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Education Committee

MINUTE of MEETING of the EDUCATION COMMITTEE held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Tuesday 25 January 2000 at 4.00 pm.

Present: Councillors BRIAN MILNE, SHEENA WELSH, JACK GIBB, DAVID LUMGAIR, GLENNIS MIDDLETON, ROBERT MYLES, PETER NIELD, GEORGE NORRIE, HELEN OSWALD and SANDY WEST and Mr PETER ANDREWS.

Apologies: Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Provost Mrs FRANCES E DUNCAN OBE, Councillors STEWART McGLYNN and KITTY RITCHIE; and Reverend MARK CASSIDY, Reverend CARLEEN ROBERTSON Reverend KENNETH GIBSON and Mr BRIAN McHARDY.

Councillor MILNE, Convener, in the Chair

Prior to the commencement of business, the Convener welcomed Councillor Helen Oswald to her first meeting of the Education Committee.

The following matter was, on the determination of the Convener, dealt with as a matter of urgency in view of the need to respond timeously to the Scottish Executive.

1. STANDARDS IN PUBLIC LIFE ­ THE SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE’S PROPOSALS

There was submitted Joint Report No 158/00 by the Chief Executive, the Director of Law and Administration and the Director of Education seeking agreement to the terms of a Council response to the consultation paper by the Scottish Executive entitled "Standards in Public Life". In this connection, there were also submitted an extract from the document on the Repeal of Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1986, and a letter from the Scottish Parent Teacher Council.

The Convener indicated that on balance, he supported the proposal to repeal this particular piece of legislation and he very much regretted the alarming publicity of recent weeks. He emphasised that the Council had every confidence in the integrity and good sense of its staff; if repeal of Section 28 led to a need to review existing guidelines for staff then he would be happy to support that process. However, parents in Angus should rest assured that the Council would continue to act responsibly and in the best interest of pupils. The Report would be submitted to the Policy and Resources Committee at its next meeting to be held on 8 February 2000.

The Committee agreed that if, after due consideration, any members wished to bring their views to the attention of the Policy and Resources Committee, they should contact the Director of Law and Administration prior to 8 February 2000 and that copies of the Report be forwarded to the Church representatives.

2. MINUTES

(a) Previous Meeting

The minute of meeting of this Committee of 23 November 1999 was approved as a correct record and signed by the Convener.

(b) Staffing Sub-Committee

The minute of meeting of the Staffing Sub-Committee of 13 December 1999, a copy of which is appended hereto, was submitted and noted (APPENDIX I).

(c) Joint Consultative Committee (Teachers)

The minute of meeting of the Joint Consultative Committee (Teachers) of 13 December 1999, a copy of which is appended hereto, was submitted and noted. (APPENDIX II).

(d) Staffing Sub-Committee

The Director of Law and Administration reported on the meeting of the Staffing Sub-Committee held earlier this day. The Committee noted the decisions of the Sub-Committee as set out in the minute, a copy of which is appended hereto, (APPENDIX III).

3. QUEEN’S NEW YEAR’S HONOURS LIST

The Convener advised that Provost Mrs Frances E Duncan had been awarded an OBE and that Mrs Kathleen Stewart, the Head Teacher of Barry Primary School, had been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.

The Committee congratulated Provost Mrs Frances E Duncan and Mrs Kathleen Stewart on their awards.

4. EDUCATION APPEAL COMMITTEE ­ APPOINTMENT OF CHAIRPERSON

With reference to Article 9(a) of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 9 June 1998, there was submitted Report No 79/00 by the Director of Law and Administration recommending that the Committee approve the appointment of a fourth person to chair hearings of the Education Appeal Committee.

The Committee agreed to approve the appointment of Mr Peter Clunie, being a person who, in the opinion of the authority, had experience of education and was acquainted with educational conditions in the area of the authority, to chair hearings of the Education Appeal Committee established in terms of Section 28D(1) of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980.

5. BEST VALUE SERVICE REVIEW ­ SCHOOL TRANSPORT

There was submitted Report No 80/00 by the Director of Education advising the Committee of the key findings of the Best Value Service Review of school transport and recommending the implementation of the Service Improvement Plan as agreed by the Review Team. A survey of parents and pupils indicated a generally high level of satisfaction with all aspects of the service. Angus Council appeared to have taken more steps to address safety issues than several other Councils and value for money was being achieved relatively well. However, specific issues which required further consideration were highlighted in the Service Improvement Plan.

The attention of members was drawn to the cut in Grant Aided Expenditure (GAE) for School Transport which the Council was due to have imposed on it for 2000/2001. It was understood that the Scottish Executive had decided to adopt a different methodology for assessing GAE for School Transport which would benefit urban authorities at the expense of rural authorities. It was therefore proposed that the Director of Finance should raise concerns about this matter with the Scottish Executive.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the terms of the Report and the contents of the Best Value Service Review on school transport;
  2. to approve the proposed Improvement Plan set out in the Appendix to the Report; and
  3. to authorise the Director of Finance to alert the Scottish Executive to the swingeing cut planned for Angus Council’s GAE for School Transport in future and to the very deep concerns that cut would cause in a rural area such as Angus; and
  4. to refer the Report to the Planning and Transport Policy Committee for its interest.

6. THE McCRONE COMMITTEE

There was submitted Report No 81/00 by the Director of Education advising the Committee that in October 1999, the Scottish Executive set up a Committee to look into the current pay structure and conditions of service of Scotland’s teachers. The Committee was chaired by Professor Gavin McCrone, a visiting Professor in the Edinburgh University Management School. The remit of the McCrone Committee was to inquire widely into professional conditions of service for teachers which would secure high and improving standards of education for all children in Scotland into the new Millennium, and the future arrangements for determining teachers' pay and conditions, in light of the proposed removal of the statutory basis of the Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee (School Education).

Comments on a leaflet produced by the McCrone Committee were sought by 11 February 2000 and Angus Council’s proposed response was outlined in an Appendix to the Report.

After discussion, the Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the terms of reference of the McCrone Committee as detailed in the Report; and
  2. to authorise the Director of Education to forward the Appendix to the Report to the McCrone Committee as Angus Council’s response.

7. MODERN LANGUAGES: CONSULTATION RESPONSES TO (i) SCOTTISH CCC REVISED 5-14 GUIDELINES (ii) SCOTTISH QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY (SQA) REVISED ARRANGEMENTS FOR STANDARD GRADE

With reference to Article 4 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 19 October 1999, there was submitted Report No 82/00 by the Director of Education advising that, following the publication of the HMI Report in October 1998, the Education Minister had set out a detailed strategy to address perceived weaknesses in the learning and teaching of modern languages in Scottish schools. The major elements of this strategy included the establishment of a Ministerial Action Group; a review of guidelines to be undertaken by a Scottish CCC Review and Development Group; and revision by SQA of arrangements for Standard Grade Modern Languages in and after 2002.

The Report set out the key observations arising from consultation within Angus on (i) Scottish CCC revised 5-14 Guidelines on Modern Languages and (ii) SQA revised arrangements for Standard Grade Modern Languages and appended the officer responses to the Scottish CCC and SQA.

The Committee agreed to note and endorse the terms of the officer responses (set out in Appendices 1 and 2 to the Report) which had to be sent to Scottish CCC and SQA in order to comply with the submission deadlines of 17 December 1999 and 18 January 2000 respectively.

8. SCOTS LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

With reference to Article 9 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 8 June 1999, there was submitted Report No 83/00 by the Director of Education reminding the Committee that a consultation exercise had recently been undertaken on the draft policy on Scots Language and Culture, providing feedback on the results of the consultation exercise and recommending adoption of the finalised version of the policy appended to the Report.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the generally positive results of the survey recently undertaken, a copy of the questionnaire and detailed analysis of the results having been placed in the Members’ Lounge;
  2. to endorse the finalised policy statement and guidelines (set out in Appendices 1 and 2 of the Report); and
  3. to reaffirm its intention that the policy statement and guidelines should be interpreted by staff as supportive documents which offered a helpful and reasonably flexible framework aimed at nurturing Scots Language and Culture.

9. TOWARDS A SHARED VISION

With reference to Article 6 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 9 March 1999, there was submitted Report No 85/00 by the Director of Education describing progress to date in developing a shared vision for the future of the education service in Angus.

A widely based consultation exercise had been carried out in which four separate groups of key stakeholders had been invited to consider a discussion paper which set out a proposed shared vision statement. The deliberations of the groups had been distilled into a broad overarching statement which attempted to encapsulate the core values and aims of the education service in Angus, and a series of critical success factors, all as detailed in the Appendices to the Report. Copies had been issued to all Schools, School Boards, Trade Unions and Curricular Advisory Groups for further consultation.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the steps taken in recent months to develop an updated vision for the education service in Angus, that vision being shared by all key stakeholders; and
  2. to note, in particular, the draft overarching statement and draft critical success factors (set out in Appendices I and 2 to the Report) on which wider consultation had been initiated.

10. WORK EXPERIENCE ­ HEALTH AND SAFETY REQUIREMENTS

With reference to Article 8 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 15 October 1996, there was submitted Joint Report No 96/00 by the Director of Education and the Director of Personnel outlining some of the Health and Safety requirements relating to Work Experience. For several years now, work experience had formed an integral part of the school experience of secondary school pupils. However, thorough Health and Safety Risk Assessments required to be undertaken on any premises within which pupils could be located during a work experience placement. The Report indicated that the volume of work involved in risk assessment justified the appointment of a permanent member of staff on a part-time basis and recommended the establishment of an additional part-time post of Training Assistant to carry out this work.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed:-

  1. to note and approve the contents of the Report; and
  2. to refer the Report to the Personnel and Property Services Committee.

11. PLANNING EARLY EDUCATION AND CHILDCARE ­ REVISED GUIDANCE TO PARTNERSHIPS

With reference to Article 2 of the minute of meeting of the Social Work Committee of 18 January 2000, there was submitted Joint Report No 47/00 by the Director of Social Work and the Director of Education advising the Committee of the revised guidance to Childcare Partnerships on the planning of Early Education and Childcare issued by the Scottish Executive in December 1999.

The Report indicated that the focus of the revised guidance was to assist Childcare Partnerships to update and roll forward their Early Education and Childcare Plans to cover the period 2000 – 2003 for which completed plans had to be sent to the Scottish Executive by the end of April 2000. The cost of the proposals contained within the Report could be met entirely from the specific financial resources provided by the Scottish Executive.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed:-

  1. to note the contents of the Report; and
  2. to instruct the Director of Social Work and the Director of Education to bring a final copy of the Childcare Plan 2000 ­ 2003 to the Education Committee and the Social Work Committee in April 2000.

12. TAYSIDE SPORTS DEVELOPMENT GROUP ­ ANNUAL REPORT 1998/99

With reference to Article 4 of the minute of meeting of the Recreation and Cultural Services Committee of 20 January 2000, there was submitted Joint Report No 59/00 by the Director of Recreation Services and the Director of Education providing members with an update on the activities of the Tayside Sports Development Group, together with the Group’s Annual Report for 1998/99.

The Convener referred to a presentation which was given at the Recreation and Cultural Services Committee by Alistair Wilson, Head of Leisure, in which he had confirmed that £15,000 had been made available to assist with the establishment of an accommodation base for an Area Manager in Dundee University.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed:-

  1. to note the Tayside Sports Development Group Annual Report 1998/99;
  2. (ii) to note the continuing success of the Tayside partnership; and
  3. to note the progress being made towards the establishment of the Consortium for the Area Institute of Sport in Tayside.

13. COMMUNITY EDUCATION SERVICE ­ REVENUE GRANTS TO VOLUNTARY ORGANISATIONS 1999/2000

Councillor Oswald declared an interest in the following item, being a member of the Management Committee of Carnoustie Youth Project.

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 84/00 by the Director of Education detailing the applications received from local voluntary organisations for Revenue Grants over £500 and making recommendations regarding the awards.

Having heard various members welcome the awards, the Committee agreed to approve the award of Revenue Grants totalling £8,950 as detailed in Appendix 1 to the Report.

14. EXCLUSION OF PUBLIC AND PRESS

The Committee resolved, in terms of Standing Order 27(2), that the public and press be excluded during consideration of the following item 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 6, 8 and 9.

15. PROCUREMENT OF ICT EQUIPMENT FOR PRIMARY SCHOOLS

With reference to Article 13(b) of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 8 June 1999, there was submitted Joint Report No 78/00 by the Director of Education and the Director of Information Technology outlining the tender process for the purchase of ICT equipment for Primary Schools and seeking approval for the method of procurement.

The Committee for its interest, agreed:-

  1. to approve the procurement of the computer equipment detailed in Report 78/00 from RM plc as an extension to the existing contract; and
  2. to authorise the Director of Information Technology and the Director of Education, in consultation with the Director of Finance, to negotiate with RM plc the most advantageous arrangement for the Council.
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