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ANGUS COUNCIL

MINUTE of MEETING of the EDUCATION COMMITTEE held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Tuesday 25 August 1998 at 4.00 pm.

Present: Councillors BRIAN M C MILNE, Mrs KATHLEEN RITCHIE, GEORGE P ALLAN, Mrs RENATE LAMONT, STEWART McGLYNN, GLENNIS MIDDLETON, GEORGE NORRIE, SHEENA WELSH and SANDY WEST; Rev M CASSIDY, Rev C ROBERTSON, Ms M KINGSTON and Mr BRIAN McHARDY.

Apologies: Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Provost Mrs FRANCES E DUNCAN and Councillors JACK GIBB and RICHARD SPEIRS and Mr PETER ANDREWS.

Councillor MILNE, Convener, in the Chair.

 

DEATH OF ALLAN MACARTNEY, MEP

Prior to the commencement of business, the Convener referred to the death, that morning, of Allan Macartney MEP. He said that in his work as an MEP, Allan Macartney had worked tirelessly for the people in his North-east Scotland constituency, which included Angus, and his death would be a great loss to colleagues, the people he represented and the Scottish National Party. Members joined the Convener in extending sympathy to his family.

Thereafter one minute’s silence was observed.

WELCOME

The Convener welcomed Reverend Carleen Robertson to her first meeting as the representative nominated by the Church of Scotland to serve on this Committee.

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 to the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, paragraphs 6, 8, 9 and 10.

2. COLLISTON SCHOOL - PROPOSED DISPOSAL OF LAND/CAPITAL GRANT - VILLAGE HALL

There was submitted Joint Report No 861/98 by the Director of Education and the Director of Property Services outlining a proposal to dispose of an area of land and to provide a capital grant for the construction of a new Village Hall in Colliston, and setting out the funding arrangements.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note that the total cost of replacing Colliston Village Hall would be £168,000;

(ii) to approve a capital grant of £21,000 in 1998/99 to the Colliston Village Hall Committee towards the cost of the project; and

(iii) to note that the Personnel and Property Services Committee would be asked to approve the terms of the sale of land amounting to 0.15 acres owned by the Council adjacent to Colliston Primary School.

3. 5-14 COMPUTER EQUIPMENT FOR SCHOOL NETWORKS

With reference to Article 22 of the minute of meeting of the Finance and Information Technology Committee held on 17 March 1998, there was submitted Joint Report No 863/98 by the Director of Information Technology and the Director of Education advising that, due to the need to implement the 5-14 computer equipment for school networks for use as early as possible in the new school session, the Directors of Education and Finance and Information Technology had, in consultation with the Conveners of the Education and Finance and Information Technology Committees, accepted the lowest adjusted tender for the equipment. The Report sought homologation of the decision to procure the equipment which would enhance and improve delivery of the 5-14, Standard Grade and Higher Grade curriculum within secondary schools.

The Committee agreed for its interest:-

(i) to approve the procurement of equipment and software from Research Machines at a cost of £37,668;

(ii) to homologate the decision of the Conveners to facilitate early implementation of the proposal; and

(iii) to refer the Report to the meeting of the Finance and Information Technology Committee to be held on 1 September 1998.

4. MINUTE OF PREVIOUS MEETING

The minute of meeting of this Committee of 9 June 1998 was approved as a correct and signed by the Convener.

5. MINUTES

(a) Executive Sub-Committee

The minute of meeting of the Executive Sub-Committee of 31 July 1998, a copy of which is appended hereto, (APPENDIX I) was submitted and noted.

(b) School Attendance Sub-Committee

The minute of meeting of the School Attendance Sub-Committee of 19 August 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 18 August 1998, a copy of which is appended to the minute of meeting of the Personnel and Property Services Committee of 1 September 1998, was submitted and noted.

6. SCHOOL TERMS AND HOLIDAYS 1999/2000

With reference to Article 5(c) above, there was submitted Report No 865/98 by the Director of Education setting out responses to consultation with parents and staff and detailing proposals for future in-service closure days and holiday dates for 1999/2000.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the contents of Report No 865/98; and

(ii) to approve the proposed school term and holiday dates set out in the Appendix to the Report.

7. BEST VALUE SERVICE REVIEW PLAN

With reference to Article 7 of the minute of meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee of 12 May 1998, there was submitted Report No 864/98 by the Director of Education detailing the proposed Best Value Service Review Plan for Education for the next five years. The Report explained the priority given to services in the plan, and set out the timetable for the 1998/99 review.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to approve, in principle, the five year Best Value Service Review Plan for Education; and

(ii) to approve the timetable for the first tranche of reviews in 1998/99 as detailed in the Appendix to the Report.

8. MEETING THE CHILDCARE CHALLENGE - A CHILDCARE STRATEGY FOR SCOTLAND

With reference to Article 6 of the minute of meeting of the Social Work Committee of 18 August 1998, there was submitted Joint Report No 817/98 by the Director of Social Work and the Director of Education summarising the Scottish Office Consultation paper entitled "Meeting the Childcare Challenge: A Childcare Strategy for Scotland" and setting out a proposed response to the consultation document.

The Committee agreed to approve the recommendations in Report No 817/98 for its interest.

9. CHILDREN AND FAMILIES IN RURAL ANGUS

With reference to Article 8 of the minute of meeting of the Social Work Committee of 18 August 1998, there was submitted Joint Report No 813/98 by the Director of Education and the Director of Social Work referring to the "Children and Families in Rural Angus Project" which had been established by Angus Council in partnership with Save the Children (Scotland). The project had become operational in February 1997, and the Report provided an update on the work of the project, which aimed to develop innovative approaches to supporting children and families in rural Angus.

The Committee agreed to approve the recommendations in Report No 813/98 for its interest.

10. SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS IN SCOTLAND - A DISCUSSION PAPER

With reference to Article 11 of the minute of meeting of the Social Work Committee of 18 August 1998, there was submitted Joint Report No 821/98 by the Director of Education and the Director of Social Work advising of a recent Government discussion paper on a wide range of issues related to the provision of education for children with special educational needs and setting out a proposed response.

The Committee agreed, for its interest:-

(i) to note the contents of the SOEID discussion paper;

(ii) to authorise a response to the Scottish Office Education and Industry Department in the terms of the Appendix to Report No 821/98; and

(iii) to confirm, in principle, the continuing efforts to establish and develop partnership arrangements for the provision of services for children with special educational needs.

11. COMPREHENSIVE SPENDING REVIEW - EXPANSION OF PRE-SCHOOL EDUCATION TO THREE YEAR OLDS - 1999/2002

With reference to Article 10 of the minute of meeting of the Social Work Committee of 18 August 1998, there was submitted Joint Report No 820/98 by the Director of Education and the Director of Social Work drawing attention to the recent Government announcement on the expansion of pre-school education to three year olds for 1999/2002 as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review. The Report highlighted some of the issues which would require to be addressed by the Council as a result of that announcement.

The Committee agreed, for its interest:-

(i) to endorse in principle an approach which would allow the Council to continue to be the main provider within Angus of pre-fives education (including education for 3 year olds);

(ii) to authorise further discussions with parents and staff on how best to extend the current nursery provision in rural areas as a high priority for 1999/2000;

(iii) to authorise further consideration of ways in which pre-fives provision could be extended within existing Council premises, including primary schools, Townhead Nursery School and the Arbroath Child and Family Centre;

(iv) to note the intention of the Directors of Education and Social Work to bring forward further reports if and when there were any firm proposals to incur additional capital expenditure in order to provide new pre-fives accommodation;

(v) to confirm support in principle for a systematic extension of partnership arrangements with the private and voluntary sectors;

(vi) to endorse and encourage all efforts locally to ensure that there was a sufficiently large pool of trained and qualified staff to make provision for all 3 and 4 year olds in Angus;

(vii) to authorise approaches to COSLA and to the Scottish Office highlighting the potential for staff shortages to hamper the Government’s intentions should no action be taken nationally to maintain an adequate support of trained staff across Scotland; and

(viii) to note concerns about the lack of any clear national childcare strategy being in place prior to taking forward what would be one very important strand in that strategy.

12. HIGHER STILL - PROPOSAL FOR TWO IN-SERVICE CLOSURE DAYS FOR SECONDARY PUPILS IN 1998/99

There was submitted Report No 866/98 by the Director of Education advising of a Government proposal, outlined in a letter from SOEID that secondary schools could be closed for pupils for two additional days in Session 1998/99 to enable teachers to undertake further training in preparation for the early stages of the implementation of Higher Still.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the contents of the Report and the appended letter from SOEID;

(ii) to authorise the Director of Education to apply to SOEID for a reduction in the 1998/99 school year for Angus secondary schools of 2 days to provide secondary teachers with additional time to prepare for Higher Still;

(iii) to approve, subject to the success of the application in (ii) above:-

(a) Thursday 10 June 1999 as one additional in-service closure day for secondary schools; and

(b) consultation with the JCC (Teachers) and with secondary head teachers on a proposal that Friday 11 June 1999 should also be an in-service closure day for secondary schools; and

(iv) to instruct the Director of Education to submit a progress report to the next meeting of the Education Committee.

13. "ACHIEVING SUCCESS IN S1/S2" - PROPOSALS FOR ACTION

There was submitted Report No 867/98 by the Director of Education advising that Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Schools (HMI) had recently published a report entitled "Achieving Success in S1/S2 - A Report on the Review of Provision in S1/S2" and setting out in an Appendix, proposals for addressing the findings of the report in secondary schools in Angus.

Having heard Mr McHardy on the need for consultation on the implications of the findings for teachers conditions and workloads, the Committee agreed:-

(i) to endorse the proposals for action set out in the Appendix to Report No 867/98;

(ii) to authorise the Director of Education to monitor the implementation of the proposals; and

(iii) to refer Report No 867/98 to the next meeting of JCC (Teachers) for its interest.

14. CLASS SIZES IN P1 TO P3

With reference to Article 11(b) of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 28 April 1998, there was submitted Report No 868/98 by the Director of Education informing of a recent Government announcement on reducing class sizes in P1 to P3, outlining the number of P1 to P3 classes with more than 30 pupils in Angus schools and recommending the allocation of additional teaching posts to reduce the number of such classes.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to authorise the Director of Education to write to the Secretary of State urging him to expedite the publication of the proposed strategy for permanently reducing class sizes in P1 to P3;

(ii) to authorise the appointment of one additional teacher in 1998/99 in each of 5 schools, specifically to reduce the number of classes in P1 to P3 in these schools which had more than 30 pupils; and

(iii) to note the expectation that these 5 additional teachers would be deployed so that 10 existing classes would enjoy a more favourable teacher:pupil ratio.

15. GUIDANCE ON ISSUES CONCERNING EXCLUSION FROM SCHOOL: SOEID CIRCULATION 2/98

With reference to Article 12 of the minute of meeting of the Social Work Committee of 18 August 1998, there was submitted Joint Report No 822/98 by the Director of Education and the Director of Social Work informing of a recent Government circular which provided guidance on exclusion procedures and setting out implications of this guidance for Angus Council.

The Committee agreed, for its interest:-

(i) to note the terms of Report No 822/98;

(ii) to authorise the revision of the existing Council guidelines for exclusion from school within the terms of Circular 2/98;

(iii) to confirm the efforts to safeguard the interests of those children who were looked after or accommodated by Angus Council in terms of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995;

(iv) to refer the Report to the JCC (Teaching Staff) for its interest; and

(v) to confirm the revised Council guidelines for exclusion from school on completion of the revision exercise referred to in (ii) above.

16. SCHOOL ATTENDANCE

With reference to Article 14 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 9 June 1998, there was submitted Report No 869/98 by the Director of Education setting out published statistics on attendance and absence in Scottish schools, commenting on the statistics and seeking support for proposals to combat truancy in schools, including the endorsement of target levels for school attendance as set out in the Report.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the contents of the Report and in particular the intention to run a seminar for staff later this year as outlined in paragraph 4.4;

(ii) to endorse the overall attendance targets of 96% for primary schools and 92% for secondary schools;

(iii) to authorise the Director of Education to liaise with head teachers and School Boards (mainly but not exclusively in secondary schools) about specific school attendance targets; and

(iv) to instruct the Director of Education to monitor the progress made in meeting the targets set out in the Report and to report back to this Committee from time to time as appropriate.

17. SCHOOL CAPACITIES/DELINEATED AREAS/PLACING REQUESTS

There was submitted Report No 870/98 by the Director of Education commenting on the changes in the patterns of school enrolments which had taken place over a period of years, highlighting current and possible future issues regarding school capacities and recommending consultation on ways of addressing these issues.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the intention of the Directors of Education and Property Services to bring forward, in the near future, a comprehensive Asset Management Plan, within which reference would be made to needs across Angus in terms of improving/upgrading/ extending/replacing school buildings;

(ii) to note specifically the current situation in Barry Primary School, together with the commitment to bring forward future reports on primary school accommodation in Carnoustie (in the context of the Asset Management Plan described in (i) above);

(iii) to authorise the Director of Education to undertake formal consultation with the School Board of Arbroath High School on a proposal that the school intake limit be altered to one of the following:-

- 198 pupils

- 200 pupils

- 220 pupils

- 231 pupils

(iv) to authorise informal discussions with interested parties, including the School Boards of affected schools, on the possibility of amending the delineated areas of each of the following schools (and any neighbouring schools which might be affected):-

- Inverbrothock Primary School

- Ladyloan Primary School

- Hayshead Primary School

- Arbroath High School

- Wellbrae Primary School

- Liff Primary School

- Maisondieu Primary School

- Monifieth High School

(v) to instruct the Director of Education to bring forward firm proposals for formal consultation on amended delineated areas if and when reasonable proposals emerged from the discussions referred to in (iv) above; and

(vi) to authorise formal consultation on the proposed guidelines for prioritising placing requests as outlined in the Appendix to the Report.

18. SCHOOL CONVEYANCE

(a) School Conveyance Contracts - Review of Contract Prices

With reference to Article 5 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 9 June 1998, there was submitted Joint Report No 871/98 by the Director of Education and the Director of Planning and Transport reminding the Committee that school conveyance contract prices were reviewed on an annual basis and recommending, for reasons outlined in the Report, a contract price increase of 4.72% for eligible contracts, effective from 3 July 1998.

The Committee agreed to approve the award of a 4.72% contract price increase for eligible contracts effective from 3 July 1998.

(b) Vetting of School Conveyance Contract Drivers and Escorts

With reference to Article 10 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 28 April 1998, there was submitted Joint Report No 872/98 by the Director of Education and the Director of Planning and Transport reviewing the vetting procedures in respect of drivers and escorts employed by companies which were contracted by the Council to undertake school conveyance contracts and recommending amendments to the current procedures.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to approve the revised vetting procedures outlined in Report No 872/98;

(ii) to delegate to the Director of Education the power to issue the appropriate pass where no convictions were intimated;

(iii) that, where an individual applicant did not have a taxi licence but had a record of criminal convictions, then the determination of an individual’s application should be delegated to the Special Cases Sub-Committee, with the applicant himself/herself invited to attend the Sub-Committee meeting accompanied (at the applicant’s discretion) by a friend or representative; and

(iv) to accept the passes issued to school transport drivers and escorts on behalf of Angus Council by Dundee City Council and Perth and Kinross Council.

19. CENTRAL GRANTS TO NATIONAL ORGANISATIONS - THE SCOTTISH COUNCIL FOR RESEARCH IN EDUCATION (SCRE)

With reference to Article 22 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 9 June 1998, there was submitted Report No 862/98 by the Director of Education recommending the award of financial assistance to SCRE for 1998/99.

The Committee agreed to approve a grant of £1,000 to the Scottish Council for Research in Education for 1998/99.

20. BRITISH FEDERATION OF YOUNG CHOIRS (BFYC) - PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT

There was submitted Report No 873/98 by the Director of Education informing members of an exciting new partnership between Angus Council and BFYC aimed at encouraging greater participation by young people in Angus in choral activities.

The Report concluded that the partnership provided a prestigious opportunity for Angus Council to encourage and support significant numbers of young people to participate in and benefit from choral work. It was expected that the project would be established for an initial period of two years.

The Committee agreed to note Report No 873/98 for its interest.