Committee round up: Education and Children's Services 12.10.17

Primary school capacity, achievement levels and an analysis of attainment were among the issues discussed at the latest meeting of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee. 

The meeting began with the Committee wishing the Chair, Cllr Gillian Owen, a speedy recovery after a short period in hospital. The Vice Chair, Cllr Mark Findlater, who acted as Chair during the meeting, then mentioned a number of successes regarding Education and Children’s Services since the last meeting. These included HRH the Duchess of Rothesay joining in the Harvest Day festivities at Aboyne Academy; the DELITE programme winning the Excellence Award at the COSLA Excellence Awards 2017; the commemoration event to mark the closure of Market Place School in Inverurie and the 20th anniversary celebrations at Macduff Marine Aquarium, which are due to take place at the end of October. 

Attainment analysis considered
A report into S4, S5, and S6 exam results, where the data and analysis was provided by the Scottish Government, was considered by Members. 

Cllr Martin Ford suggested that rather than analysing the previous year that an evaluation in the next report be carried out of the previous four years so that the committee could see whether or not the council’s policies aiming to close the attainment gap were working. 

Cllr Alison Evison proposed an amendment to recognise and congratulate everyone involved in supporting what young people, their parents, carers, teachers and wider children’s services are doing to close the attainment gap. 

The committee agreed with Cllr Evison’s amendment and the other three recommendations were approved.
 
Achievement levels discussed
The committee then considered statistics presented in an annual report carried out by the Scottish Government. 

Committee members asked the council officers presenting the report how the information was going to be used. 

Education Support Officer, Gordon Lennon, said the data would give head teachers and teachers another tool they can use in obtaining an overview of how different levels within a school are performing. 

Primary school classroom sizes debated 

Recommendations by the Scottish Government about primary school classroom sizes were then evaluated by committee members. 

The report also asked committee members to allow a new review into primary school classroom sizes as the last audit occurred in 2013. 

A number of committee members expressed concerns not enough consultation had taken place; whilst other members wanted a clear definition of what temporary meant as some of the annexes at schools have been around for 30 years or more. 

Cllr Mark Ford asked whether the Scottish Government was demanding that its recommendations be implemented or whether there was the possibility of discussing them. He said: “We might decide having more space is a priority for Aberdeenshire. We might decide to not collect bins instead. I don’t feel the need to make a change but I accept there are pressures upon us.” 

Chair Cllr Mark Findlater suggested approving the commencement of the review but the discussions around the method in which classroom sizes are measured be deferred until the December committee meeting. 

Members then discussed whether this proposal gave an adequate amount of consultation. The committee decided to allow the review to begin and to announce the changes to parent council groups. The recommendation on the proposed methods was not agreed.

Other matters 

• The committee agreed recommendations on quarterly performance figures.
• The full public reports of the committee can be found via http://committees.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/