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ANGUS COUNCIL

MINUTE of MEETING of the EDUCATION COMMITTEE held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Tuesday 26 August 1997 at 4.00 pm.

Present: Councillors BRIAN M C MILNE, Mrs KATHLEEN RITCHIE, Provost Mrs FRANCES E DUNCAN, JACK GIBB, Mrs RENATE LAMONT, GLENNIS MIDDLETON, GEORGE NORRIE, RICHARD SPEIRS, Mrs SHEENA WELSH and SANDY WEST; Fr M MILTON, Rev Dr R MACKENZIE, Ms M KINGSTON and Mr BRIAN McHARDY.

Apologies: Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Councillor HELEN ANGUS and Mr PETER ANDREWS.

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 items 2, 3 and 4 below 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 4.

2. BURSARY APPLICATIONS 1997/98

With reference to Article 1(c)(vi) of the minute of meeting of the Education Committee of 27 August 1996, there was submitted Report No 859/97 by the Director of Education regarding bursary applications for 1997/98.

The Committee agree:-

(i) that the application by Student 1 be refused;

(ii) that a bursary (fees only) be awarded to Student 2;

(iii) that the application by Student 3 be refused; and

(iv) that a bursary (fees only) be awarded to Student 4 subject to the applicant being awarded a place.

3. CENTRAL GRANTS TO NATIONAL ORGANISATIONS AND OTHER OUTSIDE BODIES

With reference to Article 3 of the minute of meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee of 7 May 1996, there was submitted Report No 854/97 by the Director of Education giving details of grants under £500 approved in accordance with agreed Council policy and seeking approval for grants over £500 to national organisations and other outside bodies.

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

(i) to note those grants of under £500 which had been approved under delegated authority; and

(ii) to approve the grants over £500 as set out in the Report.

Councillors George Norrie and Mrs Kathleen Ritchie declared an interest in the following item and took no part in the discussion thereof.

4. COMMUNITY EDUCATION SERVICE - REVENUE GRANTS TO VOLUNTARY ORGANISATIONS 1997/98

With reference to Article 3 of the minute of meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee of 7 May 1996, there was submitted Report No 855/97 by the Director of Education giving details of grants under £500 made under delegated authority and seeking approval of grants exceeding £500 to voluntary organisations.

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

(i) to note those grants under £500 (totalling £3,750) as detailed in the Report made under delegated authority; and

(ii) to approve the grants exceeding £500 (totalling £17,000) as detailed in the Report

5. MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETINGS

The minutes of meetings of this Committee of 3 June and 26 June 1997 were approved as correct records and signed by the Convener.

6. MINUTE OF EXECUTIVE SUB-COMMITTEE

The minute of meeting of the Executive Sub-Committee of 2 July 1997, a copy of which is appended hereto, (APPENDIX I) was submitted and noted.

7. ADOPTION LEAVE POLICY

With reference to Article 22 of the minute of meeting of the Personnel and Property Services Committee of 10 June 1997, there was submitted Report No 664/97 by the Director of Personnel setting out an adoption leave policy for Council employees. The appropriate trade unions had been consulted on, and were in agreement with, the terms of the policy.

The Committee agreed that the policy be applied to teaching staff.

8. SCHOOL SECURITY

With reference to Article 8 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 4 March 1997, there was submitted Report No 858/97 by the Director of Education outlining the progress made in implementing the Council's school security policy adopted in the light of the Cullen Report.

The Report noted, in particular, that a risk assessment questionnaire had been completed for each school which, together with visits to the buildings, had led to the preparation of a programme of necessary works as set out in the Appendix to the Report. In-Service training courses had been developed and the process of issuing staff with identity badges would be completed by October 1997.

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

(i) to note the improved security measures implemented to date; and

(ii) to instruct the Director of Education to bring forward a further progress report in due course.

9. HEALTH AND SAFETY POLICY

There was submitted Report No 857/97 by the Director of Education setting out the steps which had been taken in the preparation of the Department's Health and Safety Policy (a copy of which had been deposited in the Members' Lounge).

The Committee approved the terms of the Report and endorsed the Education Department's revised Health and Safety Policy.

10. EARLY INTERVENTION

With reference to Article 8 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 22 April 1997, there was submitted Joint Report No 860/97 by the Director of Education and the Director of Personnel indicating that the Council's application to the SOEID Early Intervention Grants Programme had resulted in a grant of £119,000 to be made available in each of the three financial years 1997/98, 1998/99 and 1999/2000. The SOEID had increased the original level of funding available and would this assist the Council to develop, more effectively and within a shorter time scale, the early intervention strategies set out in Report No 436/97. This would include support for increased staff development opportunities for infant staff and Support Learning staff and the recruitment of five part-time nursery nurses to support schools in addressing marked levels of underachievement.

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

(i) to note the details of the finalised SOEID Early Intervention Grants Programme;

(ii) to note the details of the award to Angus Council and to endorse the proposals made in respect of the additional monies which had been made available;

(iii) to approve, for its interest, the establishment of five part-time temporary nursery nurse posts on a fixed term basis for the duration of the project; and

(iv) to refer the Report to the Personnel and Property Services Committee for its approval of the increased establishment and the recruitment procedure.

11. IMPROVED STANDARDS OF TEACHING - SOEID REQUEST FOR COMMENTS

There was submitted Report No 870/97 by the Director of Education outlining the terms of a proposed response to a recent request from the Scottish Office for comments on how best to introduce a simplified framework within which education authorities could take prompt and effective action to remove incompetent teachers, when essential.

The Report indicated that the Council already had in place procedures for addressing any concerns regarding the competence of an individual teacher and discussion had been taking place within the JCC (Teachers) about the local scheme of disciplinary and grievance procedures. The only specific issue on which no agreement had yet been reached related to the procedures for the dismissal of teachers.

After hearing Mr McHardy, the Committee agreed:-

(i) to authorise the Director of Education to send Report No 870/97 as the Council's response to the SOEID letter of 30 July 1997 (a copy of which was attached to the Report);

(ii) to note the consultation which had already taken place with teachers’ representatives with a view to reaching agreement on disciplinary and grievance procedures; and

(iii) to instruct the Director of Education to continue this process with a view to reporting back to this Committee at an early date, ideally with a mutually acceptable set of arrangements.

12. PREMATURE RETIREMENT - TEACHERS

There was submitted Report No 850/97 by the Director of Education indicating that the Scottish Pensions Agency (SOPA) had undertaken a consultation exercise between October 1996 and February 1997 which had resulted in the following changes to the Scottish Teachers Superannuation Scheme (STSS) and Early Retirement/Early Severance arrangements with effect from 1 September 1997:-

(i) the full additional cost of a teacher's premature retirement would be payable by the employer who granted the teacher's request for early retirement;

(ii) the employer's contribution rate would reduce from 8% of pensionable pay to 6.9% of pensionable pay;

(iii) teachers would have to be regarded as permanently unfit to teach in order to quality for ill-health retirement; and

(iv) teachers barred for misconduct would not be eligible for ill-health retirement.

The reduction in the employer's contribution had been estimated to result in a saving to the Council of £280,000 in a full financial year and £163,000 in 1997/98.

In the circumstances, it was regarded as desirable that maximum flexibility be retained but that each individual request for early retirement should be considered on its own merits. However it was stressed that the Council had no choice but to consider a request principally on the basis of its financial implications.

The proposed policy statement on retirement of teachers was attached as an appendix to the Report.

COUNCILLOR MILNE, SECONDED BY COUNCILLOR MRS RITCHIE, MOVED APPROVAL OF REPORT NO 850/97 AND THAT THE EDUCATION COMMITTEE AGREE:-

(I) TO APPROVE THE POLICY STATEMENT APPENDED THERETO AND AUTHORISE THE DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION TO MONITOR THE APPLICATION OF THE POLICY AND TO MAINTAIN A DIALOGUE WITH TEACHERS' REPRESENTATIVES ON ITS EFFECTS; AND

(II) TO AUTHORISE THE DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION, IN CONSULTATION WITH THE DIRECTOR OF FINANCE, TO MONITOR THE ON-GOING FINANCIAL POSITION.

Mr McHardy, seconded by Councillor Speirs, moved that the Education Committee:-

(i) note the policy statement appended to the Report;

(ii) ask the appropriate officers to explore the implications of capitalising monies accrued by the reduction of the employer's contribution rate;

(iii) agree that discussion continue at the Joint Consultative Committee (Teachers); and

(iv) agree that a further Report be submitted to an early meeting of this Committee.

On a vote being taken, the members voted:-

For the motion:-

Councillors Milne, Mrs Ritchie, Provost Mrs Duncan, Gibb, Mrs Lamont, Middleton, Norrie, Mrs Welsh, West, Dr Mackenzie (10).

For the amendment:-

Councillors Speirs, Fr Milton, Ms Kingston and Mr McHardy (4).

The motion was declared carried and the Committee resolved accordingly.

13. SCHOOL CONVEYANCE CONTRACTS - REVIEW OF CONTRACT PRICES

There was submitted Joint Report No 856/97 by the Director of Education and the Director of Planning, Transport and Economic Development indicating that school conveyance contract prices were reviewed on an annual basis, either on 1 July each year or on the day immediately after the end of the academic session, whichever was the later.

The school conveyance contracts for the Forfar and Kirriemuir areas and Dundee special education contracts had been retendered for the 1997/98 academic session and were not subject to an inflationary price increase.

Under the approved formula, an annual increase in contract prices effective from 3 July would be 3.75% and would apply to all school conveyance contracts of more than 17 months duration entered into prior to 1 January 1997 which continued to operate in the 1997/98 academic year.

The Committee approved the terms of the Report and approved the award of a 3.75% contract price increase for eligible contracts effective from 3 July 1997.

14. ALTERNATIVES TO EXCLUSION - SCOTTISH OFFICE GRANT PROGRAMME

With reference to Article 7 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 3 June 1997, there was submitted Report No 851/97 by the Director of Education intimating that the bid for grant funding from Angus Council for a project targeted at young people in the 10-14 age range as a measure to prevent exclusion from school during the remainder of their school careers had been accepted by the Scottish Office in its entirety without amendment.

The grant of £43,900 payable in 1997/98 would cover the full cost of the project with no additional financial contribution from the Council. The grant of £40,200 payable in 1998/99 was conditional on the Council incurring expenditure of £20,100 in that year and similarly the grant of £39,600 in 1999/2000 assumed expenditure by the Council of £19,800.

The Committee noted and welcomed the terms of the Report.

15. REPORTING INCIDENTS OF VIOLENCE - SOEID CIRCULAR NO 5/97

There was submitted Report No 852/97 by the Director of Education drawing attention to the terms of SOEID Circular 5/97, a copy of which was appended to the Report, regarding the introduction of a formal system of reporting, recording and monitoring incidents of violence against school staff.

The Report indicated that Angus Council already had well-established procedures for reporting incidents of violence which were consistent with the advice contained in Circular 5/97. However, it was felt that there would be merit in using the publication of the circular as a means of re-emphasising the importance of logging and reporting all incidents of violence as part of an overall approach aimed at eliminating violent acts entirely from schools.

The Committee approved the terms of the Report and agreed:

(i) to affirm its support for the advice contained in SOEID Circular 5/97 and to note that the Council already had in place procedures consistent with this advice; and

(ii) to instruct the Director of Education to remind Head Teachers that they should have received Circular 5/97 and to re-emphasise the importance of logging and reporting all incidents of violence in schools.

16. SOEID CONSULTATION - PARTNERSHIP IN INITIAL TEACHER EDUCATION

There was submitted Report No 853/97 by the Director of Education indicating that the General Teaching Council for Scotland had been asked by the previous government to prepare a report on partnership in initial teacher education, which had now been completed and submitted to the government. A copy of the full version of the Report had been made available in the Members' Lounge.

The Scottish Office had sent the GTC Report to interested parties seeking comments and the Report No 853/97 set out the recommendations of the GTC Report and draft responses thereto.

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

(i) to note the terms of the GTC Working Group's Report on Partnership in Initial Teacher Education; and

(ii) to authorise the Director of Education to send the response as set out in Report No 853/97 to the SOEID in response to their request for comments.