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ANGUS COUNCIL

MINUTE of MEETING of the EDUCATION COMMITTEE held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Tuesday 4 March 1997 at 4.00 pm.

Present: Councillors BRIAN MILNE, WALLIE LEASK, GEORGE P ALLAN, HELEN ANGUS, Provost Mrs FRANCES E DUNCAN, JACK GIBB, Mrs RENATE LAMONT, GLENNIS MIDDLETON, GEORGE NORRIE, Mrs KATHLEEN M RITCHIE, RICHARD SPEIRS, Mrs SHEENA WELSH and SANDY WEST; Ms MADELINE KINGSTON and Mr BRIAN McHARDY.

Apologies: Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Rev Dr R MACKENZIE and Mr PETER ANDREWS.

Councillor MILNE, Convener, in the Chair.

Councillor Milne welcomed Ms Madeline Kingston to her first meeting of the Education Committee since her appointment by the Council as the third religious representative.

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 and 3 below so as to avoid the disclosure of information which was exempt in terms of Part 1 of Schedule 7A of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, paragraphs 4, 6, 8 and 9.

2. COMMUNITY EDUCATION SERVICE - REVENUE GRANTS TO VOLUNTARY ORGANISATIONS 1996/97

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 280/97 by the Director of Education regarding applications received from voluntary organisations for grant aid in excess of £500.

The Committee approved the terms of the Report and agreed that grants be made to voluntary organisations as set out below:-

REF NO NAME OF ORGANISATION AMOUNT REQUESTED GRANT APPROVED PURPOSE OF GRANT
         
14 Angus Guides Association HQ £725 £725 Administration costs
         
15 Ladenford Den Camp Site - Angus Guides Association £2,349 £2,000 Towards the cost of an industrial cooker
         
16 Kirriemuir Scout Group £3,700 £2,500 Towards the cost of canoeing equipment for the benefit of members of the Scout Association and other young people in Kirriemuir
         
17 Angus Association of Voluntary Organisations £2,000 £2,000 Administration and printing costs; and for training of community groups
         
  TOTAL OF AWARDS   £7,225  

3. COMPUTERISED ADMINISTRATION WITHIN SECONDARY SCHOOLS

There was submitted Joint Report No 286/97 by the Director of Education and the Director of Information Technology indicating that the SCAMP (Schools Computerised Administration and Management Project) currently in use in schools was reaching the end of its useful life and that detailed consideration had been given to alternative systems for use within secondary schools.

Having examined the options for replacement, the officers were satisfied that the Phoenix system met all the requirements of schools and that the suppliers, Scott Reid Associates, would work with the authority to ensure that data held within schools was transferable and compatible with central systems. The cost of the software was £18,000, which could be contained in the Education Department’s 1996/97 budget while the estimated ongoing support costs would be £1,600 per annum. The cost of additional hardware was estimated at £66,000, which could be met from the increased Section 94 borrowing consent for 1996/97.

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

(i) to approve the acquisition of the Phoenix software from Scott Reid Associates as a replacement to SCAMP; and

(ii) to approve the procurement of the required hardware.

4. MINUTE OF PREVIOUS MEETING

The minute of meeting of this Committee of 24 January 1997 was approved as a correct record and signed by the Convener.

5. MINUTES

(a) Attendance Sub-Committee

The minute of meeting of the Attendance Sub-Committee of 29 January 1997, a copy of which is appended hereto (APPENDIX I) was submitted and noted.

(b) JCC (Teachers)

The minute of meeting of the JCC (Teachers) held on 21 February 1997, a copy of which is appended hereto (APPENDIX II) was submitted and noted.

(c) Attendance Sub-Committee

The minute of meeting of the Attendance Sub-Committee of 28 February 1997, a copy of which is appended hereto (APPENDIX III) was submitted and noted.

6. INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY STRATEGY - EDUCATION DEPARTMENT

There was submitted Report No 296/97 by the Director of Education and the Director of Information Technology indicating that a comprehensive policy for information technology within the Education Department for curriculum and administrative requirements had been drawn up. A copy of the strategy had been placed in the Members’ Lounge.

The strategy proposed, among other things, that, within primary schools, there should be one computer per classroom and that the BBC computers should be replaced with IBM compatible personal computers and that this policy, already in progress within secondary schools, should be completed. In order to make progress, it was proposed to provide additional computers and thus move towards the replacement target outlined in the strategy. The estimated cost of additional hardware was £34,000 in the current financial year and this could be met from the increased borrowing consent levels recently approved by the Scottish Office.

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

(i) to approve the Departmental Information Technology Strategy as outlined therein;

(ii) to approve the purchase of computer hardware for both primary and secondary schools in 1996/97 to the value of £34,000; and

(iii) that the Report be referred to the Finance and Information Technology Committee for its interest.

7. THE DALE SCHOOL TRUST

With reference to Article 10 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 15 October 1996, there was submitted Report No 295/97 by the Director of Law and Administration indicating that the draft Scheme varying the terms of the Dale School Trust to widen its scope had been publicised and circulated to the Trustees. No objections or proposed amendments had been received within the statutory one month period and, accordingly, it was now proposed that the Scheme be implemented.

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

(i) to note that no objections or proposed amendments had been received to the draft Scheme to vary the terms of the Dale School Trust; and

(ii) to recommend that, in terms of Section 112(2) of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980, the Council resolve (a) to make the Scheme in terms of the draft Scheme and (b) to authorise the proper officer to sign the Scheme on its behalf, and notify the date of commencement of the Scheme to the Trustees of the Trust.

8. SCHOOL SECURITY

With reference to Article 7 of the minute of meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee of 26 October 1996, there was submitted Report No 288/97 by the Director of Education indicating the work which had been carried out in the light of the recommendations contained in the Cullen Report and suggesting that the Council should (a) foster an ethos which had proper regard for security matters, particularly in the context of school security, (b) develop guidelines and training packages and (c) prepare a programme of building work designed to improve the security of school buildings.

In this connection, the Scottish Office had indicated that expenditure allocations of £33.3 million would be available to Scottish authorities over a three year period, £13.3 million of this total being allocated in each of the financial years 1997/98 and 1998/99, and £6.7 million in 1999/2000. The sum available to Angus Council in 1997/98 would be £292,000 which would be partially offset by a specific grant of £219,000.

The Committee agreed:-

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

(ii) to instruct the Director of Education to bring forward a further report outlining how available resources were being utilised; and

(iii) to refer the Report to the Policy and Resources Committee.

9. YOUTH STRATEGY MEMBER/OFFICER GROUP - PROPOSAL TO HOLD AN ANGUS YOUTH CONFERENCE

With reference to Article 6 of the minute of meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee of 10 December 1996, there was submitted Report No 279/97 by the Director of Education regarding a proposal made by the Member/Officer Group on Youth Strategy to arrange an Angus Youth Conference. Arrangements had been made for a single day conference to be held on Thursday, 3 April 1997 in the CAFE Project in Arbroath to which the eight Action Groups consisting of local young people in each area would be invited.

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

(i) to endorse the proposal from the Youth Strategy Member/Officer Group that a Youth Conference be held in the CAFE (Community Alcohol Free Environment) in Arbroath on Thursday, 3 April 1997; and

(ii) to authorise the Director of Education to make the necessary arrangements.

10. WHITE PAPER ON EDUCATION AND SKILLS DEVELOPMENT IN SCOTLAND

There was submitted Report No 281/97 by the Director of Education indicating that, on 31 January 1997, the Government had published a White Paper entitled "Raising the Standard: A White Paper on Education and Skills Development in Scotland". A summary of the White Paper was attached to the Report.

The Committee noted the contents of the Report and agreed that the Director of Education should advise the Scottish Office of this Council’s concerns as follows:-

(i) that the Paper did not acknowledge the significant contributions made by Council staff, including teaching staff, and Councils themselves, to the delivery and development of a quality education service;

(ii) that there was a disappointing lack of any attempt to adopt a development planning approach to enable proper attention to be given to existing and new initiatives; and

(iii) that there was an alarming lack of reference to future resourcing levels for the Scottish education service as a whole, particularly at a time when more new initiatives appeared to be proposed while resources for education seemed to be diminishing.

11. COMMUNITY EDUCATION SERVICE - ADULT EDUCATION SERVICE

There was submitted Report No 278/97 by the Director of Education indicating that a briefing paper had been produced by the Principal Community Education Officers Scotland which outlined the adult education work currently being undertaken by the Community Education Service and set out proposals for the further development of this area of work.

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

(i) to note the document produced by the Principal Community Education Officers Scotland entitled "Changing Challenges - a Briefing Paper for the New Councils on Adult Education";

(ii) to recognise the importance of community based adult learning in the achievement of this Council’s commitment to sustaining viable communities;

(iii) to note the summary of adult education work currently being undertaken by the Angus Community Education Service; and

(iv) to support the forward plan for that work.

12. DEVOLVED SCHOOL MANAGEMENT - AMENDMENTS TO COUNCIL SCHEME

There was submitted Report No 285/97 by the Director of Education setting out proposed minor amendments to the existing Devolved School Management Scheme which would delegate to schools responsibility for a further seven areas of expenditure.

Having noted that the proposals had been considered by the JCC (Teachers) at its meeting on 21 February 1997 (Article 5 refers), the Committee approved the proposed amendments to the Council’s Scheme for Devolved School Management as set out in the paper attached to the Report.

13. SCHOOL TERMS AND HOLIDAY 1998/99

With reference to Article 7 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 15 October 1996, there was submitted Report No 284/97 by the Director of Education setting out proposals for school terms and holidays for 1998/99 as a basis for consultation.

Having noted that the proposals had been considered by the JCC (Teachers) at its meeting on 21 February 1997 (Article 3 refers), the Committee approved the terms of the Report and agreed that the Director of Education should seek the views of staff, trade unions, teachers’ associations, head teachers and school boards on the options outlined and report back to Committee once these views had been obtained.

14. NATIONAL TESTING IN S1 AND S2

There was submitted Report No 283/97 by the Director of Education indicating that, in May 1996, the Minister of State at the Scottish Office had announced that he intended to make regulations which would make national testing of pupils in S1 and S2 compulsory. The Education (Scotland) Act 1996 had since taken effect and had empowered the Secretary of State to make such regulations.

A Consultation Paper on this subject had been published on 11 February 1997 seeking responses by 31 March 1997. Copies of the Paper had been placed in the Members’ Lounge and the Report set out the terms of a possible response to the consultation document.

After discussion, the Committee expressed serious concerns regarding the flawed nature of the new national testing proposals and instructed the Director of Education to forward Report No 283/97 to the Secretary of State as being the Council’s response to the consultation document.

15. SCHOOL HEALTH SERVICE REVIEW

With reference to Article 15 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 4 June 1996, there was submitted Report No 282/97 by the Director of Education advising members on progress on the implementation of a pilot health screening scheme and the development of arrangements into a new scheme for health assessment of school-aged children. The key elements of the new scheme included (a) a review of all Primary 1 children being carried out by the school nurse, supported by a questionnaire to be completed by all parents and subsequent discussions involving the head teacher and school doctor with a view to identifying children with special needs who would then be the subject of more detailed assessment by the school doctor and (b) 14/15 year olds being issued with a questionnaire which would be the subject of assessment by the school nurse in consultation with the head teacher.

The Report suggested that the gains made by the pilot scheme be extended and consolidated and that (a) there should be confirmation of the continuance of an acceptable level of provision in terms of time and expertise from the relevant NHS Trusts; (b) prior to the extension of the pilot scheme to any school, there should be effective consultation with all interested parties at school level; (c) the use of questionnaires should be the subject of further evaluation so that these could be accurately completed without difficulty by all parents; (d) clear and explicit detail should be agreed for the principles of promotion of good health and the provision of expertise in the identification and management of child protection; and (e) these procedures should be developed without additional cost to the Council.

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

(i) to approve the phased extension of the pilot scheme; and

(ii) to instruct the Director of Education to report back on the formal evaluation and final implementation of the scheme in due course.

16. RECRUITMENT AND SELECTION PROCEDURES

With reference to Article 7 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 20 December 1995, there was submitted Report No 287/97 by the Director of Education drawing attention to the final version of the COSLA Code on Recruitment and Selection, a copy of which was appended to the Report. The Code recommended that councillors should not usually be involved in the recruitment for posts below chief officer level, other than in the case of Head Teachers, Depute Head Teachers and Assistant Head Teachers, where the involvement of elected members was laid down in Schedule 2 of the School Board (Scotland) Act 1988.

Having noted that the JCC (Teachers) at its meeting on 15 February 1996 (Article 5 refers) had supported a position that current arrangements should remain place until the end of session 1996/97 when a review of the system could then take place, the Committee approved the terms of the Report and agreed:-

(i) to note the final version of the Code on Recruitment and Selection;

(ii) to instruct the Director to consult with the teachers’ trade unions and professional associations regarding changes to current selection procedures for promoted teaching posts; and

(iii) to instruct the Director to report back to the Committee on the outcome of these consultations.

17. DEVELOPMENT OF SERVICES FOR CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES

With reference to Article 13 of the minute of meeting of the Social Work Committee of 25 February 1997, there was submitted Report No 252/97 by the Director of Social Work regarding proposals to utilise identified funding for the implementation of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 in order to establish a more comprehensive service for children with disabilities.

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