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Education Committee

MINUTE of MEETING of the EDUCATION COMMITTEE held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Tuesday 22 August 2000 at 4.00 pm.

Present: Councillors BRIAN MILNE, SHEENA WELSH, Provost Mrs FRANCES E DUNCAN OBE, Councillors GLENNIS MIDDLETON, ROBERT MYLES, PETER NIELD, HELEN OSWALD, KITTY RITCHIE and SANDY WEST and Mr PETER ANDREWS, Mr BRIAN McHARDY.

Apologies: Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Councillors JACK GIBB, DAVID LUMGAIR, STEWART MCGLYNN, GEORGE NORRIE MBE, Rev MARK CASSIDY, Rev CARLEEN ROBERTSON and Rev KENNETH GIBSON

Councillor ALISTAIR GRAY was also present with the concurrence of the Committee.

Councillor MILNE, Convener, in the Chair.

The following matter was, on the determination of the Convener dealt with as a matter of urgency, in light of recent events surrounding the much awaited SQA results.

1. SCOTTISH QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY (SQA) RESULTS

The Convener referred to the effect on pupils and parents of the current problems in relation to the delays and incorrect examination results issued by the SQA, following the 2000 Examination diet, and proposed the following motion:-

"That the Committee agrees:-

  1. to express its full and unequivocal support to pupils and their parents who were affected and agreed to translate that support into whatever practical assistance may be possible;
  2. to offer to make available advice and all reasonable practical assistance to the Scottish Executive and to the SQA in order to minimise the damaging impact on young people of recent events;
  3. to urge COSLA to ensure that all Scottish education authorities were closely involved in identifying the lessons which must be learned from this sorry episode and ensure that appropriate remedial action is taken as a matter of urgency;
  4. to call on the Scottish Executive and appropriate Ministers to shoulder their full share of the responsibility for the disgraceful and totally unprecedented situation which had arisen;
  5. to call on the Scottish Executive to indicate at the earliest possible date the causes of the unmitigated failure of procedures in relation to the 2000 Examination diet and the precise measures which would be taken to avoid a recurrence of this year's difficulties in the 2001diet."

The Committee approved the motion and agreed the matter be placed on the agenda for the next meeting of the Joint Consultative Committee (Teachers).

Thereafter, having heard Mr Peter Andrews and Mr Brian McHardy express further concern on the ways in which recent curriculum developments in education had been given effect, the Committee further agreed:-

  1. to call on the Scottish Executive Education Department to place a moratorium on any further curriculum developments until there could be confidence that current educational developments were sufficiently embedded; and
  2. that this matter also be considered by the Council's Joint Consultative Committee (Teachers).

2. MINUTES

(a) Previous Meeting

The minute of meeting of this Committee of 6 June 2000 was approved as a correct record 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).

(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 decision of the Sub-Committee as set out in the minute, a copy of which is appended hereto. (APPENDIX II).

3. BEST VALUE SERVICE REVIEW ­ SECONDARY EDUCATION

With reference to Article 2 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 25 April 2000, there was submitted Report No 830/00 by the Director of Education describing the outcomes of the Secondary Education Best Value Service Review and seeking approval of the Service Improvement Plan, as prepared by the Review Team.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the terms of the Report;
  2. to note and approve the terms of the Secondary Education Best Value Review Report, copies of which had been placed in the Members' Lounge; and
  3. to approve the proposed Improvement Plan outlined in the Appendix to the Report.

4. PROVISION OF FINGER GUARDS IN COUNCIL PROPERTIES ­ PHASE 1

With reference to Article 27 of the minute of meeting of the Personnel & Property Services Committee and Article 15 of the Finance & Information Technology Committee held on 13 June 2000, there was submitted Report No 668/00 by the Director of Property Services seeking approval for the provision of supplementary funding from the Property Renewal and Repair Fund to allow the first phase of the installation of finger guards in selected non-housing properties.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed to note the funding package from the Property Renewal and Repair Fund and the Education Client Revenue Budget for Phase 1 of the programme.

5. TAYSIDE ORAL HEALTH STRATEGY: CONSULTATION DOCUMENT

With reference to Article 6 of the minute of meeting of the Environmental and Consumer Protection Committee of 8 August 2000 and Article 14 of the minute of meeting of the Social Work Committee of 15 August 2000, there was submitted Joint Report No 762/00 by the Director of Environmental and Consumer Protection, the Director of Social Work and the Director of Education informing members of the publication by Tayside Health Board and Tayside Primary Care NHS Trust of a consultation document entitled "Tayside Oral Health Strategy" and seeking approval of the Council's response to the consultation exercise.

The Report concluded that the strategy was to be welcomed as providing a useful starting point in the process of developing Oral Health Strategy for Tayside, although it was clear that a considerable amount of work would require to be undertaken in the local area to ensure that available resources could be articulated more effectively to the needs of Angus residents.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed:-

  1. to note the contents of the Report; and
  2. to approve the Council's response to the Consultation Exercise, subject to the inclusion at para. 3.4 that dental services should be free at the point of delivery, the deletion at para. 3.5 of the third sentence, and the insertion in the fourth sentence of "As a practical alternative for those who wish", in place of "In the meantime".

6. REGULATION OF EARLY EDUCATION AND CHILDCARE

With reference to Article 15 of the minute of meeting of the Social Work Committee of 15 August 2000, there was submitted Joint Report No 832/00 by the Director of Social Work and the Director of Education informing members of the publication by the Scottish Executive of a consultation paper entitled "Regulation of Early Education and Childcare: The Way Ahead" which contained proposals to bring together regulations governing early education on childcare.

The publication was the second consultation document on the specific subject of early education and childcare and the latest in a series of consultation papers issued by the Scottish Executive with a direct bearing on the education and care of children age 0 to 14. Attached to the Report was the Council's response to the consultation document, which had been produced prior to the Committee's consideration, as the consultation period had fallen outwith the Committee cycle.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed:

  1. to note the contents of the Report; and
  2. to approve the response to the consultation document, as appended to the Report, which had been produced by officers of the Social Work and Education Departments.

7. SAFER ROUTES TO SCHOOL

With reference to Article 2 of the minute of meeting of the Roads Committee of 27 January 2000, there was submitted Joint Report No 873/00 by the Director of Education and the Director of Roads outlining additional funding available from the Scottish Executive for the Safer Routes to Schools programme and identifying how the additional resources would be utilised by Angus Council.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed to approve the recommendations detailed in Report No 873/00.

8. ST VIGEANS PRIMARY SCHOOL

With reference to Article 5 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 6 June 2000, it was reported that the consultation exercise had been initiated, and formal representations had been sought by 31 August 2000 (thereby allowing sufficient time for interested School Boards to consider the proposals and submit representations).

In these circumstances, the Committee agreed to hold a special meeting of the Education Committee at 3.00 pm on Thursday 14 September 2000 (prior to the Council meeting scheduled for 4.00 pm on the same day) to consider the future of St Vigeans Primary School.

9. SCHOOL TERMS AND HOLIDAYS 2001/2002

With reference to Article 6 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 7 March 2000, there was submitted Report No 875/00 by the Director of Education reporting on the outcome of consultations on a draft scheme of school terms and holidays 2001/2002 and setting out two options in relation to in-service closure days.

After discussion, and having heard Mr Andrews and Mr McHardy, on the outcome of the meeting of the Central Consultative Committee of Thursday 17 August 2000 (Article 1(d) refers), the Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the contents of the Report; and
  2. to approve the main term and holiday dates for 2001/2002 including those dates set out in option B as follows:-

10. "IMPROVING OUR SCHOOLS" ­ A CONSULTATION PAPER ON NATIONAL PRIORITIES FOR SCHOOLS EDUCATION IN SCOTLAND

There was submitted Report No 876/00 by the Director of Education seeking approval for the terms of a Council response to a consultation paper by the Scottish Executive entitled "Improving our Schools". The Report concluded that, although long overdue, the consultation paper should be welcomed for the opportunity it offered to ensure that the government was held responsible for the many educational initiatives which it promoted.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the publication of the Scottish Executive consultation paper on national priorities for schools education in Scotland (copies of which had been placed in the Members' Lounge);
  2. to welcome the long overdue realisation by central government that a national framework was required to enable some sense to be made of the current incoherent patchwork of national educational initiatives; and
  3. to approve the terms of the response to the consultation paper as set out in Appendix A to the Report.

11. AGE AND STAGE RESTRICTIONS AT STANDARD GRADE AND HIGHER

There was submitted Report No 877/00 by the Director of Education seeking the Committee's approval of Guidelines for schools on the presentation of pupils for Standard Grade and Higher examinations. The guidelines, as appended to the Report, detailed the background to the relaxation of Age and Stage restrictions on the presentation of pupils for SQA examinations at Standard and Higher Grades. The Joint Consultative Committee (Teachers), at its meeting of 15 May 2000, had indicated its support for the Guidelines and it was recommended that they now be issued to schools.

Having heard Brian McHardy on the need for the situation to be closely monitored, the Committee agreed:-

  1. to approve the Guidelines for Schools on Age and Stage restrictions at Standard Grade and Higher, as appended to the Report; and
  2. to request that the operation of the Guidelines be monitored and that reports be submitted to this Committee and the Joint Consultative Committee (Teachers) periodically on this matter.

12. HEALTH AND SAFETY ­ EDUCATION DEPARTMENT

There was submitted Report No 879/00 by the Director of Education concerning Health and Safety issues addressed during 1999/2000 and outlining areas identified for development in 2000/2001.

The Committee agreed to note the contents of the Report.

13. SCHOOL SECURITY

With reference to Article 8 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 4 March 1997, there was submitted Report No 880/00 by the Director of Education advising that the Education Departmental Health and Safety Committee had recently commissioned a survey of staff views on school security, the results of which were set out in Appendix 1 to the Report. These views had helped to inform security projects proposed in 2000/2001 which were listed in Appendix 2 to the Report and consisted principally of further improvements to existing security systems, although it was proposed to provide new fencing in a number of schools.

The Committee agreed to note the contents of the Report.

14. SCHOOL BUDGETS 2000/2001 - ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL RESOURCES

There was submitted Report No 881/00 by the Director of Education advising that, in accordance with Scottish Executive Education Department Circular No 1/2000, additional financial resources were to be made available to schools in Scotland, following the Budget Statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 21 March 2000, and indicating that monies had been allocated to the 2000/2001 devolved budgets of all Angus Schools, as detailed in the Report.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the terms of Scottish Executive Education Department Circular No 1/2000; and
  2. to note that an additional sum of money had been allocated to the devolved budget of each Angus school for 2000/2001, in accordance with the distribution proposed in the Circular.

15. IMPLEMENTING A POLICY ON ICT IN ANGUS PRIMARY SCHOOLS

With reference to Article 20 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 8 June 1999, there was submitted Report No 882/00 by the Director of Education drawing the Committee's attention to research into Information and Communication Technology in Angus Primary Schools and recommending that the Departmental ICT Strategy Group should consider the research with a view to preparing a follow up action plan consistent with ICT developments, already planned as part of the Education Department's Service Plan for 2000/2001.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the content of the research report prepared by Mary Simpson and Fran Payne, as appended to the Report; and
  2. to ask the Director of Education to arrange for the Education Department's ICT Strategy Group to prepare an appropriate follow up action plan.

16. STANDARDS AND QUALITY IN THE ANGUS EDUCATION SERVICE 1999/2000

With reference to Article 6 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 23 November 1999, there was submitted Report No 884/00 by the Director of Education drawing the attention of the Committee to the finalisation of the first Standards and Quality Report on the Angus Education Service and indicating that the Report would be made available to all Angus educational establishments, School Boards and to any parent or pupil who wished to peruse it.

The Committee agreed to note that a Report had now been finalised on Standards and Quality within the Angus Education Service.

17. ESTABLISHMENT OF ADDITIONAL POST OF COMMUNITY EDUCATION WORKER

There was submitted Joint Report No 885/00 by the Director of Education and the Director of Personnel seeking approval to establish a professional Community Education Worker post to support the development of Community/Lifelong Learning within the rural Glens area of Angus. The Report indicated that the post would build on the success of the ESF funded "Building Blocks" Project in order to sustain and develop the implementation of both the Angus Rural and Community Learning Strategies in the Angus Glens area.

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

18. ESTABLISHMENT OF ADDITIONAL CLERICAL SUPPORT

There was submitted Joint Report No 889/00 by the Director of Education and the Director of Personnel seeking approval to increase the clerical support by 15 hours per week to support the Education Department's Community Education Service in Kirriemuir, as a result of the recent re-development of Fairlie House as a Community Education base and major education resource in the area.

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

19. DISTRIBUTION OF ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR THE CHILDCARE STRATEGY

With reference to Article 13 of the minute of meeting of the Social Work Committee of 15 August 2000, there was submitted Joint Report No 831/00 by the Director of Social Work and the Director of Education advising the Committee of additional funding made available to the Council to support the development of childcare for student parents, provide equipment to enable access to childcare by children with disability and develop the quality of childcare available in Angus through workforce development and training initiatives.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed:-

  1. to approve the proposals for the distribution of the resources; and
  2. to note that the proposals attached to the Report had been submitted to the Scottish Executive, in order that the funding could be released to the Council.

20. CONTRACT FOR ESTABLISHMENT FOR SVQ ASSESSMENT CENTRE FOR PROVISION OF EARLY YEARS CHILDCARE AND EDUCATION

With reference to Article 16 of the minute of meeting of the Social Work Committee of 15 August 2000, there was submitted Joint Report No 835/00 by the Director of Social Work and the Director of Education advising the Committee of the development, led by Angus Childcare Partnership, of an SVQ Assessment Centre in Angus to provide SVQ 2 II and III in Early Years Care and Education and D32/D33 Assessor awards for private and voluntary sector daycare and education providers. The Report set out the response received to advertisements seeking expressions of interests from potential training providers.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed:-

  1. to note the contents of the Report;
  2. to approve the issue of tender documents to the suppliers outlined in the Report; and
  3. to instruct the Director of Education, in consultation with the Director of Social Work, to report back to the Social Work and Education Committees on the tenders received.

21. SCHOOL CONVEYANCE CONTRACTS ­ REVIEW OF CONTRACT PRICES

With reference to Article 14 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 24 August 1999, there was submitted Joint Report No 887/00 by the Director of Education and the Director of Planning and Transport advising that school conveyance contract prices were reviewed on an annual basis and proposing a contract price increase of 3.3% for eligible contracts, effective from 1 July 2000.

The Committee agreed to approve the award of a 3.3% contract price increase for eligible school conveyance contracts, effective from 1 July 2000.

22. 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 items, 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.

23. TENDERING FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION SCHOOL CONVEYANCE REQUIREMENTS 2000/2003

There was submitted Joint Report No 886/00 by the Director of Education and the Director of Planning and Transport detailing the results of the school conveyance tendering exercise undertaken in June 2000 for Special Education Contracts to Dundee Schools and making recommendations regarding the awarding of these contracts.

The Committee agreed to homologate the actions of the Director of Education in awarding the contracts as detailed in the Report.

24. INVERBROTHOCK PRIMARY SCHOOL, ARBROATH

There was submitted Joint Report No 874/00 by the Director of Education and the Director of Property Services outlining a proposal to extend Inverbrothock Primary School to enhance the pre-school provision at the school.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed:-

  1. to approve, in principle, the arrangements to extend Inverbrothock Primary School as described in the Report; and
  2. to approve the procurement method outlined in the Report, in accordance with Financial Regulation 16.1.3 (d).

25. COLLISTON PRIMARY SCHOOL: PRE SCHOOL PROVISION

There was submitted Joint Report No 878/00 by the Director of Education and the Director of Property Services advising the Committee of the proposed extension to Colliston Village Hall and associated works to Colliston Primary School, to enable the establishment of pre-school provision.

Having heard Councillor Gray, local member, welcome the Report, the Committee, for its interest, agreed:-

  1. to approve, in principle, the extension to Colliston Village Hall, together with works to Colliston Primary School at a total cost of £26,000;
  2. to transfer, on completion, the ownership of the extended building to the Village Hall Committee; and
  3. to authorise the Director of Law and Administration and the Director of Property Services to finalise arrangements with the Village Hall Committee for a 15 year lease to protect the Council's use of the premises, with an option to renew for a further period of 10 years on appropriate terms and conditions.
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