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Education Committee

MINUTE of MEETING of the EDUCATION COMMITTEE held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Tuesday 7 March 2000 at 4.00 pm.

Present: Councillors BRIAN MILNE, SHEENA WELSH, Provost Mrs FRANCES E DUNCAN OBE, Councillors JACK GIBB, GLENNIS MIDDLETON, ROBERT MYLES, GEORGE NORRIE MBE, HELEN OSWALD, KITTY RITCHIE and SANDY WEST and Mr PETER ANDREWS, Mr BRIAN McHARDY, Revered M CASSIDY and Reverend K GIBSON.

Apologies: Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Councillors DAVID LUMGAIR, STEWART McGLYNN and PETER NIELD and Reverend CARLEEN ROBERTSON.

Councillor MILNE, Convener, in the Chair

1. MINUTES

(a) Previous Meeting

The minute of meeting of this Committee of 25 January 2000 was approved as a correct record and signed by the Convener.

(b) Joint Consultative Committee (Teachers)

The minute of meeting of the Joint Consultative Committee (Teachers) of 9 February 2000, a copy of which is appended hereto, was submitted and noted (APPENDIX I).

(c) 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 Staffing Committee as set out in the minute, a copy of which is appended hereto.

(d) Special Cases Sub-Committee

The Director of Law and Administration reported on the meeting of the Special Cases Sub-Committee held earlier this day. The Committee noted the decision of the Sub-Committee as set out in the minute, a copy of which is appended hereto.

2. REVIEW OF CHARGES 2000/2001

With reference to Article 4 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 9 March 1999, there was submitted Report No 254/00 by the Director of Education recommending increases in charges in respect of the financial year 2000/2001 for services provided by the Education Department in relation to letting of educational premises, music tuition fees and school meals. It had been estimated that the increased charges would generate an additional £45,000 which had been incorporated within the Education Department 2000/2001 Revenue Budget as agreed at the special meeting held on 17 February 2000.

The Committee agreed to approve the increased charges outlined in the Report.

3. INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION EQUIPMENT FOR SCHOOLS 2000/2001

With reference to Article 15 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 25 January 2000, there was submitted Joint Report No 255/00 by the Director of Education and the Director of Information Technology indicating that the Education and IT Departments were committed to improving Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Equipment within both primary and secondary schools to ensure that they were provided with excellent ICT infrastructure for educational purposes. The Report outlined the present position in respect of ICT hardware and network provision in primary and secondary schools and set out proposals for further investment in the financial year 2000/2001.

The Committee for its interest, agreed to approve the contents of the Report and authorise the issue of tender documents for the purchase of computers for secondary schools.

4. RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF PUPILS AND PARENTS

With reference to Article 9 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 25 January 2000, there was submitted Report No 256/00 by the Director of Education suggesting that consultation be held with parents and pupils on the content of a draft statement of rights and responsibilities of pupils and parents and recommending that further consideration of the outcome of the consultation be remitted to the Joint Consultative Committee (Teachers) with a view to preparing a finalised statement which the Council might eventually wish to endorse.

Following discussion, the Committee agreed:-

  1. to endorse, in principle, the draft statement set out in Appendix 1 to the Report, subject to it being amended to include encouragement to parents to take appropriate responsibility for their children on the daily journey to and from school;
  2. to authorise consultation on the contents of the statement with School Boards and other parental representatives;
  3. to encourage comment on the contents of the statement from children and young people ­ via pupil councils (or similar representative pupil bodies) in individual schools and via the Angus Youth Congress and the eight locally based Youth Councils;
  4. to remit to the JCC (Teachers) the task of considering responses to the above consultation exercises and of preparing a finalised statement based on that consideration; and
  5. to instruct the Director of Education to report back to the Committee on the outcome of the above process in due course.

5. SCHOOL CLOTHING GRANTS AND THE INTRODUCTION OF WORKING FAMILIES TAX CREDIT

There was submitted Report No 257/00 by the Director of Education advising that the government had introduced a new benefit entitled Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC), to replace Family Credit with effect from 5 October 1999. This new benefit was more generous than Family Credit and many people who were not entitled to Family Credit had become entitled to WFTC. The Report described the impact of the introduction of WFTC on the Council's arrangements for awarding School Clothing Grants and set out three possible approaches to amending the criteria for determining eligibility for School Clothing Grants. It was recommended that the Council adopt Option 2 as set out in Section 4.2 of the Report.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to approve the following amended criteria for a family's eligibility to receive a School Clothing Grant:-
    • receipt of Job Seekers Allowance (Income Based), or
    • receipt of Income Support, or
    • receipt of either the maximum amount of WFTC or receipt of WFTC reduced by no more than £70 per week.

    (This criterion to be amended as and when the Inland Revenue amended current arrangements to the contents of the standard WFTC Award letter to identify clearly entitlement to free NHS prescriptions ­ such entitlement would also then automatically trigger entitlement to Clothing Grants for WFTC recipients);

  2. to note that the above proposal was intended to ensure that (broadly speaking) the income levels which currently entitled families to Clothing Grants should continue to bear that entitlement; and
  3. to instruct the Director of Education to monitor the proposed arrangements for awarding School Clothing Grants and to report back to the Committee should these arrangements require any further consideration in the light of experience.

6. SCHOOL TERMS AND HOLIDAYS 2001/2002: PROPOSALS FOR CONSULTATION

With reference to Article 5 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 20 April 1999, there was submitted Report No 264/00 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 a statutory power, having consulted with the education authority, to fix occasional holidays during school terms. The Report set out proposals for school terms and holidays for 2001/2002 and recommended that these proposed dates should form the basis of a consultation exercise.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to approve the draft scheme of school terms and holidays for 2001/2002 appended to the Report as a basis for consultation;
  2. 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;
  3. to instruct the Director of Education to bring the draft scheme to the attention of the Directors of Education in neighbouring Councils (Dundee City, Perth & Kinross and Aberdeenshire), and to invite comments from them;
  4. to seek the views of the Council's Central Consultative Committee on the draft scheme;
  5. to instruct the Director of Education to report back to the Education Committee on the outcome of the above consultation later this year; and
  6. to instruct the Director of Education to share the contents of this Report with the Scottish Executive.

7. PRIMARY SCHOOLS ­ AMENDMENTS TO SCHOOL CAPACITIES AND INTAKE LIMITS

With reference to Article 6 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 21 January 1997, there was submitted Report No 258/00 by the Director of Education drawing the Committee's attention to Regulations designed to ensure that class sizes in P1 to P3 were not allowed to rise above 30 pupils. The Report described the impact of these Regulations on the pupil capacities of all large and medium sized primary schools in Angus and recommended that amendments to these school capacities and intake limits be considered.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the contents of the Report and the contents of the Education (Lower Primary Class Sizes) (Scotland) Regulations 1999, a copy of which had been placed in the Members' Lounge;
  2. to approve the proposed school capacities and intake limits for 26 primary schools as the basis for consultation with School Boards, the schools affected being listed in an Appendix to the Report together with the proposed amendments to the school capacity and intake limit of each school;
  3. to note that all School Boards affected had been alerted to this issue and that their comments had been sought on the draft proposals summarised in the Appendix; and
  4. to instruct the Director of Education to report back to this Committee on the outcome of the consultation with School Boards as soon as possible.

8. EXCELLENCE FUND FOR SCHOOLS

(a) 2000/2001

With reference to Article 7(a) of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 26 January 1999, there was submitted Report No 259/00 by the Director of Education drawing the Committee' s attention to improvement plans submitted to the Scottish Executive for seven of the ten programmes of the Excellence Fund in 2000/2001. The Scottish Executive had sought updated proposals for six previous programmes which had been given an uplift in funding, and one new programme, namely, Social Inclusion.

Improvement plans (copies of which were appended to the Report) had been submitted to the Scottish Executive in order to comply with this timescale. No updated plans had been sought for three of the programmes and the improvement plans for these aspects of the Excellence Fund were being maintained on a similar basis to arrangements for 1999/2000.

The Committee agreed to note the contents of the Report and the improvement plans submitted to the Scottish Executive.

(b) Establishment of Additional Non-Teaching Posts in Secondary Schools

With reference to Article 8 (a) above, there was submitted Joint Report No 260/00 by the Director of Education and the Director of Personnel advising that the Study Support and National Grid for Learning core programmes of the Excellence Fund would benefit from additional staffing resources. Many study support programme activities relied on the availability of modern library facilities (including information computer technology (ICT)). Currently, each Angus secondary school had one post of school librarian within its staffing establishment and there would be much merit in augmenting this resource within each school library by the appointment of an additional member of staff.

The rapid expansion of ICT was leading to increasing pressure on schools to ensure that routine procedures relating to software and hardware were undertaken timeously. Much of the more sophisticated maintenance was being undertaken by the recently created Education ICT Team. The present technician service in secondary schools also covered a range of support to different practical subjects. It was envisaged that this situation be maintained but there was also a need for some additional technician support. Accordingly, the Report recommended the appointment of additional library assistants and school technicians to all Angus secondary schools.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed to note and approve the contents of the Report.

9. CRITERIA FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF SCHOOL CROSSING PATROLS

With reference to Article 8 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 9 March 1999, there was submitted Joint Report No 261/00 by the Director of Roads and the Director of Education, which examined the national criteria for determining whether or not a School Crossing Patrol would be justified, considered their fitness for application at existing school crossing patrol sites within Angus, and recommended the adoption of a less stringent standard (50% of the national standard) for the assessment of the need for the provision of school crossing patrols in Angus. The Report also detailed proposals for rationalisation of working hours for School Crossing Patrollers to remove anomalies inherited from Tayside Regional Council and to reflect the recent rationalisation of school hours in Angus.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to the use of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and the Local Authority Road Safety Officers Association (LARSOA) Criteria for assessing any future requests for school crossing patrol sites within Angus but with threshold values reduced to 50% of the guideline criteria, (i.e. a less stringent requirement than that of the National Standard);
  2. to note the findings of the surveys carried out at the existing sites which indicated that a number of existing school crossing patrols did not meet the proposed Angus criteria;
  3. to investigate the following options where existing school crossing patrols were not justified in terms of the Angus criteria:-
    1. the removal of the school crossing patrollers from light controlled ("red and green man") crossings to be implemented in conjunction with a training programme for schoolchildren to be provided by Tayside Police;
    2. re-deployment of school crossing patrollers to new sites which met the Angus criteria or to alternative duties (e.g. "a walking bus") where these were feasible;
    3. the provision of physical traffic safety/road improvement measures to allow a reduction in the number of school crossing patrollers in the medium term; and
    4. the retention of existing school crossing patrollers at other sites which did not meet the Angus criteria with a view to not replacing those patrollers when the posts became vacant due to natural employee turnover in the longer term; and
  4. to note the proposed rationalisation of working hours for school crossing patrollers.

10. PROPOSED MEETING WITH SCHOOL BOARD/PARENTAL REPRESENTATIVES

The Committee noted that meetings had been arranged with representatives of School Boards, to which all members were invited, which would take place at 7.30 pm at Forfar Academy on Tuesday 9 May 2000 and Arbroath Library on Wednesday 10 May 2000.

11. ANGUS BOOK AWARD

With reference to Article 14 of the minute of meeting of the Recreation and Cultural Services Committee on 2 March 2000, there was submitted Joint Report No 240/00 by the Acting Director of Cultural Services and the Director of Education detailing the continued development and success of the Angus Book Award which had been launched in 1996 and the proposed arrangements for the Award in 2000.

The Report also indicated that this year’s Award had been officially launched by the Conveners of the Recreation and Cultural Services and Education Committees on 17 January 2000 in Arbroath Library. The Award Ceremony would take place on Tuesday 28 March 2000 in Forfar Academy with the authors of the short-listed titles, participating pupils, teachers and representatives of the wider school community, and members and officers of the Council being invited.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed to note the contents of the Report.

12. CURRICULUM DESIGN AND REVIEW IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS

With reference to Article 15(a) of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 24 November 1998, there was submitted Report No 279/00 by the Director of Education describing current activity in relation to the review of curriculum structures in Angus. The Report sought the Committee's approval of proposals to support and co-ordinate curriculum reviews through the Educational Development Service and recommended the establishment of an additional Education Development Officer post. This post would require to be filled by an experienced teacher with a proven track record in curriculum development and design.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the terms of the Report; and
  2. to approve the establishment of an additional post of Education Development Officer.

13. GUIDANCE ­ DRAFT POLICY STATEMENT

With reference to Article 8 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 15 October 1996, there was submitted Report No 263/00 by the Director of Education seeking approval of a draft statement on Guidance and Pastoral Care which had been produced by the Guidance Steering Group, a copy of which was appended to the Report. The Report referred to the relevance of the statement to the work of the Guidance Steering Group on the overarching Education for Work policy framework as set out in Article 14 below and recommended that it be issued to all secondary schools in Angus.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to approve the draft Guidance Policy Statement and authorise the Director of Education to issue it to schools for implementation; and
  2. to note the national and local arrangements now in place to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of provision in respect of guidance and pastoral care in schools.

14. EDUCATION FOR WORK

With reference to Article 13 above, there was submitted Report No 262/00 by the Director of Education seeking the Committee's endorsement of an "Education for Work" policy.

The Report indicated that, for some time, staff had been preparing a draft Council policy on Education for Work. An early draft of the proposed policy had been used for consultation and, on the basis of comments received, minor revisions had been made. The detailed operational issues covered by Education for Work included Careers Education and Education Industry Links. The Committee was reminded that it had approved a Careers Education Policy Statement on 24 August 1999, and had noted that it should be seen as one strand in the emerging Education for Work policy framework.

The Committee agreed to approve the proposed policy on Education for Work appended to the Report.

15. THE FUTURE USE OF FAIRLIE HOUSE

With reference to Article 9 of the minute of meeting of the Social Work Committee of 29 February 2000, there was submitted Report 252/00 by the Director of Property Services outlining the proposed future use of Fairlie House, Kirriemuir and the provisional terms of an agreed sale of part of the property to Angus College.

The Report concluded that the proposed use of Fairlie House, as outlined in the Report, met the operational requirements of the Social Work and Community Education Services to be provided in Kirriemuir and supported the working partnership between Angus College and Angus Council. The co-location of all these services would bring benefits to each of the parties and secure this property resource within Kirriemuir for the foreseeable future.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the contents of the Report;
  2. to approve the provisional agreement between Angus Council and Angus College in relation to the proposed sale of part of the property to the College for their use; and
  3. to note that the details of the transaction between Angus Council and Angus College would be reported to the Personnel and Property Services Committee on 14 March 2000.
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