Updates from Education Committee

1+2 Languages Initiative

Members of the Education and Children’s Services Committee were today given an update on the 1+2 Language Initiative in schools across Aberdeenshire.

The report Language Learning in Scotland: a 1+2 Approach tasks local authorities and schools with ensuring that all children learn two languages in addition to their mother tongue. The Report recommends that all learners should have access to modern language learning from P1 onwards by 2020

No longer are teachers encouraged to teach language topic by topic; instead they are expected to use everyday opportunities to teach the target language and continue to integrate language learning and reinforcement into a variety of curricular areas. Today members were updated on the work taking place to ensure that staff in schools have the skills and support to embed this way of learning. Teachers get access to resources and secondary language assistants with a variety of native tongues have been in academies up to S3. Doric is an integral part of the initiative and continues to be one of the most important parts of developing a range of languages across our school estate.

Meanwhile, members were updated on the progress of the Confucius Hub programme. Officially opened in June 2016, the Aberdeenshire Confucius Hub involves two teachers from China who are able to support and develop Mandarin language opportunities in the Ellon and Stonehaven networks. A further bid has been made to establish a Primary Confucius Hub at New Pitsligo & St. John’s School in Mintlaw cluster further extending access to Mandarin learning in Aberdeenshire. he 1+2 initiative continues.

Catering Services Update

Members went on to debate a further report into school catering provision.

Uptake of primary school means in Aberdeenshire is one of the highest in Scotland, a fact broadly credited to the standard and range of meals on offer.

The roll-out of online payments and classroom ordering for school lunches was completed in primary and special schools in June and has received very positive feedback, with 95% of school meal income in primaries being completed online.

Committee was updated on plans to increase the cost of a school meal to £2.20 from August 2017, from the current £2.15. In Academies a % equivalent to the 5p increase in primaries will be added across the product range.

Committee was also told that it has just recently been confirmed that the service has retained its silver “Food For Life” award.

Stonehaven and Blairs re-zoning consultation launch

Committee today agreed to hold two consultation into re-zoning a number of communities and schools around the Stonehaven area.

The re-zoning consultation will be targeted at the communities of Arduthie, Dunnottar and Mill O’Forrest schools in Stonehaven and the residents at the Blairs housing development.

At present, the majority of new housing being built in Stonehaven is zoned to Dunottar School, which is over capacity already and not suitable for further expansion. A re-zoning of the entire primary estate in Stonehaven will allow future growth to be managed more appropriately.

Meanwhile, communities will also be asked for their views on the zoning of secondary pupils who live in the Blairs development on the South Deeside Road. In June 2015 Aberdeen City Council ruled that pupils would no longer be entitled to attend Cults Academy. This consultation will seek responses on including those pupils in the Stonehaven network, which would result in them attending Mackie Academy.

The full consultation is now set to get underway at the end of June and communities have until the end of September to give their views. During the process there will be a number of meetings with communities, elected members and groups.

A further report will be discussed by committee once this is complete and before any decision is taken.

Chair of the committee Cllr Gillian Owen said: “It is imperative that we make sure that people have sufficient time to give us their views. The consultation period has been extended to allow for the summer holidays and still ensure people have every chance to give their views. Committee was also reassured by the plans laid out for public meetings on this significant piece of work.”