Education and Children's Services Committee round up - 31 August 2017

Primary school staffing arrangements, an analysis of social work service performance and a review of additional support for learning were among matters discussed at the latest meeting of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee. Committee requests report into sanitary products 

The meeting began with a motion presented by Cllr Alison Evison requesting that sanitary products are made more readily available within Aberdeenshire schools for those pupils who need them. 

Committee members agreed with the motion’s sentiment but wanted to know the scale of the problem. 

The Committee Chair, Cllr Gillian Owen, said she had carried out anecdotal research within her ward but said an analysis needed to be undertaken throughout Aberdeenshire.  

Committee members agreed for a report to be brought to a future meeting to clarify how the Council can make sanitary products more accessible for pupils wishing to use them. 

Assessment of social work service discussed 

The committee praised the work carried out by staff in the service over the last year, noting that considerable challenges had been overcome.

A report before the committee gave a list of performance indicators on how sections within the service had performed over the previous year. 

The committee agreed to make recommendations to Full Council. 

Review into strategy for students with additional support needs agreed 

A report before the committee outlined the local, regional and national picture of how children living in Aberdeenshire and Scotland who require additional assistance will receive the support they need. 

This assistance includes an audit of each school building to check if they are accessible, autism/dyslexia friendly and nurturing. 

Director of Education and Children’s Services, Maria Walker, described the review as containing the biggest challenges in education for 40 years. 

Members asked whether parents would know if things were to go wrong and asked whether the role of the Pupil Support Assistant could be developed. 

The committee approved the programme of work outlined in the report. 

Primary school staffing arrangements clarified 
Members of the committee considered giving Head Teachers greater say in how Visiting Specialist Teachers (VSTs) are used at primary schools. 

Some councillors expressed concerns over whether or not the VSTs would agree to the proposals and fears over an uncertain future. 

Another member explained that staffing was the prerogative of the Director of Education and Children’s Services and that committee members were not being asked the make a decision but merely to note the proposal. 

There was then a discussion about whether the plans needed to be discussed at a future meeting before it was agreed that they will be considered again at the December committee. 

Committee requests more information about digital learning tool 

Committee members agreed they should hold a special session about digital learning classroom aid Glow and they should receive more information about it at a subsequent meeting. 

The Audit Committee referred this item to the Education and Children’s Services Committee after a meeting on 21 June. 

Glow is a national intranet which allows students to share information and best practice and is funded in part by the Scottish Government. 

Committee members noted Glow’s importance to digital learning within schools across Aberdeenshire.

Other matters

• The committee thanked head teachers, teachers, pupils and parents for the excellent exam results in Aberdeenshire, which were publicised in August.
• Members of the committee agreed the name and the tartan for two pipe bands; one band for competitions called the Aberdeenshire Schools Pipe Band and one which will support the Aberdeenshire Provost by performing at civic events, the band will be known as the Provost of Aberdeenshire’s School Pipe Band.
• The committee agreed to ensure legislative requirements of the study of Gaelic education and language were met.  
• Committee members approved the council’s strategy to deliver a national plan which aims to achieve excellence and equity in schools.
• The committee also agreed various budgetary adjustments when monitoring the service’s finances.
• The committee agreed to receive an update report about the mothballing of Strachan Primary School at the next committee meeting.
• The full public reports considered by the committee can be found via http://committees.aberdeenshire.gov.uk