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Education Committee

MINUTE of MEETING of the EDUCATION COMMITTEE held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Tuesday 21 August 2001 at 4.00 pm.

Present: Councillors BRIAN MILNE and SHEENA WELSH, Provost Mrs FRANCES E DUNCAN OBE, Councillors DAVID LUMGAIR, STEWART McGLYNN, PETER NIELD, GEORGE NORRIE, KITTY RITCHIE, RON SCRIMGEOUR and SANDY WEST, Rev MICHAEL MILTON, Mr PETER ANDREWS and Mr BRIAN McHARDY.

Apologies: Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Councillors JACK GIBB, GLENNIS MIDDLETON, ROBERT MYLES, 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 5 June 2001 was approved as a correct record and signed by the Convener.

(b) Central Consultative Committee

The Director of Law and Administration reported on the meeting of the Central Consultative Committee held earlier this day. The Committee noted the decisions of the Central Consultative Committee as set out in the minute, a copy of which is appended to the minute of meeting of the Personnel and Property Services Committee of 28 August 2001.

2. BEST VALUE SERVICE REVIEW ­ PRIMARY EDUCATION

With reference to Article 5 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 8 June 1999, there was submitted Report No 908/01 by the Director of Education describing the outcome of the Primary Education Best Value Service Review and seeking the Committee's approval of the Improvement Plan prepared by the Review Team.

The Report concluded that the Review had generated a detailed set of proposals, contained in the Primary Education Best Value Report, to support Angus Council's commitment to continuous improvement in the quality of education provided for primary schools in Angus. The comprehensive nature of the proposed Improvement Plan offered a strong basis for the future management of primary education in Angus, whilst recognising that the financial constraints placed upon the Council might lead to the clarification of efficiency savings at some point in the future.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the terms of the Report;
  2. to note and approve the terms of the Primary Education Best Value Report, a copy of which had been placed in the Members' Lounge;
  3. to approve the proposed Improvement Plan detailed in the Appendix to the Report; and
  4. to note that ongoing corporate deliberations about the future implementation of the Council's Best Value strategy might require further consideration to be given to this Report in the near future.

3. BEST VALUE SERVICE REVIEW ­ SCHOOL CLEANING UPDATE

With reference to Article 13 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 19 October 1999, there was submitted Report No 909/01 by the Director of Education advising of the progress being made in the implementation of the School Cleaning Best Value Service Review Improvement Plan.

The Report concluded that the improvements to the school cleaning service which had been identified in the Service Improvement Plan had been effected and that the Education Department, in partnership with Tayside Contracts, would strive to further improve the school cleaning service in accordance with the Service Improvement Plan, a copy of which was appended to the Report.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the terms of the Report; and
  2. to note that ongoing corporate deliberations about the future implementation of the Council's Best Value strategy might require further consideration to be given to this Report in the near future.

4. BUDGET 2001 ­ ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL RESOURCES FOR SCHOOLS

There was submitted Report No 919/01 by the Director of Education reminding the Committee that, in his March Budget Speech, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had announced additional funding for all UK schools over a three-year period. The Scottish Executive had subsequently issued a Circular to education authorities confirming the allocation of funding for the financial year 2001/2002 only.

The Report concluded that the additional funds would be most welcome and would be devolved to all schools in Angus on the basis of the distribution detailed in the Scottish Executive Circular. However, it would be helpful if the Chancellor of the Exchequer could confirm that similar provisions had been made for 2002/2003 and 2003/2004 to allow forward planning to take account of the needs of pupils over a longer period.

Having heard Mr Peter Andrews and various members on the implications of the Circular for schools in Angus, the Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the terms of the Scottish Executive Education Department Circular 4/2001 appended to the Report; and
  2. to approve the allocation of funding to the devolved budgets of individual schools in accordance with the table set out in Appendix 2 to the Report.

5. DALE SCHOOL TRUST

With reference to Article 7 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 4 March 1997, there was submitted Report No 910/01 by the Director of Law and Administration indicating that the Trustees of the Dale School Trust had requested the Council to vary the terms of the Scheme by which the Trust was administered, as the income was no longer sufficient to implement the terms of the Trust. The Report recommended that the Scheme be varied to allow the Trust to function on an annual basis until such time as the capital value of the Trust was expended.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to approve the request from the Trustees that the Council should undertake the reorganisation of the administration of the Dale School Trust;
  2. to approve (a) the draft Scheme to amend the administration of the Trust, and (b) the draft explanatory memorandum annexed to the Report;
  3. to authorise the Director of Law and Administration to publicise and circulate the draft Scheme; and
  4. to note that the Director of Law and Administration would report back in due course with the result of the consultation on the amended draft Scheme.

6. SCHOOL TERMS AND HOLIDAYS 2002/2003

With reference to Article 4 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 24 April 2001, there was submitted Report No 911/01 by the Director of Education reporting on the outcome of the consultations on the draft Scheme of School Terms and Holidays for session 2002/2003 and recommending that the draft Scheme be adopted.

Having noted the outcome of the meeting of the Central Consultative Committee, held earlier this day (Article 1(b) above refers), the Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the contents of the Report; and
  2. to approve the 2002/2003 term and holiday dates as set out in the Appendix to the Report.

7. STANDARDS AND QUALITY IN ANGUS SCHOOLS 1997-2000

With reference to Article 16 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 22 August 2000, there was submitted Report No 912/01 by the Director of Education drawing the attention of the Committee to the Angus Council Education Service Report "Standards and Quality in Angus Schools, 1997-2000". The Service Report highlighted not only the many strengths and achievements recorded by school communities across Angus, but also areas for improvement and development which had been identified by schools in carrying out a range of self evaluation exercises in a number of key areas of their work. The Report would be issued to all educational establishments in Angus and School Boards and would also be made available to parents and pupils who wished to peruse it.

The Committee agreed to note the contents of the Report entitled "Standards and Quality in Angus Schools, 1997-2000" and the impressive list of achievements recorded by school communities across Angus in the three school sessions covered by the Report.

Councillor Nield declared an interest in the following item.

8. "IMPROVING OUR SCHOOLS ­ ADDRESSING OUR CHILDREN'S EDUCATIONAL NEEDS: THE WAY FORWARD" ­ RESPONSE TO SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE CONSULTATION DOCUMENT

With reference to Article 9 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 5 June 2001, there was submitted Report No 913/01 by the Director of Education drawing the attention of the Committee to an officer response to a Scottish Executive consultation paper entitled "Improving Our Schools ­ Addressing Our Children's Educational Needs: The Way Forward", in which the views of the education authority had been sought on the present arrangements for assessing, recording and reporting arrangements of children with special educational needs.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the terms of the officer response to the consultative document, a copy of which was appended to the Report; and
  2. to homologate the response submitted to the Scottish Executive Education Department by the Director of Education.

9. "A TEACHING PROFESSION FOR THE 21ST CENTURY" ­ APPOINTMENT OF ADDITIONAL SUPPORT STAFF

With reference to Article 6 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 5 June 2001, there was submitted Joint Report No 914/01 by the Director of Education and the Acting Director of Personnel indicating that, following the recent national agreement to improve pay and conditions for Scottish Teaching Staff entitled "A Teaching Profession for the 21st Century", additional funding was now available to provide greater non-teaching staffing support to schools.

The Report advised that a Staff Group representing Senior Management, Trade Unions and Primary and Secondary Head Teachers had proposed specific ways in which this funding should be allocated. The Report summarised the proposals as follows:-

· additional property and ICT support should be established;

· one additional Accounting Technician/Accountant post should be created within the Financial Support Section of the Education Department; and

· additional funding should be allocated to the devolved budget of schools to enable the creation of additional Technician Support, Clerical Support and Classroom Assistant posts as set out in paragraph 6 and Appendix 1.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the additional funding available in the financial year 2001/2002 to provide additional support staff for schools;
  2. to note the likelihood of a higher level of funding being available in 2002/2003, 2003/2004 and beyond;
  3. to endorse, for its interest, proposals to allocate additional funding in the current financial year; and
  4. to instruct the Director of Education and the Acting Director of Personnel to work up proposals for future financial years in association with the Chief Executive, the Director of Finance, the Director of Information Technology and the Director of Property Services and representatives of Trade Unions.

10. LADYLOAN PRIMARY SCHOOL, ARBROATH

With reference to Article 4 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 25 April 2000, there was submitted Joint Report No 915/01 by the Director of Education and the Director of Property Services outlining a proposal to utilise ring-fenced monies provided by the Scottish Executive for pre-school provision at Ladyloan Primary School, Arbroath. This would provide for the addition of two classroom units to increase nursery provision and facilities available to pre-school pupils, and also alleviate overcrowding in the primary school.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed:-

  1. to approve, in principle, the arrangements described in the Report to undertake building works at Ladyloan Primary School;
  2. to note that the Director of Property Services hoped to arrange for the project to be taken forward and completed by March 2002.

11. PROVISION OF FINGER GUARDS IN COUNCIL PROPERTIES ­ PHASE 2

With reference to Article 31 of the minute of meeting of the Personnel and Property Services Committee and Article 13 of the minute of meeting of the Finance and Information Technology Committee of 12 June 2001, there was submitted Report No 704/01 by the Director of Property Services seeking approval for the provision of supplementary funding from the Property Renewal and Repair Fund to allow the second phase of the installation of finger guards in selected non-housing properties.

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

12. HEALTH AND SAFETY

There was submitted Report No 916/01 by the Director of Education detailing the various Health and Safety issues which had been identified and addressed during 2000/2001 and outlined areas for development in 2001/2002.

The Report concluded that the Departmental Health and Safety Committee worked well in highlighting issues of concern and acting as a focus for issues to be raised. However, it was important that Health and Safety was continually monitored within the Department as a whole and priority given to further improvements on a wide range of important issues.

The Committee agreed to note the contents of the Report.

13. ADULT LITERACY AND NUMERACY DEVELOPMENTS IN ANGUS

There was submitted Report No 917/01 by the Director of Education bringing to the attention of the Committee the recommendations of "Literacy and Numeracy in Scotland", the national strategy for literacy and numeracy development, and seeking the Committee's approval of a new Angus Lifelong Learning Good Practice Framework which had been recommended for adoption following a review of adult basic education in Angus.

The Report concluded that the adoption of the Lifelong Learning Framework and the implementation of the recommendations arising from the Review of Adult Basic Education would improve the delivery of literacy and numeracy in Angus.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the recommendations made in "Adult Literacy and Numeracy in Scotland", the national strategy for adult literacy and numeracy development published on 2 July 2001, a copy of which was appended to the Report;
  2. to note the findings of the Review of Adult Basic Education in Angus undertaken by the Community Education Service set out in Appendix 2 to the Report; and
  3. to approve the adoption of the proposed Lifelong Learning Good Practice Framework for the delivery of Literacy and Numeracy within the Community Education Service as set out in paragraph 2.4 of the Report.

14. "REDUCING THE RISK IMPROVING THE RESPONSE TO SEX OFFENDING" ­ THE REPORT OF THE EXPERT PANEL ON SEX OFFENDING (THE COSGROVE REPORT)

With reference to Article 11 of the minute of meeting of the Social Work Committee of 14 August 2001, there was submitted Joint Report No 879/01 by the Director of Social Work, the Director of Education and the Director of Housing advising the Committee on the publication of the final report of the expert panel on sex offending chaired by the Hon Lady Cosgrove, a copy of which had been placed in the Members' Lounge. Comments on the 73 recommendations set out in the Cosgrove Report had been invited and the Committee's approval was sought for a draft response from Angus Council.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed:-

  1. to note the contents of the Report;
  2. to approve the Appendix to the Report as Angus Council's draft comments on each of the 73 recommendations outlined in the Cosgrove Report; and
  3. to instruct the Directors of Social Work, Education and Housing to bring forward any future papers from the Scottish Executive relating to the implementation of the expert panel recommendations.

15. SCHOOL CONVEYANCE CONTRACTS ­ REVIEW OF CONTRACT PRICES

With reference to Article 21 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 22 August 2000, there was submitted Joint Report No 918/01 by the Director of Education and the Director of Planning and Transport advising that the school conveyance contract prices were reviewed on an annual basis and recommending a contract price increase of 3.36% of eligible contracts, effective from 1 July 2001. The school conveyance contracts in Arbroath, Carnoustie and Dundee Rural (Tealing, Liff and Auchterhouse) areas had already been retendered for the 2001/2002 academic session and would not be subject to this inflationary price increase.

The Committee agreed to approve the award of a 3.36% contract price increase for eligible school conveyance contracts effective from 1 July 2001.

16. NEXT MEETING

The Committee agreed to note that the meeting of the Education Committee due to be held on Tuesday 9 October 2001 would now be held on Tuesday 16 October 2001 immediately following the meeting of the Finance and Information Technology Committee.

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