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Education Committee

MINUTE of MEETING of the EDUCATION COMMITTEE held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Tuesday 6 June 2000 at 4.00 pm.

Present: Councillors BRIAN MILNE, SHEENA WELSH, DAVID LUMGAIR, STEWART McGLYNN, GLENNIS MIDDLETON, ROBERT MYLES, PETER NIELD, GEORGE NORRIE MBE, HELEN OSWALD, KITTY RITCHIE and SANDY WEST and Mr PETER ANDREWS, Mr BRIAN McHARDY, Rev CARLEEN ROBERTSON and Rev KENNETH GIBSON.

Apologies: Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Provost Mrs FRANCES E DUNCAN OBE, Councillors JACK GIBB, and Rev MARK CASSIDY.

Councillor MILNE, Convener, in the Chair

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

Present: Councillors BRIAN MILNE and SHEENA WELSH, Provost Mrs FRANCES E DUNCAN OBE, Councillors JACK GIBB, DAVID LUMGAIR, STEWART McGLYNN, ROBERT MYLES, PETER NIELD, GEORGE NORRIE MBE, HELEN OSWALD, KITTY RITCHIE and SANDY WEST and Mr PETER ANDREWS, Mr BRIAN McHARDY and Rev MARK CASSIDY.

Apologies: Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Councillor GLENNIS MIDDLETON, Rev CARLEEN ROBERTSON and Rev KENNETH GIBSON.

Councillor MILNE, Convener, in the Chair

1. MINUTES

(a) Previous Meetings

The minutes of meetings of this Committee of 17 February and 7 March 2000 were approved as correct records and signed by the Convener.

(b) 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. (APPENDIX I)

2. EDUCATION SERVICE PLAN 2000/2001

With reference to Article 5 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 8 June 1999, there was submitted Report No 448/00 by the Director of Education advising on progress made in implementing the 1999/2000 Education Service Plan and informing members of the arrangements being made for the finalisation of the Education Service Plan 2000/2001.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the considerable progress made in relation to development priorities as set out in the 1999/2000 Education Service Plan;
  2. to note the intention of the Director of Education to consult widely on the draft 2000/2001 Education Service Plan; and
  3. to instruct the Director of Education to report back to this Committee on the outcome of the consultative exercise.

3. TOWARDS A SHARED VISION

With reference to Article 9 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 25 January 2000, there was submitted Report No 455/00 by the Director of Education seeking the Committee's approval of an updated vision statement for the education service in Angus. The draft vision statement had formed the basis of an extensive consultation exercise with a wide range of key stakeholders. A number of helpful and positive suggestions had emerged from the consultation with clear widespread support for the draft statement.

The Committee agreed to approve the undernoted statement of shared vision for the education service in Angus:-

"We are committed to realising the potential of all children, young people, communities and staff by:

4. SCHOOL BUILDINGS

With reference to Article 7 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 20 April 1999, there was submitted Joint Report No 449/00 by the Director of Education and the Director of Property Services indicating that the Scottish Parliament had launched a major inquiry into the current state of Scottish school buildings and infrastructure. Responses had been sought from local authorities by 19 May 2000 and a draft response from Angus Council was set out in Appendix 1 to the Report.

The Report highlighted the priority accorded by this Council to improving school buildings and advised that an Asset Management Plan was being developed to ensure that all school buildings would provide an adequate environment for learning. The Asset Management Plan had initially concentrated on the ten primary schools listed in the Report and had highlighted specific issues requiring to be addressed in St Vigean's Primary School and Maisondieu Primary School.

Having heard Councillor Myles, as local member, welcome the provisional proposals for upgrading Maisondieu Primary School, the Committee, for its interest, agreed:-

  1. to approve the contents of Appendix 1 to the Report as the Council's response to the School Infrastructure Inquiry being undertaken by the Education, Culture and Sport Committee of the Scottish Parliament;
  2. to note the analysis already undertaken on each of the ten Angus primary schools most of which currently made extensive use of temporary accommodation, a detailed Asset Management Plan for each of the ten schools having been placed in the Members' Lounge;
  3. to note the summary of the ten Asset Management Plans contained within Appendix 1 (Annex B) to the Report, including the provisional prioritisation contained within that summary on the understanding that any given project would only be undertaken if adequate financial resources were available and formal Council approval had been given;
  4. to note, in particular, the circumstances of St Vigean's Primary School and instruct the Director of Education to undertake a preliminary consultation exercise with the staff and parents of St Vigean's Primary School on the possibility of closing that school in approximately 14 months from now (i.e. in June 2001); and
  5. to note also the high provisional priority accorded to Maisondieu Primary School and instruct the Directors of Education and Property Services to bring forward a detailed Report outlining a proposed project plan for upgrading Maisondieu Primary School.

5. ABERLEMNO PRIMARY SCHOOL ­ REPLACEMENT OF TEMPORARY ACCOMMODATION

There was submitted Joint Report No 310/00 by the Director of Property Services and the Director of Education advising on the current status of the extension and adaptations at Aberlemno Primary School and recommending the provision of supplementary funding to be met from the Property Renewal and Repair Fund towards the cost of additional works required as a result of essential design developments.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed:-

  1. to note the terms of the Report;
  2. to approve the bid for supplementary funding in the sum of £56,000 from the Property Renewal and Repair Fund;
  3. to note the funding package in the amount of £28,000 identified to fund the remaining balance of the project; and
  4. to instruct the Director of Property Services to progress the works immediately.

6. SCHOOL CAPACITIES AND INTAKE LIMITS

With reference to Article 7 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 7 March 2000, there was submitted Report No 450/00 by the Director of Education reporting on the outcome of consultation with School Boards about proposals to amend the capacities and intake limits of 26 primary schools in order to take account of the Education (Lower Primary Class Sizes) (Scotland) Regulations 1999. The Report indicated that the School Boards had been supportive, in principle, of the proposals, although two Boards had specifically highlighted the need for some flexibility in the implementation of intake limits.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the contents of the Report;
  2. to approve the amended school capacities and intake limits set out in the Appendix to the Report; and
  3. to note that any future reductions in maximum class sizes could result in further alterations to the capacities and intake limits proposed in the Report.

7. GAELIC MEDIUM EDUCATION

With reference to Article 4 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 24 August 1999, there was submitted Report No 451/00 by the Director of Education highlighting a number of possible future developments in Gaelic medium education in Angus including extension of the Gaelic medium provision at Kirkriggs Primary School, Forfar to pre-fives and the recruitment of a suitable teacher (or teachers) to enable some continuation of Gaelic for pupils as they moved into secondary school.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to commend the excellent work taking place in the Gaelic medium class in Kirkriggs Primary School;
  2. to note and approve, in principle, the potential for future development of pre-fives Gaelic medium education; and
  3. to instruct the Director of Education to identify ways in which some provision for Gaelic could be made for secondary school pupils in Angus.

8. EXTENSION OF PRE-FIVES EDUCATIONAL PROVISION

With reference to Article 18 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 8 June 1999, there was submitted Report No 456/00 by the Director of Education detailing proposals for the further extension of pre-fives educational provision in session 2000/2001. The Report proposed, in particular, the establishment of a number of posts as a consequence of the developments in pre-fives education including new provision at Glamis, Liff and Rosemount Primary Schools; continuation of the process of developing partnership arrangements with private and voluntary providers of pre-school education; and a review of pre-fives provision to determine priorities for future development.

The Committee agreed to note and approve the contents of the Report.

9. STANDARDS AND QUALITY IN SCOTTISH SECONDARY SCHOOLS 1994-97: ENGLISH ­ A REPORT BY HM INSPECTORS OF SCHOOLS

There was submitted Report No 452/00 by the Director of Education seeking approval of proposals to take forward in Angus schools the recommendations by HM Inspectors in the English "Standards and Quality" Report. The HMI Report recognised that whilst much good work occurred in English departments across Scotland, there was "much room for improvement in key aspects of this major area of the curriculum". An Angus Council Working Group had been established to consider the HMI Report and its response was set out in the Appendix to the Report.

The Report concluded that the recommendations of the Working Group would be likely to make a significant contribution to ensuring that Angus secondary schools could respond positively and purposefully to the recommendations for improvement in the teaching and learning of English made by HM Inspectors.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the terms of the Report; and
  2. to note and approve the detailed proposals for action prepared by the Angus Working Group which comprised teachers of English, and of Modern Languages and school librarians, as outlined in the Appendix to the Report.

10. CONSULTATION EXERCISES ­ ASSESSMENT 3-14 AND STRUCTURE AND BALANCE OF THE 5-14 CURRICULUM

There was submitted Report No 453/00 by the Director of Education indicating that HMI had recently published a consultation document on a review of Assessment for pre-fives and for pupils in the 5-14 age range. The Scottish CCC had also undertaken a consultation exercise on draft guidelines on the Structure and Balance of the 5-14 Curriculum. A short-life working group had been formed by Angus Council to consider the consultation documents. The responses prepared by the Working Group were appended to the Report.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the paper submitted in response to the consultative HMI paper on Assessment (3-14); and
  2. to approve the draft response to the Scottish CCC's consultative guidelines on the Structure and Balance of the 5-14 Curriculum.

11. EXEMPTION FROM PAYMENT OF INSTRUMENTAL TUITION FEES ­ APPLICATION OF WORKING FAMILIES TAX CREDIT

With reference to Article 5 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 7 March 2000, there was submitted Report No 454/00 by the Director of Education describing the current criteria for exemption from payment of Instrumental Tuition fees and recommending minimal amendments to these criteria to take account of the government's replacement of Family Credit by Working Families Tax Credit.

The Committee agreed to approve the continuation of exemption of parental fees for children receiving instrumental tuition who were:-

  1. studying for an SQA qualification in Music (at Standard Grade, Higher or CSYS); or
  2. entitled to receive a School Clothing Grant.

12. THE CHILDREN'S SERVICES DEVELOPMENT FUND ­ ADDITIONAL FUNDING

With reference to Article 3 of the minute of meeting of the Social Work Committee of 18 April 2000, there was submitted Joint Report No 427/00 by the Director of Social Work, the Director of Education and the Director of Personnel informing the Committee of additional funding provided to Angus for social work services through the Children's Services Development Fund and seeking approval for proposals identified in the Report for the use of this additional funding.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed to approve the developments described in the Report.

13. SURESTART (SCOTLAND)

With reference to Article 4 of the minute of meeting of the Social Work Committee of 18 April 2000, there was submitted Joint Report No 428/00 by the Director of Social Work, the Director of Education and the Director of Personnel outlining the progress of the Surestart (Scotland) initiative in Angus and recommending support for further developments in 2000/2001 from within additional funding provided by the Scottish Executive.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed to approve the further development of Surestart (Scotland) as described in the Report.

14. REGISTRATION OF CHILDMINDING AND DAYCARE FOR CHILDREN UNDER EIGHT ­ CHILDREN ACT 1989 ­ PART X

With reference to Article 5 of the minute of meeting of the Social Work Committee of 18 April 2000, there was submitted Joint Report No 430/00 by the Director of Social Work, the Director of Education and the Director of Personnel advising the Committee of Angus Council's duties in relation to the regulation of childminders and providers of non-domestic day care for children under eight. The Report gave details of the current activity levels in relation to the four main components of regulation, namely registration, inspection, investigation of complaints and enforcement action.

The Report also outlined proposals to co-ordinate the operational arrangements for regulation of childminders and providers of non-domestic day care for children under eight in response to the recommendations made in the Registration Best Value Service Review undertaken in 1999. Following a review of the current operational arrangements and structures, proposals were also made in the Report for the management and decision-making structures.

The Report concluded that, although Angus Council had recorded its opposition to the setting-up of the Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care, it was necessary to ensure that effective regulation of early years services could continue if the regulation of community care services was removed to a Commission.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed to approve the developments described in the Report.

15. FEES FOR INDEPENDENT SPECIAL SCHOOLS

With reference to Article 9 of the minute of meeting of the Social Work Committee of 18 April 2000, there was submitted Joint Report No 431/00 by the Directors of Social Work and Education. The Report proposed that, for the reasons outlined in the Report, Angus Council should follow the advice issued by COSLA that Councils should not generally agree increases in fees for independent special schools in 2000/2001 which were more than 2.5% above the equivalent rate set for 1999/2000.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed to approve the advice described in the Report and the action approved by the Social Work Committee.

16. 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.

17. PROVISION OF INTRANETS ­ PURCHASE OF SOFTWARE

With reference to Article 3 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 7 March 2000, there was submitted Report No 435/00 by the Director of Education seeking the approval of the Committee for exemption from the normal tendering requirements under Financial Regulation 14.1.3c for the purchase of software from ICL to assist in the creation of intranets within individual schools which were compatible with departmental and corporate intranets.

The Committee agreed to approve the exemption from the normal tendering requirements under Financial Regulation 14.1.3c for the purchase of ICL ICONGrid at a cost of £8,750.

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