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Education Committee

MINUTE of MEETING of the EDUCATION COMMITTEE held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Tuesday 6 March 2001 at 4.00 pm.

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

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 Meeting

The minute of meeting of this Committee of 23 January 2001 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 12 February 2001, a copy of which is appended hereto, was submitted and noted (Appendix I).

(c) Staffing Sub-Committee

The minute of meeting of the Staffing Sub-Committee of 23 February 2001, a copy of which is appended hereto, was submitted and noted (Appendix II).

2. SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE RESPONSE TO CAREERS SERVICE REVIEW

There was submitted Report No 211/01 by the Director of Education advising that a review of the Careers Service in Scotland had been carried out by a Review Committee chaired by Barbara Duffner, Head of Personnel (North) at Royal Mail.

The Scottish Executive had issued a response to the Review, together with a commentary on Duffner's recommendations, and the Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning was seeking views and comments by 9 March 2001. Following discussions with the Board of Tayside Careers Service, an Angus Council response had been compiled to reflect those issues which were likely to have greatest relevance to Angus, and this was appended to the Report.

The Committee agreed to authorise the Director of Education to submit the comments set out in Appendix 1 to the Report to the Scottish Executive, as the Council's official response.

3. EDUCATION FOR CITIZENSHIP IN SCOTLAND ­ A PAPER FOR DISCUSSION AND CONSULTATION

There was submitted Report No 291/01 by the Director of Education advising that in September 2000, Learning & Teaching Scotland had issued a paper for discussion and consultation entitled "Education for Citizenship in Scotland" which outlined the qualities and dispositions regarded as essential characteristics of active and responsible citizenship.

A short life working group had prepared a response to the consultation paper which was appended to the Report. The response suggested that the key message was that, in terms of developing citizenship, the importance of an appropriate ethos permeating all the activities of a school was much greater than any detailed analysis of subject content within the formal curriculum.

The Committee agreed to approve Appendix 2 to the Report as the Council's response to the consultation paper prepared by Learning & Teaching Scotland.

4. UNDER-AGE ENROLMENT IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS

There was submitted Report No 292/01 by the Director of Education highlighting amendments to legislation introduced under Section 38 of the Standards in Scotland's Schools etc Act 2000, relating to enrolment of children under five in primary schools.

The Report set out the current arrangements for enrolment of P1 pupils, together with changes to these arrangements to be implemented in accordance with SEED Circular No 1/2001. The Circular addressed the legal constraints governing parental wishes for children whose fifth birthday fell after the first day of the school session in August but on, or before, the last day of the following February. These requests were not now statutory "placing requests" and there was therefore no entitlement to appeal to the Sheriff Court should any such "placing request" be unsuccessful.

The Director of Education had prepared Procedural Guidelines for the Admission of Children Under School Age to Primary Schools which sought to clarify the new legislative position. A draft had been circulated to the JCC (Teachers) at its meeting on 12 February 2001 (Article 4 refers) and the teachers' side had given its unanimous support to the content.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the contents of the Report, in particular the clarification recently offered by the Scottish Executive on parental rights with respect to requests for children under 5 years of age to attend primary schools; and
  2. to authorise the Director of Education to issue to all primary head teachers, the Guidelines on Admission of Children under School Age to Primary Schools, and to implement the arrangements described therein.

5. HIGHER STILL:

  1. UPDATED IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGY
  2. GUIDELINES FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF CORE SKILLS AND SCOTTISH GROUP AWARDS

With reference to Article 9 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 21 November 2000, there was submitted Report No 293/01 by the Director of Education bringing to the attention of the Committee, an updated Higher Still Implementation Strategy and seeking approval of guidelines for the management of Core Skills and Scottish Group Awards in the senior school curriculum.

The Report concluded that, while the issue of the updated implementation strategy and Core Skills and Scottish Group Awards guidelines would not, in any way, respond to the major deficiencies which had been the subject of recent national enquiries into the 2000 SQA diet, the advice which they provided would be of significant value to Angus schools in their continuing development of the senior school curriculum.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note and endorse the contents of the updated Higher Still Implementation Strategy set out in Appendix 1 to the Report; and
  2. to note and endorse the terms of the guidelines documents in relation to Core Skills and Scottish Group Awards set out in Appendix 2 to the Report.

6. SQA CONSULTATION EXERCISES:

  1. 2001-2002 WINTER DIET
  2. 2002 EXAMINATION DIET
  3. THE SCOTTISH QUALIFICATIONS CERTIFICATE (SQC) ­ POSSIBLE CHANGES FOR IMPLEMENTATION IN SUMMER 2001

With reference to Article 9 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 21 November 2000, there was submitted Report No 294/01 by the Director of Education bringing to the attention of the Committee, details of three recent SQA consultation exercises and officer responses already submitted on (i) the 2001-2002 Winter Diet which was of relevance to further education colleges; (ii) the 2002 Examination Diet for National Qualifications which proposed the establishment of an examination period of six weeks; and (iii) possible changes for implementation in Summer 2001 of the Scottish Qualifications Certificate (SQC) which proposed a less "cluttered" and confusing certificate.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the main terms of the consultation papers recently issued by SQA in relation to examination diets and a revised Scottish Qualifications Certificate (SQC); and
  2. to note and endorse the responses to the consultation exercises prepared by officers (attached to the Report as Appendices 1a, 2 and 3) which had already been submitted to SQA in order to comply with the tight consultation timescales.

7. SIXTH SPECIAL OLYMPIC GAMES ­ CARDIFF ­ 28 JULY TO 4 AUGUST 2001

With reference to Article 5 of the minute of meeting of the Recreation and Cultural Services Committee of 1 March 2001, there was submitted Joint Report No 258/01 by the Director of Social Work, the Director of Education and the Director of Recreation Services highlighting to the Committee the selection of 9 staff and 32 athletes from Angus Council in the Tayside Special Olympics Team to be entered into the Sixth Special Olympics Games to be held in Cardiff from 28 July to 4 August 2001.

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

8. ESTABLISHMENT OF ADDITIONAL POSTS OF COMMUNITY EDUCATION WORKER AND (PART TIME) CLERICAL ASSISTANT

With reference to Article 3(a) of the minute of meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee of 18 March 1997, there was submitted Joint Report No 295/01 by the Director of Education and the Director of Personnel seeking approval to establish a professional Community Education Worker post and part time Clerical Assistant post to support the continuing development of the Angus Youth Congress. It was intended that the posts would be located in the new "One Stop Shop Youth Resource Unit" once premises for the Unit had been identified.

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

9. SAFER ROUTES TO SCHOOLS

With reference to Articles 7 and 5 of the minutes of meetings of the Education and Roads Committees held on 22 and 24 August 2000 respectively, there was submitted Joint Report No 296/01 by the Director of Roads and the Director of Education updating the Committee on progress already made on the Safer Routes to Schools programme and seeking approval to continue with this programme in 2001/2002.

Having heard Councillor Ritchie and Provost Duncan in relation to routes within their wards, the Committee agreed:-

  1. to note that, to date, there had been no resolution to the negotiations with Railtrack regarding the flooding of the footpath at the railway bridge between Hillside and Montrose Academy but that this problem would be addressed as soon as possible;
  2. to note that the proposal for a cycle lane at Craig o' Loch Road/Queenswell Road, Forfar had been postponed meanwhile pending the construction of the junction improvement at Castle Street for the new Tesco Superstore but that provision of the cycle lane would be pursued as soon as possible;
  3. to note the progress already made on the Safer Routes to Schools programme;
  4. to note that, to date, there had been no indication that there would be any further direct funding from the Scottish Executive for Safer Routes to Schools to maintain the momentum generated by the additional capital funding of £109,000 received in 2000/2001; and
  5. to authorise the Director of Education and the Director of Roads to prepare a programme for Safer Routes to Schools in 2001/2002 for approval by the relevant Committees.

10. CHARGES FOR THE LETTING OF EDUCATION DEPARTMENT PREMISES: PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE SCHEME FOR OUT OF SCHOOL CARE CLUBS

With reference to Article 2 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 7 March 2000, there was submitted Report No 297/01 by the Director of Education detailing proposals to amend the present letting scheme which governed the use of education department premises by Out of School Care Clubs. The Report indicated that wherever possible, Clubs would be supported, but that it was not possible to guarantee availability of buildings or staff for all periods requested.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to approve the revised charging arrangements detailed in Section 4.3 of the Report; and
  2. to authorise formal discussions with Angus Childcare Partnership to seek to secure direct financial assistance for individual Out of School Care Clubs.

11. DEVOLVED SCHOOL MANAGEMENT - AMENDMENTS TO COUNCIL SCHEME

With reference to Article 3 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 22 August 2000, there was submitted Report No 298/01 by the Director of Education outlining proposed amendments to the Angus Council Scheme of Devolved School Management with respect to Education Information Technology Services, the Central Technician Service, Property Services, Education Department Financial Services and SQA fees.

The Committee agreed to note and approve the proposed amendments to the Council's Scheme of Devolved School Management, as outlined in the Report.

12. EDUCATION DEPARTMENT ­ CENTRAL INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SYSTEMS

There was submitted Report No 299/01 by the Director of Education outlining proposals to simplify current information handling arrangements and to purchase new software to improve Management Information Systems within the Education Department.

At present, all Angus secondary schools used Phoenix Software for administrative purposes while primary schools used an in-house developed system. The Report proposed that a Phoenix Central System be introduced at Education Department Headquarters to improve electronic transfer of information between the Education Department and schools. The system would also improve the management of School Board elections.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to approve the purchase of the Phoenix Central System and associated hardware to improve Management Information Systems within the Education Department; and
  2. to approve the simplified election procedure for School Boards.

13. 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 to the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, paragraphs 6, 8 and 9.

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

14. REPLACEMENT OF CURTAIN WALLING AT FORFAR ACADEMY ­ PROGRESS REPORT

With reference to Article 2 of the minute of meeting of the Personnel and Property Services Committee of 30 January 2001, there was submitted Joint Report No 338/01 by the Director of Education and the Director of Property Services providing an update on the progress achieved in taking forward the replacement of the curtain walling at Forfar Academy.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the selection of Torith Ltd, Dundee, as the preferred contractor to progress the project, utilising their offer as the basis to negotiate a revised price and programme of works for the project, which offered the best solution to the school;
  2. to note that (i) above was without prejudice to the position of the Council should such negotiations not prove ultimately successful; and
  3. to note that a further report would be considered by the Personnel and Property Services Committee at its meeting to be held on 13 March 2001.
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