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Education Committee

APPENDIX to the minute of meeting of the Education Committee of 10 October 2000 (Article 1(d) refers)

MINUTE of MEETING of the JOINT CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE (TEACHERS) held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Monday 18 September 2000 at 4.00 pm.

Present: Authority Representatives

Councillors BRIAN MILNE, SHEENA WELSH, Mr JIM ANDERSON (Director of Education) and Mr NEIL LOGUE (Head of Educational Services).

Teachers' Representatives

GRAEME KIDDIE, BRIAN McHARDY, ARTHUR PRITCHARD, PETER ANDREWS, LESLEY ANDERSON, JIM FALCONER and ALICE McLEOD.

1. MINUTE OF PREVIOUS MEETING

The minute of meeting of this Committee of 15 May 2000 was submitted and approved as a correct record.

In relation to matters arising from the minute, the Committee agreed:-

  1. to note that there had been an encouraging level of parental interest in the first two meetings of the Parental Sounding Board to date. Notes of meetings of the Sounding Board would be submitted to this Committee for information. The next meeting was due to be held in early December (Article 3 refers); and
  2. to note that the working group to be established on the transfer of information would comprise teacher representatives from this Committee and other representatives. Minutes of the working group would be submitted to this Committee (Article 6 refers).

2. SCOTTISH QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY ­ MOTIONS FROM EDUCATION COMMITTEE

There was submitted an extract (Article 1) of the minute of meeting of the Education Committee of 22 August 2000 on a motion by Councillor Milne, Convener of the Education Committee regarding 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.

Councillor Milne referred to his motion and advised that a further composite motion had been agreed by Angus Council at its meeting held on 14 September which revised the motion agreed by the Education Committee as follows:-

  1. calls on the Scottish Executive, appropriate Ministers and their advisers to shoulder their full share of the responsibility for the disgraceful and totally unprecedented situation which has arisen, and for the resignation of the Education Minister, Sam Galbraith;
  2. calls on the Scottish Executive to ensure that the terms of reference of the inquiry into this national debacle take account "inter alia" of
    1. the specification of the National Qualifications 2000 diet set for the SQA by the Scottish Executive;
    2. the administration by the SQA of the 2000 diet;
    3. the procedures set in place to form the SQA through the merger of SEB and SCOTVEC;
  3. calls on the Scottish Executive and the SQA to send a letter of apology to every single student who sat an exam this year."
  4. Peter Andrews referred to the meeting of the Education Committee and welcomed the support from elected members in seeking a moratorium on any further curriculum developments in response to clear concerns from teachers on the scope and pace of initiatives and resulting changes. He proposed that a sub-group of this Committee be set up to examine new initiatives and the feasibility of their delivery. He also proposed the re-establishment of school based consultative mechanisms which comprised elected teacher groups working with school management to identify priorities where such mechanisms were not in place.

Jim Anderson stressed that the remit of the Education Development Advisory Group (EDAG) included the development of initiatives and stressed the need for a co-ordinated approach between groups. EDAG was comprised of a number of interests, including two teacher representatives from the JCC.

Thereafter Jim Anderson advised the Committee, for its interest, of the Higher and Standard Grade appeals to the SQA. 229 appeals at standard grade had been lodged in 1999 and 517 in the current year. Of these, there had been 117 urgent appeals for Higher Still and Sixth Year Studies and 642 general appeals. This year schools had noted fluctuations in levels of awards for no apparent reasons.

Following discussion, the Committee agreed:-

  1. to welcome the motions agreed by the Education Committee and Angus Council in respect of the SQA Awards for 2000;
  2. to instruct the Clerk to circulate to members of this Committee the motion agreed by Angus Council at its meeting held on 14 September;
  3. that a short-life working group be established to consider ways of supporting the work of EDAG; and
  4. to note that EDAG would have a key role in the working group.

3. RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF PUPILS AND PARENTS

With reference to Article 8 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 9 February 2000, there was submitted, for information, a copy of Report No 256/00 on the rights and responsibilities of pupils and parents which had been approved by the Education Committee on 7 March 2000.

Jim Anderson gave an update on the position and sought the establishment of a working group to consider the responses to the consultation with parents and pupils on the contents of a draft statement of rights and responsibilities of pupil and parents and to prepare a finalised statement for the JCC's consideration.

Arthur Pritchard indicated the teachers' side's willingness to be involved in the working group especially in the context of a worrying overall trend of violence and aggression towards teachers.

The Committee agreed to note the position.

4. SECONDARY SUPPLY TEACHERS

There was submitted, for consideration, a draft discussion paper by the Director of Education on secondary school teacher staffing and the attraction and retention of probationers/availability of supply staff for absence cover. The paper concluded that there appeared to be a problem about identifying sufficient teachers to provide absence cover, although it would also appear that the problem was difficult to describe or quantify accurately. No single solution seemed immediately obvious but there were a number of different approaches which could minimise the likelihood of major disruption to learning. Specific actions recommended for immediate implementation included:-

  1. continued arrangements for attendance of Council teams at TEI Annual Recruitment Fairs;
  2. provision of each student undertaking a placement in an Angus secondary with an Information/Recruitment Pack;
  3. initiation of a simple register of potentially interest student teachers;
  4. seeking early intimation (each January) from teaching staff of possible retirement/resignation at the end of session;
  5. critical review of each "temporary" vacancy arising to ascertain the viability of filling it on a permanent post/temporary location basis;
  6. encouraging, subject to the overview of the Director of Education, imaginative use of devolved school budgets to augment staffing levels, with a view of minimising disruption to learning in the event of long term staff absences;
  7. considering, in the context of the foregoing, two recommendations encouraging an increase in the overall number of permanent teaching posts, and in consultation with the JCC (Teachers), whether greater flexibility in management of the staffing element of devolved school budgets could be agreed;
  8. review, by individual schools of timetabling arrangements to maximise capacity for internal cover; and
  9. maintenance of a critical overview of the frequency of in-service training events which would require teachers to be away from their normal timetabled classes.

Jim Anderson stressed that this paper was for consultation and sought comments from teacher representatives.

Brian McHardy welcomed the work carried out to date but expressed concern regarding paragraph 5.4 of the report which suggested that schools might wish to create more effective contingency arrangements by reducing the overall staffing complement and recruiting a part-time teacher with the facility to increase the appointment to full-time or recruiting an additional full-time teacher in a different subject to meet unexpected shortages. He also expressed concern regarding (g) above concerning greater flexibility in the management of staffing levels of devolved school budgets. However, he welcomed (f) above regarding the use of school budgets to augment staffing levels.

Jim Anderson accepted the concerns expressed but stressed that resources would always be finite. Therefore, there may be a need for greater flexibility in the future but any such flexibility would be discussed with this Committee.

Alice McLeod suggested that a number of probationer teachers in each subject area be given permanent contracts in order to prevent the "drain" of new teachers to other authorities. Jim Anderson recognised the need to retain probationer teachers but expressed concern that the proposal would reduce overall flexibility to employ teachers in particular subject areas.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note that the paper would be issued to Secondary Head Teachers for consultation;
  2. to note the concerns expressed by the Teacher Representatives; and
  3. to instruct Jim Anderson to report back in due course.

5. MONITORING OF "AGE AND STAGE RESTRICTIONS"

With reference to Article 12 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 15 May 2000, there was submitted, for information, Report No 877/00 by the Director of Education which had been approved by the Education Committee on 22 August 2000.

Jim Anderson gave an update on the position to date and indicated that he had received little interest in the "fast tracking" system. However, one secondary school had implemented a system to allow four classes of pupils to sit the mathematics Standard Grade examinations in two separate years. As a result, the Council would be required to meet examination fees for these pupils for both years. He was not aware of any other school which was interested in this system at present.

Graeme Kiddie asked Jim Anderson to monitor the system. He also asked him to emphasise to Head Teachers that they should incorporate a brief summary of any proposed steps to be taken to relax age restrictions in their annual reports and that any such proposals be shared with other Angus Schools prior to implementation. He drew attention to paragraph 4.2 in the report in which each Head Teacher was required to give an annual report on any proposed steps to relax Age and Stage restrictions prior to implementation and also to paragraph 4.1 where it stated that school consultative mechanisms should be used.

Jim Falconer suggested that it had been a motivational rather than a fast-tracking exercise which had been carried out.

The Committee agreed to note:-

  1. that the Appendix to Report No 877/00 had been issued to Head Teachers;
  2. that Jim Anderson should remind Head Teachers of the need for school based consultation on any proposed fast-tracking system and the need to take into account the needs of individual children; and
  3. that he should report back to this Committee periodically on the position.

6. VIOLENCE AND AGGRESSION TO STAFF ­ APRIL TO AUGUST 2000

With reference to Article 13 of the minute of previous meeting, there was submitted Report No 976/00 by the Director of Education giving information about ten cases involving secondary pupils, four cases involving primary school pupils and one case relating to Community Education work, all relating to violence and/or aggression to staff which had occurred during the period April to August 2000.

Brian McHardy emphasised the need to look at the Re-admissions Policy for those pupils who were excluded and Arthur Pritchard and Lesley Anderson both stressed the need for clear information to staff when a decision was made to re-admit a child after exclusion.

Having heard the details from Jim Anderson, the Committee to note:-

  1. the nature of the incidents; and
  2. that the Director of Education should remind Secondary Head Teachers of the Council's re-admissions policy after exclusion.

7. PROGRAMME OF MEETINGS

The Committee agreed the following timetable of meetings to be held at 3.30 pm in the Council Chamber, The Cross, Forfar:-

Monday 11 December 2000 (Agenda setting meeting ­ Monday 27 November 2000 at 4.00 pm)

Monday 12 February 2001 (Agenda setting meeting ­ Monday 29 January 2001 at 4.00 pm)

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