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Education Committee

APPENDIX     to the minute of meeting of the Education Committee of 6 June 2000 (Article 2(b) refers)

MINUTE of MEETING of the JOINT CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE (TEACHERS) held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Monday 15 May 2000 at 3.30 pm.

Present: Authority Representatives

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

Teachers' Representatives

GRAEME KIDDIE, BRIAN McHARDY, ARTHUR PRITCHARD, ALICE McLEOD and ANNE TRUESDALE.

Apologies: LESLEY ANDERSON and JIM FALCONER.

1. APPOINTMENTS

(a) Convener

It was noted that under Paragraph 4(a) of the Constitution, the Convenership of the Joint Consultative Committee should rotate on an annual basis between the Convener of the Education Committee and the member appointed by those members representing the Trade Unions and Teachers Associations, with the Vice Convenership rotating on a similar basis.

Accordingly, the Convener of the Education Committee, Councillor Milne, assumed the chair.

Mr Graeme Kiddie was appointed Vice Convener.

(b) Teacher Representative

The Committee noted that Mr Peter Andrews had been appointed by the EIS to attend meetings in place of Anne Truesdale.

Members joined the Convener in thanking Anne Truesdale for her work on this Committee.

2. MINUTE OF PREVIOUS MEETING

The minute of meeting of this Committee of 9 February 2000 was submitted and approved as a correct record.

3. NOTE OF INAUGURAL MEETING OF PARENTAL SOUNDING BOARD

There was submitted and noted the Note of the Inaugural meeting of the Parental Sounding Board held on 19 April 2000.

4. EDUCATION SERVICE PLAN 2000/2001

There was submitted, for information, Report No 448/00 by the Director of Education which had been approved by the Education Committee on 25 April 2000. The Report advised on progress made in implementing the 1999/2000 Education Service Plan and informed of arrangements being made for the finalisation of the Education Service Plan 2000/2001.

The Committee agreed to note:-

  1. that the Director of Education had undertaken wide consultation on the draft 2000/2001 Education Service Plan;
  2. that Head Teachers were due to submit comments on the Plan by 26 May 2000; and
  3. that a further Report on the outcome of the consultative exercise would be submitted to the Education Committee on 6 June 2000.

5. EARLY EDUCATION IN ANGUS

With reference to Article 4 of the minute of previous meeting, Jan Nowak gave an update on the position with regard to early education in Angus. He reported that the options paper on transition to school from pre-school provision had been considered by EDAG on 22 February 2000 and also at a meeting of primary Head Teachers. The paper outlined three options, namely, the adoption of Angus Council devised materials, the adoption of national materials or the maintenance of the current system. The favoured option would make use of the pre printed national materials with enhancement to allow customisation of the software to make it more relevant to Angus.

It was proposed that a small Working Group be set up which would include two members of this Committee.

Arthur Pritchard suggested that teachers might support an initiative to enhance the software already available within Angus Council, provided this was done as part of an ICT staff development training initiative and that any change was ratified by the JCC.

The Committee agreed to note the position and that Peter Andrews and Arthur Pritchard be appointed as representatives on the Working Group.

6. TRANSFER OF INFORMATION

With reference to Article 5 of the minute of previous meeting, there was submitted, for information, Report No 453/00 by the Director of Education which had been approved by the Education Committee on 25 April 2000. The Report indicated that HMI had recently published a consultation document on a review of Assessment for pre-fives, and for pupils in the 5-14 age range. The Scottish CCC had also undertaken a consultation exercise on draft guidelines on the Structure and Balance of the 5-14 Curriculum. A short-life Working Group had been formed by Angus Council to consider the consultation documents. The responses prepared by the Working Group were appended to the Report.

Jim Anderson indicated that the Council was not as yet prepared to promote any particular way forward but sought further comments on responses prepared by the Working Group with a view to reaching a decision next session. He indicated that the options were to continue current provision for assessment, adopt the national "PASS" document or adopt Council devised assessment materials.

Arthur Pritchard expressed support in principle for ICT developments in assessment but expressed concern regarding the timescale for and workload implications of the introduction of a new computerised system. He stressed that all staff involved should be well trained and confident in ICT use, that information should be both meaningful and manageable.

Neil Logue identified an issue in relation to training of non-teaching staff to provide ICT support.

The Committee agreed that a further Working Group be established to take forward an effective assessment system and that this Committee be represented on the Working Group.

7. TOWARDS A SHARED VISION

There was submitted Report No 455/00 by the Director of Education which had been approved by the Education Committee on 25 April 2000. The Report set out an updated Vision Statement for the Education Service in Angus. The draft Vision Statement had formed the basis of an extensive consultation exercise with a wide range of stakeholders and a number of helpful and possible suggestions had emerged from the consultation with clear widespread support for the draft Statement.

Jim Anderson thanked members of the Committee for their comments on the earlier draft and indicated that the Vision Statement should in future inform the work of the education service and in particular any evaluation of that work.

The Committee agreed to note the position.

8. EXCELLENCE FUND

With reference to Article 9 of the minute of previous meeting, there was submitted Report No 259/00 by the Director of Education which was approved by the Education Committee on 7 March 2000. The Report referred to improvement plans submitted to the Scottish Executive for seven of the ten programmes of the Excellence Fund in 2000/2001. The improvement plans had been submitted to the Scottish Executive in order to comply with the required timescale. No updated plans had been sought for three of the programmes and the improvement plans for these aspects of the Excellence Fund were being maintained on a similar basis to arrangements for 1999/2000.

In response to a question from Brian McHardy on the Alternatives to Exclusion Programme Jim Anderson indicated that alternatives to exclusion initiatives had been introduced at Arbroath Academy, Arbroath High School, Forfar Academy and Webster's High School. The programme would be extended to Montrose Academy and Brechin High School in school session 2000/2001. Monifieth and Carnoustie High Schools would be brought on stream as soon as possible thereafter. He agreed that the temporary nature of the posts relating to 'ASPIRE' was not ideal and also stressed that the current programme was developmental with the hope that it would provide one way forward to help to address the problem of exclusion in the long-term. In response to a further question from Brian McHardy on the timescale for the extension of the project into Carnoustie and Monifieth, Jim Anderson stressed the need for a gradual approach but was encouraged that schools wanted to take the programme on board.

Thereafter Brian McHardy referred to the Study Support Programme and asked if an evaluation of this current programme had been carried out in Angus schools. Jim Anderson confirmed that an internal evaluation was being sought from head teachers by July 2000 and indicated that he would be happy to share the results of the evaluation with this Committee and with others as appropriate within Angus Council.

Arthur Pritchard referred to the Classroom Assistants Programme and sought early notification from Angus College with regard to Primary School Assistant staff training days.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the position; and
  2. to seek early notice for Angus schools of staff training days for Primary School Assistants.

9. NEW OPPORTUNITIES FUND

(a) Out of School Hours Learning

There was submitted by the Director of Education a letter dated 24 April 2000 which had been circulated to all Head Teachers. The letter set out a range of measures identified by the New Opportunities Fund Steering Group to advance the preparation of a strategic bid for funding in respect of out of school hours learning. An information pack on the development of a project proposal was appended to the letter.

Jim Anderson stressed that project proposals should be both new and sustainable. Brian McHardy and Arthur Pritchard suggested that the bidding process in respect of challenge funding may not be the best way of allocating funding to schools. However, they encouraged staff to be creative in identifying projects to meet the funding criteria.

Following discussion, the Committee agreed that the Director of Education should remind Head Teachers that the final date for submission of proposals was 20 June 2000.

(b) ICT Training for Teachers and Librarians

There was submitted by the Director of Education a draft Report on ICT training for primary teachers and librarians. The draft Report concluded that good progress had been made in developing ICT provisions in Angus primary schools. However, it was important that progress be built upon to provide teachers with the skills and confidence to use technology effectively, both for learning and teaching and for administrative purposes. An Action Plan outlining developments was being compiled for the period until the end of academic session 2000/2001.

Graeme Kiddie referred to teacher workloads in connection with the SCET model of ICT training and sought recognition of the workload in terms of personal action plans.

Having heard Craig Clement on staff time involved in ICT training, the Committee noted that staff undertaking ICT training would be given appropriate recognition in terms of individual staff development time.

10. COUNCIL'S PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL SCHEME

Arthur Pritchard referred to the annual appraisals to be carried out on non-teaching staff as part of the Council's Performance Appraisal Scheme. He expressed concern regarding the workload involved for appraisers in carrying out annual appraisals and sought the support of the Committee to introduce a three yearly cycle for appraisal of non-teaching staff which would be more appropriate in terms of workloads and timescale.

Councillor Milne advised that any decision to change the timescale of non-teaching staff appraisals would require to be made at corporate level.

The Committee agreed that the Director of Education should initiate corporate discussion ­ initially by alerting the Director of Personnel to the concerns raised by teachers' representatives.

11. VALUING STAFF ­ CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

With reference to Article 6 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 31 May 1999, there was submitted by the Director of Education a "VIEW" Article of 6 March 2000 entitled "Valuing Staff ­ Corporate Communications and Information". The Article indicated that the employee survey held in March 1998 had revealed a level of dissatisfaction with internal communications. The Council had commissioned the company Vector to undertake a review of internal communications. The results of that review had indicated that, whilst it was not necessary to undertake any major procedural change in the communication process or systems, improvements should be made.

Jim Anderson indicated that he intended to issue relevant extracts from the Review Document to Head Teachers and representatives on this Committee in order to seek their views on specific issues in relation to communication. He had recently attended meetings of Head Teachers which had given him the opportunity to hear their views.

Brian McHardy reminded the Committee that there were already consultative mechanisms within schools which, if operated successfully, could improve internal communications and help members of staff to feel valued.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note that a range of communication strategies would be required to address the communication issues; and

  1. that the Director of Education should issue, for comment, extracts from the final Review Document to Head Teachers and members of this Committee.
  2. that opportunities should be taken to further remind Head Teachers of the existence and potential value of school based consultative mechanisms.

12. AGE AND STAGE RESTRICTIONS AT STANDARD GRADE AND HIGHER - DRAFT GUIDELINES FOR SCHOOLS

There was submitted by the Director of Education draft Guidelines for Schools on Age and Stage Restrictions at Standard Grade and Higher. The draft Guidelines referred to the SOEID consultation paper which had been issued in August 1998 and indicated that the Government preferred option was a limited relaxation of age and stage restrictions by one year at both Standard Grade and Higher. This option allowed for Standard Grade examinations at all levels to be undertaken by individual pupils in S3. It also allowed for the external assessment elements of Higher Still courses to be undertaken in S4. A Government press release in March 1999 confirmed that the preferred option was being adopted.

Discussions with secondary Head Teachers had indicated limited enthusiasm for any radical changes to previous practices. The Council's Secondary Timetabling Group had identified issues to be addressed in relation to course choice, curricular guidance and curriculum planning and timetabling. Jim Anderson advised that to date only one school in Angus had made any use of the relaxation now offered, and then in ways which had little to do with "fast tracking."

Graeme Kiddie referred to paragraph 4.1 of the draft Guidelines which indicated that some autonomy had been advocated for schools and stressed the need for Head Teachers to have due regard for the social and emotional needs of the child, particularly if considering "fast tracking".

Following discussion, the Committee agreed that the Guidelines:-

  1. include reference to the need for education of the "whole" child;
  2. include reference to financial implications relating to groups of pupils to be placed on a fast track programme; and
  3. be amended at paragraph 4.2 as follows:-

"It will also be desirable for each school to be aware of developments in neighbouring Angus schools. Head Teachers will therefore be requested to incorporate a brief summary of any proposed steps to be taken to relax age and stage restrictions as part of their annual reports ­ to be shared with the Director of Education and colleagues in other Angus schools prior to implementation."

13. VIOLENCE AND AGGRESSION TO STAFF (DECEMBER 1999 TO MARCH 2000)

With reference to Article 10 of the minute of previous meeting, there was submitted Report No 30/00 by the Director of Education giving information about 8 cases involving secondary pupils, 5 cases involving primary school pupils (one pupil having been involved in all five of these cases) and one case relating to the Compass Project, all relating to violence and/or aggression to staff which had occurred during the period December 1999 to March 2000.

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

  1. the nature of the incidents;
  2. that the boy involved in the five cases had been diagnosed as having behavioural difficulties and had been referred as appropriate; and
  3. that the Director of Education would consider ways in which individual members of staff could receive acknowledgement of receipt of reports on any assaults perpetrated on them personally.

14. PROGRAMME OF MEETINGS

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

Monday 18 September 2000 (agenda setting meeting Monday 4 September 2000 at 4.00 pm)

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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