Committee round-up - Education, Learning & Leisure 08.12.16

The final meeting of 2016 of the Education, Leisure and Learning Committee began with a minute’s silence held in memory of North-East MSP Alex Johnstone who passed away recently.

Statutory Consultation on the relocation of St Andrew’s School

Officers laid out the council’s plans to begin a statutory consultation on the relocation of St Andrew’s School at the new Inverurie Community Campus. Quality Improvement Manager, Anne-Marie Davies was on hand to answer questions from members who agreed that officers were to be commended for the engagement with staff and parents to date.

Members were reassured that if the proposed move goes ahead all children currently attending St Andrew’s, including out-of-network placements, would be able to continue their education at St Andrew’s.

It was agreed that a public meeting will take place at the start of February and that there will be opportunities for stakeholders to comment both in person and online.

Statutory Guidance on Gaelic Education

Members agreed the new draft guidance on Gaelic Education and it was noted that there are currently nine pupils accessing Gaelic education in Aberdeen.

Response to Scottish Government Governance Review

Andrew Griffiths, Head of Primary Education and Curriculum Development introduced Aberdeenshire Council’s draft response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on proposed changes to how education is delivered in Scotland.

Members were in agreement with the proposed response and a lively debate ensued with councillors agreeing that education should remain in local council control.

Councillors agreed that the final response to the government’s consultation would be sent to political group leaders before it is submitted and will be available on the council’s website.

Performance Reporting

Overall performance in Education, Learning and Leisure has been maintained with some improvements. Councillors noted that poverty across the region should be a concern given that it is currently at 11%. It was also noted that in some areas the figures are higher and that rural poverty can be a real problem. Members commended the work of staff across the region, noting that they can make a huge difference in outcomes for children.

Standards and Quality Report 2015/16

Director of Education & Children’s Services, Maria Walker introduced the Standards and Quality Report for 2015/16. All aspects of Education & Children’s Services were assessed and it was noted that in the future standards and quality reporting will be take place earlier in the calendar year due to Scottish Government legislation.

Chair of the committee, Councillor Alison Evison commended the work of staff across Aberdeenshire with regards to Looked After Children after a year-on-year leap from 73% to 90% of Looked After Children securing positive destinations at university, college, in employment or in additional training. The Young Persons’ Organising and Campaigning Group, a group of young people who have care experience, was also praised and shown to have had a significant impact on how staff and young people interact.

Councillors also noted that there has been an improvement across Aberdeenshire in closing the attainment gap between pupils from the most well-off and most disadvantaged backgrounds.

CLD Plan – One Year On

John Harding, Head of Lifelong Learning & Leisure introduced a report detailing the transformation in delivery of Community Learning and Development (CLD) over the last year. It was noted that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) has commended the good work of CLD in recent school inspections, including at the Gordon Schools in Huntly.

Grant Support for Culture, Sport and CLD

The committee was asked to agree the replacement of the Sustainability Grants scheme with a new Key Partner Core Funding Programme and to agree the Capacity Grants funding scheme for 2017 and 2018/19.

These grants will support the delivery of projects across Aberdeenshire and support local organisations in delivering council priorities such health and wellbeing, regeneration and lifelong learning.

Priority will be placed on four themes – achieving sporting or cultural excellence, reducing childhood obesity and inactivity, intergenerational work, and celebrating Doric, traditional music and North East culture.

After some debate it was agreed that 50% of available Capacity Grant funding would be spent in the four regeneration towns – Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Banff and Macduff.