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ANGUS COUNCIL

MINUTE of MEETING of the EDUCATION COMMITTEE held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Tuesday 10 March 1998 at 4.00 pm.

Present: Councillors BRIAN M C MILNE, Mrs KATHLEEN RITCHIE, GEORGE P ALLAN, HELEN ANGUS, Provost Mrs FRANCES E DUNCAN, Councillors JACK GIBB, Mrs RENATE LAMONT, STEWART McGLYNN, GLENNIS MIDDLETON and SANDY WEST; Rev M CASSIDY, Ms M KINGSTON, Mr PETER ANDREWS and Mr BRIAN McHARDY.

Apologies: Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Councillors GEORGE NORRIE, RICHARD SPEIRS, SHEENA WELSH and Rev Dr R MACKENZIE.

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 disclosure of information which was exempt in terms of Part 1 of Schedule 7A to the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, paragraphs 6, 8, 9 and 10.

2. COMPUTER EQUIPMENT

(a) Primary Schools Computer Equipment

With reference to Article 11 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 25 November 1997, there was submitted Joint Report No 299/98 by the Director of Information Technology and the Director of Education (a) reporting on the procurement of computer equipment to enhance and improve the delivery of the 5-14 curriculum within primary schools in Angus and (b) recommending that the Finance and Information Technology Committee accept the tender received from Research Machines at a cost of £104,500 which was, for the reasons outlined in the Report, deemed to offer best value to the Council.

Having noted that this Report would also be considered by the Finance and Information Technology Committee on 17 March 1998, the Committee agreed, for its interest, to note the proposed procurement of computer equipment as outlined in the Report.

(b) Secondary Schools Computer Equipment

With reference to Article 11 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 25 November 1997, there was submitted Joint Report No 300/98 by the Director of Information Technology and the Director of Education (a) reporting on the procurement of computer equipment to enhance and improve delivery of the curriculum within secondary schools, and (b) recommending, for the reasons outlined in the Report, that the Finance and Information Technology Committee accept the tender received from Research Machines at a cost of £70,602 for the provision of computer equipment which best matched the specification.

Having noted that the Report would also be considered by the Finance and Information Technology Committee on 17 March 1998, the Committee agreed, for its interest, to note the proposed procurement of computer equipment as detailed in the Report.

3. MINUTE OF PREVIOUS MEETING

The minute of meeting of this Committee of 27 January 1998 was approved as a correct record and signed by the Convener.

4. MINUTES

(a) School Attendance Sub-Committee

The minute of meeting of the School Attendance Sub-Committee of 9 February 1998, a copy of which is appended hereto, (APPENDIX I) was submitted and noted.

(b) Joint Consultative Committee (Teachers)

The minute of meeting of the Joint Consultative Committee (Teachers) of 11 February 1998, a copy of which is appended hereto, (APPENDIX II) was submitted and noted.

(c) Central Consultative Committee

The minute of meeting of the Central Consultative Committee of 23 February 1998, a copy of which is appended to the minute of meeting of the Personnel and Property Services Committee of 17 March 1998, was submitted and noted.

(d) The Teachers’ Grievance and Premature Retirement Sub-Committee

The Director of Law and Administration reported on the outcome of the meeting of the Teachers’ Grievance and Premature Retirement Sub-Committee held earlier this day as set out in the minute, a copy of which is appended hereto, (APPENDIX III) which was noted.

5. IMPROVING MATHEMATICS EDUCATION 5-14

With reference to Article 8 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 21 January 1997, there was submitted Report No 275/98 by the Director of Education advising that revised Mathematics 5-14 Guidelines had been produced by the Director of Education in response to an HMI publication entitled "Improving Mathematics Education 5-14". The Report set out in an Appendix the key recommendations by HMI and sought approval of the revised Guidelines.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to approve the revised Mathematics 5-14 Guidelines proposed for Angus schools; and

(ii) to authorise the Director of Education to arrange for appropriate staff development in order to ensure that these Guidelines were fully understood and implemented.

6. 5-14 PROGRAMME - DEVELOPMENT OF LEVEL F GUIDELINES

There was submitted Report No 280/98 by the Director of Education reminding the Committee that National Guidelines covering the 5-14 programme had been issued by the Scottish Office several years ago. The Guidelines outlined minimum levels of attainment from Level A (for the youngest children in primary schools) to Level E (for older children up to and including those in S2) in all curricular areas. In response to the need for guidelines on attainment levels "beyond Level E", draft Guidelines on Level F had recently been issued for consultation by SOEID as outlined in a letter attached to the Report.

The Report explained the consultation exercise carried out by the Director of Education on the draft Level F Guidelines and set out the response which had been sent to SOEID by the deadline of 20 February which had incorporated the documented comments by various groups of teachers.

The Committee agreed to note that comments had been sent to SOEID in response to the draft 5-14 Level F Guidelines issued on 19 December 1997.

7. DEVOLVED SCHOOL MANAGEMENT - IMPLEMENTATION OF FINAL PHASE

With reference to Article 6 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 22 April 1997, there was submitted Report No 281/98 by the Director of Education advising that Scottish Office Guidelines recommended that all schools be fully engaged in Devolved School Management (DSM) by April 1998. Responses from those schools currently participating in the Council's DSM scheme had been extremely positive.

The Report (a) recommended that the nine schools which had not, to date, been included in the scheme be given responsibility for their devolved budgets with effect from the start of the financial year 1998/99, and (b) proposed that appropriate clerical support be recruited for each of these nine schools to bring them up to the Council's recommended staffing levels, thereby securing full implementation of the scheme.

Having noted that the terms of the Report would also be considered by the Personnel and Property Services Committee on 17 March 1998, the Committee agreed:-

(i) to approve, in principle, the extension of the Council's scheme of devolved school management to the nine remaining schools which had so far not been included in the scheme; and

(ii) to recommend that the Personnel and Property Services Committee approve the establishment of nine additional part-time clerical posts (or additional hours for current postholders as appropriate) as outlined in the Appendix to Report No 281/98.

8. LETHNOT PRIMARY SCHOOL

With reference to Article 6 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 25 November 1997, there was submitted Report No 282/98 by the Director of Education advising that, for the reasons outlined in the Report, closure of Lethnot Primary School would not be appropriate and recommending that procedures be put in place to appoint a Head Teacher.

The Committee agreed to authorise the Director of Education to fill the post of Head Teacher of Lethnot Primary School on a substantive basis with effect from August 1998.

9. IN-SERVICE CLOSURE DAYS

There was submitted Report No 274/98 by the Director of Education (a) setting out the current position regarding school closure days for in-service training of teachers, (b) detailing proposals for 1998/99 and (c) recommending wide consultation on the proposals for future patterns of school closure days for in-service training of teachers as outlined in the Report.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the in-service closure days for school pupils in 1998/99 as outlined in Appendix 1 to Report No 274/98;

(ii) to authorise the Director of Education to consult with parents and staff on in-service closure days in 1999/2000 and beyond, on the basis of the consultation document attached as Appendix 2; and

(iii) to instruct the Director of Education to report to the Education Committee on the outcomes of the consultation as soon as possible.

10. SCHOOL HOURS

There was submitted Report No 279/98 by the Director of Education (a) advising of the current school hours observed by primary and secondary schools in Angus, (b) setting out issues which required to be addressed including differentials in school starting and closing times, half day attendance, length of lunch break and nursery hours, (c) proposing minor amendments to current hours of attendance for pupils and (d) recommending that a consultation exercise be carried out on the proposals.

Mr Andrews said that he endorsed the proposed consultation exercise but expressed concern that the proposals would fail to meet local needs in favour of implementing uniformity in school hours across schools in Angus. He also expressed concern that there could be a greater potential for indiscipline amongst pupils should the length of lunch-break be increased. Mr McHardy supported the views expressed by Mr Andrews and stressed that full consultation should be carried out prior to the implementation of any revisions to current school hours.

Having heard the Director of Education on the potential for variations in schools hours widening to unacceptable levels, the Committee agreed:-

(i) to endorse, in principle, the broad thrust of Report No 279/98;

(ii) to authorise consultation on the proposals contained in the Report with parents and staff, and specifically, with School Boards and within the Council's formally agreed consultative framework; and

(iii) to instruct the Director of Education to report back on the outcomes of the consultation as soon as possible.

11. ARBROATH TECHNOLOGY INITIATIVE

With reference to Article 6 of the minute of meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee of 9 December 1997, there was submitted Joint Report No 284/98 by the Director of Education and the Director of Information Technology (a) reminding the Committee that approval had been given for an allocation of funding from the Local Challenge Fund in respect of an Arbroath Technology Initiative, involving both Arbroath Academy and Arbroath High School, (b) outlining proposals to establish an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Initiative at both schools, (c) advising that it was hoped that elements of the Initiative would provide a model which could be replicated in other Angus secondary schools and (d) recommending that tenders be sought for computer equipment at an estimated cost of £290,000, as detailed in the Report.

Having noted that the terms of the Report would also be considered by the Finance and Information Technology Committee on 17 March 1998, the Committee agreed:-

(i) to note, for its interest, the contents of Report No 284/98; and

(ii) to recommend that the Director of Information Technology be authorised to issue tenders for the work.

12. SCHOOL BOARDS

(a) Position Statement

With reference to Article 9 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 25 November 1997, there was submitted Report No 283/98 by the Director of Education advising of the outcome of the School Board biennial elections and subsequent by-elections to fill parental vacancies in a number of schools in Angus. An Appendix to the Report contained a detailed analysis of the situation in each of the Council's primary and secondary schools.

The Committee agreed to note the terms of the Report.

(b) Meeting with School Boards

The Committee noted that a meeting had been arranged with representatives of all School Boards and schools which did not have School Boards to which all members were invited, which would take place in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Wednesday 18 March 1998 at 7.30 pm.

13. SCOTTISH INSTITUTE OF SPORT

With reference to Article 2 of the minute of meeting of the Recreation and Cultural Services Committee of 5 March 1998, there was submitted Joint Report No 251/98 by the Director of Recreation Services and the Director of Education advising that the Scottish Sports Council had issued a paper entitled "The Scottish Institute of Sport Establishment" outlining proposals for establishing a Scottish Institute of Sport. The Report set out, in an Appendix, a corporate response from Angus Council on the content of the paper.

The Committee agreed to note, for its interest, the terms of the response.