategy to Raise Standards" in conjunction with the Education Department’s Quality Assurance Working Group. A response, a copy of which was appended to the Report, had been submitted to the Scottish Office Education and Industry Department.

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

(i) to note the terms of the response which, as agreed by the Committee at its meeting on 14 October 1997, had been drawn up in consultation with the Education Department’s Quality Assurance Working Group and submitted to SOEID within the timescale previously intimated;

(ii) to note, in particular, the overall positive response being made to the proposals to establish a national framework for the setting of targets in schools;

(iii) to note also the recommendation made in the response that consideration be given to an extension to the timescale set down for the introduction of a national target setting system; and

(iv) to authorise the Director of Education to make appropriate arrangements for schools to receive support and guidance in order to develop existing good practice in setting targets within development planning procedures.

8. EDUCATION (SCOTLAND) ACT 1980 - GUIDELINES ON ARRANGEMENTS FOR PLACING REQUESTS

There was submitted Report No 1202/97 by the Director of Education indicating that the Scottish Office had written to all Directors of Education seeking comments on current arrangements for considering parental placing requests.

A draft response, a copy of which was appended to the Report, had been prepared, suggesting, in particular, that the second stage right of appeal by parents to a Sheriff was unnecessary.

The Committee approved the terms of the Report and agreed that the Director be authorised to forward the response to the Scottish Office as being the views of Angus Council.

9. SCHOOL BOARDS (SCOTLAND) ACT 1988: REGULAR ELECTIONS

With reference to Article 12 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 21 January 1997, there was submitted Report No 1204/97 by the Director of Education providing information on the forthcoming round of regular elections for School Boards.

The Report noted that, of the potential 67 parent member elections and 56 staff member elections, only 4 would require to be formally contested because more nominations had been received than vacancies existed.

The Committee noted the terms of the Report, expressed disappointment at the low levels of interest shown by parents and staff in the election process, and agreed that a further report be submitted following the round of by-elections to be held in the Spring term of 1998.

10. REVIEW OF SCHOOL PROVISION - SMALL PRIMARY SCHOOLS

With reference to Article 11 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 14 October 1997, there was submitted Report No 1183/97 by the Director of Education indicating that he had visited all 11 primary schools in Angus with current rolls of fewer than 25 pupils and, together with senior colleagues, had attended parents meetings in each of the 11 schools.

Two of the 11 schools, Tarfside and Glenisla, were in such remote locations that closure should not be considered unless there were to be a significant drop in roll and at Lethnot Primary School, which was also remote, it was suggested that existing staffing arrangements continue until July 1998. There were no pressing arguments for closure of seven of the remaining schools.

There was a long standing proposal to replace the current Hillside Primary School on a new site within Hillside. If the replacement went ahead, then it was suggested that Craigo Primary School, which currently had a roll of 10 pupils, should close and children be transferred to the new Hillside.

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

(i) to note the support expressed for small primary schools by parents of pupils in these schools;

(ii) to instruct the Director of Education to undertake a formal consultation exercise on proposals that:-

(a) the delineated areas of Craigo Primary School and Hillside Primary School should be merged;

(b) Craigo Primary School should be closed;

(c) pupils in Craigo Primary School and Hillside Primary School should transfer to the new merged school; and

(d) these changes should be effected upon completion of a new primary school on the site already earmarked for this purpose in Hillside.

(iii) to authorise the postponement of procedures to fill the post of Head Teacher of Lethnot Primary School until April 1998 in order to enable the present Acting Head Teacher to remain in post for a full school session, and to enable accurate information to be collected on likely enrolments in Lethnot Primary School in August 1998; and to instruct the Director of Education to report back on the situation in Lethnot Primary School by April 1998;

(iv) to affirm the view that each of Tarfside and Glenisla Primary Schools was too remote to be considered for closure other than in the event of either school having to cater for an exceptionally small pupil roll;

(v) to re-affirm acceptance of the need, in principle, to keep school provision under review, and while reluctantly acknowledging the possible need in future to consider school closure or merger proposals, to note that - other than the specific proposals outlined in (ii) above - no such proposals currently needed to be brought forward;

(vi) to instruct the Director of Education to continue to monitor the spread of school provision in Angus and to report back periodically; and

(vii) to authorise the Director of Education to share the Report with staff and parents of the Council’s 11 smallest schools with a view to offering as much reassurance as possible to these school communities.

11. REPLACEMENT OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY EQUIPMENT

There was submitted Joint Report No 1205/97 by the Director of Education and the Director of Information Technology outlining proposals for the purchase of information technology equipment for primary and secondary schools and identifying longer term issues regarding the financing of information and communication technology requirements.

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

(i) to approve the purchase of information technology equipment as outlined in the Report; and

(ii) to instruct the Directors of Education and Information Technology, in consultation with the Director of Finance, to bring forward a further report outlining funding options for Education Department information and communication technology requirements.

12. 1998/99 REVENUE BUDGET

There was submitted Report No 1203/97 by the Director of Finance advising the Committee of the latest position with regard to the preparation of the departmental 1998/99 revenue budget and associated issues.

There was also submitted an appendix to the Report summarising the departmental provisional base budget for 1998/99 as submitted to the Director of Finance.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the contents of the Report for its interest; and

(ii) to note that a more detailed Report with specific recommendations would be brought forward later in the budget cycle.

13. PROVISION OF SEAT BELTS ON SCHOOL CONVEYANCE CONTRACTS

There was submitted Joint Report No 1200/97 by the Director of Education and the Director of Planning, Transport and Economic Development outlining the current legislative position in respect of the provision of seat belts on school conveyance contracts and suggesting how further seat belt provision could be encouraged.

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

(i) that the Council maintain its current policy of awarding school conveyance contracts to operators providing vehicles with seat belts, where practicable, and where the costs involved were minimal and there were no adverse effects on the local bus service network;

(ii) that COSLA and the Scottish Office be asked to consider the issue of the provision of seat belts on school conveyance contracts on a Scotland wide basis;

(iii) that confirmation be sought from the Department of Transport regarding the checks to be introduced by the Vehicle Inspectorate on the fitting and safety of seat belts; and

(iv) that the Report be referred to the Planning and Transport Policy Committee for its interest.