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Education Committee

MINUTE of MEETING of the EDUCATION COMMITTEE held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Tuesday 20 November 2001 at 4.00 pm.

Present: Councillors BRIAN MILNE and SHEENA WELSH, Provost Mrs FRANCES E DUNCAN OBE, Councillors JACK GIBB, DAVID LUMGAIR, GLENNIS MIDDLETON, ROBERT MYLES, PETER NIELD, GEORGE NORRIE MBE, KITTY RITCHIE, RON SCRIMGEOUR and SANDY WEST; Rev KENNETH GIBSON, Father JAMES FOLEY, Rev ALAN WEBSTER, Mr PETER ANDREWS and Mr BRIAN McHARDY.

Apology: An apology for absence was intimated on behalf of Councillor STEWART McGLYNN.

Councillor MILNE, Convener, in the Chair.

1. WELCOME ­ CHURCH REPRESENTATIVES AND HM INSPECTOR OF EDUCATION

With reference to Article 3(b) of the minute of meeting of Angus Council of 1 November 2001, the Convener welcomed Rev Allan Webster and Father James Foley, as the new Church of Scotland and Roman Catholic Church representatives on this Committee.

With reference to Article 4 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 16 October 2001, the Convener also welcomed Ms Annette Bruton, HM Inspector of Education to this meeting.

2. MINUTES

(a) Previous Meeting

The minute of meeting of this Committee of 16 October 2001 was approved as a correct record and signed by the Convener.

(b) Special Cases Sub-Committee

The minute of meeting of the Special Cases Sub-Committee of 18 October 2001 and 15 November 2001, a copy of which is appended hereto, was submitted and noted (APPENDIX I).

3. 2002/2003 REVENUE BUDGET

There was submitted Report No 1319/01 by the Director of Finance advising the Committee of the latest position with regard to the preparation of the Education Department 2002/2003 revenue budget and associated issues. Appended to the Report was a summary of the departmental provisional base budget for 2002/2003 as submitted to, and subsequently reviewed by, the Director of Finance.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the contents of the Report for its interest at this stage in the budget process; and

    to note that more detailed Reports with specific recommendations would be brought forward later in the revenue budget cycle.

4. 2001/205 FINANCIAL PLAN AND 2002/2003 CAPITAL BUDGET

There was submitted Report No 1320/01 by the Director of Finance advising the Committee of the latest position with regard to the preparation of the 2001/2005 Financial Plan (incorporating the 2002/2003 capital budget) for the Education Department. Appended to the Report were the departmental Financial Plan submissions for 2001/2005 as returned to the Director of Finance and subsequently reviewed by the Capital Budget Sub-Group.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the contents of the Report for its interest at this stage in the Financial Plan process; and
  2. to note that more detailed Reports with specific recommendations would be brought forward later in the Financial Plan cycle.

5. SECONDARY SCHOOLS ­ ICT INFRASTRUCTURE REQUIREMENTS

With reference to Article 7 of the minute of meeting of the Education Committee of 24 April 2001 and Article 18 of the minute of meeting of the Finance and Information Technology Committee of 1 May 2001, there was submitted Joint Report No 1330/01 by the Director of Education and the Director of Information Technology indicating that there was a requirement to upgrade existing computer file servers in the eight secondary schools in Angus in order to meet the continuing growth in the use of the Internet and improve network performance. The Report recommended the procurement of an additional six caching file servers and eight new Phoenix file servers for Angus secondary schools.

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

6. BEST VALUE SERVICE REVIEW ­ SCHOOL TRANSPORT UPDATE

With reference to Article 5 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 25 January 2000, there was submitted Joint Report No 1329/01 by the Director of Education and the Director of Planning and Transport outlining in the Appendix, the progress made in implementing the Best Value Improvement Plan in respect of school transport. The Report concluded that, whilst the service had improved, further improvements could be made to the procedure in relation, in particular, to communication with parents and schools.

The Report also reminded the Committee of the continued review, by the Best Value Member/Officer Group, of the implementation of Best Value initiatives, including Service Reviews.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the contents 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.

7. PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP (Ppp)

With reference to Article 11 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 5 June 2001, there was submitted Report No 1321/01 by the Director of Education describing progress to date in developing an Outline Business Case for a Public Private Partnership (Ppp) project to improve school provision in the Burghs of Forfar and Carnoustie. The Report detailed various deadlines for submitting an Outline Business Case to the Scottish Executive and recommended that the submission be delayed to September 2002 to undertake public consultation prior to a final decision being taken on the possible options.

Having heard Councillor Glennis Middleton, one of the local members, welcome the proposed public consultation, the Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the progress which had been made in progressing an Outline Business Case for a possible Ppp project; and
  2. to instruct the Director of Education to undertake public consultations with a view to this Committee giving further consideration as to whether to submit a Ppp bid (and if so, which preferred option to include within that bid) by the September 2002 deadline.

8. DALE SCHOOL TRUST

With reference to Article 5 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 21 August 2001, there was submitted Report No 1322/01 by the Director of Law and Administration indicating that following the publication of the proposed Scheme for the re-organisation of the Dale School Trust, no objections or amendments had been received within the time limit. Accordingly, the Committee was asked to recommend that the Council resolve to make the Scheme and authorise the signing by the Director of Law and Administration.

The Committee agreed to recommend that the Council resolve:-

  1. to make the Scheme in terms of the draft Scheme circulated previously; and
  2. to authorise the Director of Law and Administration to sign the Scheme on behalf of Angus Council.

Councillor Nield declared an interest in items 9 and 10 below.

9. "SCOTTISH QUALIFICATIONS ­ DELIVERING SUCCESS" ­ CONSULTATION ON THE SCOTTISH QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY BILL ­ RESPONSE TO SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE CONSULTATION DOCUMENT

With reference to Article 1 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 22 August 2000, there was submitted Report No 1323/01 by the Director of Education bringing to the attention of the Committee, the Scottish Executive proposals for the reform of the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) set out in the Scottish Executive Consultation Document entitled "Scottish Qualifications ­ Delivering Success".

The Report sought the Committee's approval of the response provided in Section 5 and concluded that the document had taken account of continuing dialogue with education authorities as well as the outcomes of other reviews set up in the wake of the Diet 2000 crisis. Further, the proposals contained in the document were likely to lead to sustainable improvement in the operation of SQA and in the delivery of an effective national qualifications framework and related assessment system.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the proposals for the reform of SQA outlined in "Scottish Qualifications ­ Delivering Success", a copy of which had been placed in the Members' Lounge; and
  2. to approve Section 5 of the Report as the Council's response to the Consultation Document and authorise the Director of Education to reply to the Scottish Executive by the deadline of 23 November 2001.

10. EDUCATION (DISABILITY STRATEGIES AND PUPILS' RECORDS) (SCOTLAND) BILL: CONSULTATION PAPER

There was submitted Report No 1324/01 by the Director of Education advising the Committee of the Scottish Executive's proposals for a draft Bill to provide for new legislation in two aspects of educational provision, namely, (a) the duty to plan for access to school buildings and the provision of a full educational curriculum for pupils with disabilities; and (b) the right of parents to have access to their children's school records.

The Report sought the Committee's approval of the response provided in Section 4 and concluded that the draft Bill should be welcomed as it complemented the provision made in earlier legislation for children with special educational needs. In addition, the thrust of the new proposals would support the Council's existing policy for the development of localised provision. However, it was hoped that funds from Central Government would continue to be provided in order to assist the Council to meet the rising demand from parents for the creation of high quality, accessible, local services.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the terms of the Report; and
  2. to approve Section 4 of the Report as the Council's response to the draft legislation and authorise the Director of Education to reply to the Scottish Executive by the deadline of 22 November 2001.

11. THE DRAFT STANDARD FOR FULL REGISTRATION: RESPONSE TO SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE/GTC SCOTLAND CONSULTATION DOCUMENT

There was submitted Report No 1332/01 by the Director of Education bringing to the attention of the Committee, an officer response to a Joint Consultation Paper produced by the Scottish Executive and General Teaching Council (GTC) Scotland in which views were sought on a Draft Standard For Full Registration of teachers with the General Teaching Council for Scotland, a copy of which had been placed in the Members' Lounge.

The Report concluded that, whilst the officer response, set out in the Appendix to the Report, proposed a number of detailed technical amendments to the Consultation Document, the general thrust of the proposed Standard would be welcomed. The need for a standard which would support the consistent and effective management of probationer teachers was greater in light of the decision within the national McCrone Agreement to guarantee a one year training contract for probationer teachers and to limit the probationary period to one year.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the terms of the officer response to the Consultation Document set out in the Appendix to the Report; and
  2. to approve the officer response submitted to the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

12. LEARNING WITH CARE: THE EDUCATION OF CHILDREN LOOKED AFTER AWAY FROM HOME BY LOCAL AUTHORITIES

With reference to Article 12 of the minute of meeting of the Social Work Committee of 13 November 2001, there was submitted Joint Report No 1291/01 by the Director of Education and the Director of Social Work advising the Committee of the work which had been undertaken by officers of the Education and Social Work Departments in respect of a Scottish Executive Report produced by HM Inspectors of Schools and the Social Work Services Inspectorate entitled "Learning with Care: The Education of Children Looked After Away from Home by Local Authorities".

The Executive's Report concluded that the education of looked after children was not as good as it should be and set out nine specific recommendations which all local authorities were required to address. The actions required to implement these nine key recommendations effectively in Angus were detailed in an Appendix to the Report.

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

13. REVIEW OF PRIMARY SCHOOL PROVISION ­ SMALL PRIMARY SCHOOLS

With reference to Article 11 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 14 October 1997, there was submitted Report No 1143/01 by the Director of Education reminding the Committee that the viability of the Council's primary schools was subject to ongoing review in terms of Best Value. The Report updated the Committee on current provision in the Council's smaller primary schools and sought re-affirmation from the Committee of the continuing need to maintain Glenisla, Lethnot and Tarfside Primary Schools. It also recommended further consideration of the future of Kilry Primary School.

Having heard various members on the criteria for viability of small primary schools in Angus, the Committee agreed:-

  1. to commend staff for their unstinting efforts in maintaining high standards of education in all the Council's schools;
  2. to note the viability of the overwhelming majority of the Council's schools;
  3. to re-affirm the criteria agreed in 1997 when considering the viability of particularly small schools;
  4. to re-affirm the belief that Glenisla, Lethnot and Tarfside Schools each served communities so remote that no one of these schools should be considered for closure other than in the event of it having to cater for an exceptionally small pupil roll;
  5. to note that, other than Lethnot Primary School (with a current roll of 18 primary pupils) and Tarfside Primary School (with a current roll of 16 primary pupils), there were only two schools in the current school session (2001/2002) with primary rolls of less than 20 pupils, namely Kilry and Pitkennedy Primary Schools;
  6. to note that Pitkennedy Primary School was currently undergoing a formal inspection by HM Inspector of Schools and that, in these circumstances, it would be unreasonable to consider (however tentatively) its viability, but to confirm its viability in the short term;
  7. to note the current roll of 13 pupils in Kilry Primary School and to authorise the Director of Education to enter into discussions with the whole school community of Kilry Primary School about future roll projections and possible future options; and
  8. to instruct the Director of Education to report back to the Committee on these discussions as soon as possible.

14. MONIFIETH HIGH SCHOOL

With reference to Article 7 of the minute of meeting of Angus Council of 16 December 1999, there was submitted Report No 1325/01 by the Director of Education describing the continuing concerns about possible future overcrowding in Monifieth High School, particularly in the longer term. The Report indicated that a significant proportion of the delineated area of Monifieth High School included an area outwith the Angus boundary and recommended that the Council should undertake a formal consultation exercise to enable the delineated area of Monifieth High School to be reduced over a period of time which would allow families of prospective pupils to be alerted to the proposed changes.

Having heard Councillor Nield in support of the Report, the Committee agreed:-

  1. to note that, notwithstanding efforts to restrict the pupil intake, the roll of Monifieth High School was continuing to rise, and the school was already having to operate at just above its notional capacity;
  2. to note that the delineated area of Monifieth High School continued to include an area outwith the boundaries of Angus Council;
  3. to instruct the Director of Education to undertake a formal consultation exercise in terms of the Education (Publication and Consultation, etc.) Regulations Scotland 1981 (as amended) on a proposal that that part of the delineated area of Monifieth High School which lay outwith the boundaries of Angus Council should be deleted from the delineated area of Monifieth High School with effect from 1 January 2009;
  4. to instruct the Director of Education to report back on the outcomes of the aforementioned consultation exercise; and
  5. to instruct the Director of Education, in the meantime, to liaise closely with the School Board and Head Teacher of Monifieth High School in order to ensure that parents of prospective pupils of Monifieth High School were aware of the potential for the school to become overcrowded and therefore of the high possibility that parental placing requests, in future, would be refused.

15. ARBROATH HIGH SCHOOL: BUILDING ADAPTATIONS

With reference to Article 8(a) of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 7 March 2000, there was submitted Joint Report No 1331/01 by the Director of Education and the Director of Property Services seeking approval to undertake a programme of development work in Arbroath High School to enhance provision for children with special educational needs, funding for which would be drawn from the Scottish Executive's New Community Schools Project (Phase III) and the Excellence Fund (Programme 10 ­ Inclusion).

The Report concluded that the development work, including the addition of two classrooms, a therapy room, a disabled toilet and a staff base, was necessary to provide an appropriate curriculum for a small and vulnerable group of children. The alternative would be to seek costly educational placements elsewhere outwith Angus which would be at odds with the Council's policy to promote inclusion.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed:-

  1. to note the contents of the Report which had been produced in the context of the Council's policy for the inclusion of pupils with special educational needs;
  2. to approve the plans for the development of additional facilities in Arbroath High School to meet the needs of pupils with specific and significant support requirements; and
  3. to approve, in consultation with the Director of Finance, the procurement of the project as outlined in Section 4 of the Report at an estimated cost of £140,000.

Councillor Myles declared an interest in the following item.

16. ANGUS COUNTRYSIDE INITIATIVE

With reference to Article 5 of the minute of meeting of the Economic Development Committee of 15 November 2001, there was submitted Joint Report No 1308/01 by the Chief Executive and the Director of Education advising the Committee of a request for financial assistance from the Angus Countryside Initiative to finance the employment of a part-time Project Officer from April 2002 to March 2004. The Report indicated that the Initiative had recently made an application to the Rural Challenge Fund and had requested that the Council contribute £1,000 in match funding towards the costs of employing the Project Officer when the current funding was completed in March 2002.

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

17. CENTRAL GRANTS TO NATIONAL ORGANISATIONS AND OTHER OUTSIDE BODIES

With reference to Article 3 of the minute of meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee of 7 May 1996, there was submitted Report No 1326/01 by the Director of Education recommending the award of grants above the level of £500 to five national organisations as detailed in the Appendix to the Report.

The Committee agreed to approve the award of grants of over £500, totalling £7,400, as detailed in the Appendix to the Report.

18. COMMUNITY EDUCATION SERVICE

(a) Revenue Grants to Voluntary Organisations 2001/2002

With reference to Article 3 of the minute of meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee of 7 May 1996, there was submitted Report No 1327/01 by the Director of Education detailing applications received from local voluntary organisations for Revenue Grants over £500 and making recommendations regarding the awards.

The Committee agreed to approve to award of Revenue Grants, totalling £16,780, as detailed in the Appendix to the Report.

(b) Adult Education Support Fund Grants to Voluntary Organisation 2001/2002

With reference to Article 10(b) of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 10 October 2000, there was submitted Report No 1328/01 by the Director of Education proposing grant aid from the Adult Education Support Fund to Adult Education Associations for 2001/2002. The Report set out the range of classes which had been offered by Adult Education Associations in the 2000/2001 programmes and made recommendations regarding grants to be awarded in 2001/2002.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the contents of the Report; and
  2. approve grant aid totalling £2,750 to the Adult Education Associations as set out in the Appendix to the Report.
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