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ANGUS COUNCIL

MINUTE of MEETING of the EDUCATION COMMITTEE held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Tuesday 28 April 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 Mrs RENATE LAMONT, STEWART McGLYNN, GLENNIS MIDDLETON, GEORGE NORRIE, SHEENA WELSH and SANDY WEST; Ms M KINGSTON, Mr PETER ANDREWS and Mr BRIAN McHARDY.

Apologies: Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Councillors JACK GIBB and RICHARD SPEIRS; Rev M CASSIDAY 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, paragraph 1.

2. REVIEW OF THE EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT SERVICE

With reference to Article 15 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 27 April 1997, there was submitted Joint Report No 418/98 by the Director of Education and the Director of Personnel (a) recommending a change of title of the Educational Support Service to the School and Family Support Service, (b) explaining the rationale for the change, (c) proposing changes to titles and grades of the posts within the service to meet the more extensive and more specialised nature of the work of the service and (d) setting out the financial implications.

The Committee agreed:-

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

(ii) to approve the change of title of the service currently known as the Educational Support Service to the School and Family Support Service; and

(iii) to refer the recommendations in Section 1.2 of Report No 418/98 to the Personnel and Property Services Committee.

3. MINUTE OF PREVIOUS MEETING

The minute of meeting of this Committee of 10 March 1998 was approved as a correct record and signed by the Convener.

4. MINUTE OF MEETING OF 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 I), which was noted.

5. EDUCATION DEPARTMENT DEVELOPMENT PLAN 1998/99

With reference to Article 10 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 3 June 1997, there was submitted Report No 419/98 by the Director of Education advising the Committee of the outcome of the recent consultation exercise in relation to the draft Education Department Development Plan for 1998/99.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the terms of Report No 419/98;

(ii) to note that the considerable progress made in relation to development priorities set out in the 1997/98 Development Plan was the subject of a comprehensive position statement within the draft 1998/99 Development Plan;

(iii) to authorise the Director of Education to issue the 1998/99 draft Development Plan for consultation to all schools, services and School Boards; and

(iv) to instruct the Director of Education to report back to the Committee on the outcomes of the consultative exercise.

6. SCHOOL TERMS AND HOLIDAYS 1999/2000 - PROPOSALS FOR CONSULTATION

There was submitted Report No 420/98 by the Director of Education advising that the education authority had a duty each year to fix the term and holiday dates for the subsequent school year and that School Boards had, having consulted with the education authority, a statutory power to fix occasional holidays during school terms. In this connection, there was submitted a letter from SOEID encouraging education authorities to secure a consistent approach. The Report set out proposals for school terms and holidays for 1999/2000 and recommended that these proposed dates should form the basis of a consultation exercise.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to approve the draft scheme of school terms and holidays for 1999/2000 appended to Report No 420/98 as a basis for consultation;

(ii) to instruct the Director of Education to seek the views of staff, trade unions, teachers’ associations, head teachers and School Boards on the draft scheme;

(iii) to instruct the Director of Education to bring the draft scheme to the attention of Directors of Education in neighbouring Councils (Dundee City, Perth and Kinross and Aberdeenshire), and to invite comments from them;

(iv) to seek the views of the Council's Central Consultative Committee on the draft scheme; and

(v) to instruct the Director of Education to report back to the Education Committee on the outcome of the above consultation later this year.

7. PROVISION FOR PUPILS WITH SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS

There was submitted Report No 421/98 by the Director of Education setting out the background of the various issues to be addressed in relation to special educational needs provision in Angus and recommending (a) approval of the establishment of specialist facilities in two additional schools; and (b) support, in principle, for continuing efforts to rationalise existing provision.

Having heard Councillor Middleton welcome the proposed provision at Langlands Primary School, the Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the contents of Report No 421/98 for its interest;

(ii) to approve the establishment of specialist provision in Muirfield Primary School, Arbroath for pre-five year olds identified as likely to experience long-term learning difficulties;

(iii) to approve the establishment of specialist provision in Langlands Primary School, Forfar for a small number of primary children who were diagnosed as autistic or as having an autistic spectrum disorder;

(iv) to instruct the Director of Education to continue to search for appropriate solutions to the challenges posed by the increasing number of pupils being diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD);

(v) to confirm support, in principle, for efforts to rationalise existing provision so that as many children as possible could be educated in an Angus burgh school in reasonably close proximity to their homes; and

(vi) to refer Report No 421/98 to the JCC (Teaching Staff) for its interest.

8. PRE-FIVES EDUCATION 1998-99

With reference to Articles 5 and 6 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 27 January 1998, there was submitted Report No 422/98 by the Director of Education detailing recent government announcements on pre-fives education, setting out the implications for education authorities and seeking the approval of the Committee for specific proposals on the provision of pre-fives education by Angus Council for 1998/99.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the contents of Report No 422/98 for its interest;

(ii) to approve the establishment of a 30 place (mornings only) nursery operating initially in the premises of the Music Centre (Forfar) but managed otherwise as an integral part of Wellbrae Primary School, Forfar;

(iii) to authorise the Director of Education to negotiate partnership agreements in principle with playgroups (or other providers) in rural areas, and to report back to the Committee on the outcome of these negotiations as soon as it was possible to do so;

(iv) to authorise the Director of Education to enter into preliminary discussions with other nursery providers in the Council’s burghs (with a view to possible partnership agreements being negotiated thereafter), and to report back to this Committee on the outcome of these preliminary discussions as soon as possible;

(v) to establish a permanent post of Education Development Officer (Pre-Fives) at a salary equivalent of a Principal Teacher (Secondary School roll 1300+) and to authorise the Director of Education to put in hand the normal recruitment procedures to fill the post as soon as possible; and

(vi) to refer Report No 422/98 to the Personnel and Property Committee for its interest.

9. SCHOOL SECURITY

With reference to Article 8 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 26 August 1997, there was submitted Report No 423/98 by the Director of Education (a) outlining the progress made in implementing the Council’s schools security policy in the financial year 1997/98 in light of recommendations in the Cullen Report and (b) proposing security improvements for financial year 1998/99.

The proposals for 1998/99 included a review of the 1997/98 measures; access control; exterior lighting; fencing; communications and CCTV. The sum of £292,000 had been built into the 1998/99 revenue budget to meet the cost of the work, which it was hoped would be offset by specific grant of £219,000 as in 1997/98.

Having heard Councillor Mrs Ritchie welcome the security measures, the Committee agreed to note the contents of Report No 423/98 for its interest.

10. THE VETTING AND SUPERVISION OF ADULTS WORKING WITH CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE

There was submitted Joint Report No 408/98 by the Directors of Social Work, Recreation Services, Cultural Services, Education and Personnel making recommendations for vetting procedures for staff and volunteers working for Angus Council who had substantial access to children and young people.

The Committee agreed to note and approve for its interest the contents of Report No 408/98 and the recommendations set out in item 10 of the minute of meeting of the Social Work Committee of 21 April 1998.

11. SOEID INITIATIVES

(a) "Raising Standards - Setting Targets"

With reference to Article 2 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 25 November 1997, there was submitted Report No 427/98 by the Director of Education commenting on a recently issued set of provisional SOEID targets for attainment levels in secondary schools. The Report advised that the education authority had been asked to consider each target (seven so far for each secondary school) and to confirm to SOEID final targets by 5 June 1998. The timescale for this was extremely short and, whilst it was proposed that every effort be made to comply with the SOEID timescale, the formal response from Angus Council to SOEID would be provisional and subject to approval of the Education Committee at its meeting on 10 June 1998.

The Committee agreed to note the terms of Report No 427/98.

(b) Budget 1998 - Money for Schools

There was submitted Report No 428/98 by the Director of Education advising of an additional budget allocation amounting to £19m for Scottish schools in 1998/99 (as outlined in a letter from SOEID attached to the Report) and recommending that the Director of Education should examine the implications for Angus Council of the increased allocation.

Mr Andrews sought an assurance that class numbers in Angus would remain below 30. Councillor Milne confirmed that, at present, no classes were above this limit, and that there were no plans to change this.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the contents of the SOIED letter of 8 April 1998 appended to Report No 428/98 on additional money for Scottish Schools in 1998/99;

(ii) to instruct the Director of Education to prepare a Report for this Committee outlining proposals for Angus for the additional expenditure described;

(iii) to note, in particular, that four Angus schools were participating as NGFL (National Grid for Learning) pilot schools as set out in paragraph 9 of the letter; and

(iv) to approve, in principle, participation of Angus Council in the proposed pilot project on classroom assistants as set out in paragraph 10 of the letter.

(c) "Parents as Partners"

There was submitted Report No 424/98 by the Director of Education (a) advising that earlier this year, SOEID had issued a consultation document entitled "Parents as Partners: Enhancing the Role of Parents in School Education", (b) setting out a draft response which had been shared with School Boards, and (c) proposing that the response be forwarded to SOEID.

Having heard Councillors West and Ritchie and Mr Andrews in support of the proposed response, the Committee agreed to approve the paper attached to Report No 424/98 as a response to the SOEID consultation paper "Parents as Partners".

(d) Education for Work - Work Experience in Scotland

With reference to Article 7 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 26 November 1996, there was submitted Report No 425/98 by the Director of Education (a) advising that following the conclusion of TVEI funding and the loss of associated management and guidance posts, it had become more difficult to sustain the high level of pupil participation in work experience projects, (b) indicating that current arrangements in Angus were supporting schools in ensuring that all pupils obtained an appropriate work-related activity prior to leaving school and (c) setting out a response to an SOIED consultation document on work experience, taking account of detailed preparatory work undertaken by the EIL (Education Industry Links) Project Officer in liaison with individual Secondary Head Teachers and EIL School Co-ordinators.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the terms of the SOIED consultation document;

(ii) to note and approve the terms of the response to the consultation document (Appendix 2 to Report No 425/98); and

(iii) to authorise the Director of Education to send the response to Scottish CCC who were co-ordinating the exercise on behalf of SOEID.