Committee round-up: Education and Children's Services 7.12.17

Primary school staffing arrangements, catchment areas for schools in Stonehaven and a presentation by members of the Scottish Youth Parliament were among the items discussed at the latest Education and Children's Services Committee on December 7.

Issues affecting young people raised

The meeting began with a minute's silence out of respect to Dr Ian Findlay who recently passed away. He served on the committee for more than ten years as a religious representative. The committee has three religious representatives from the Catholic Church, Church of Scotland and other faiths.

Then three members of the Scottish Youth Parliament from three Aberdeenshire schools made a presentation to the committee about the role of the Scottish Youth Parliament; the year-long Right Here, Right Now campaign to raise awareness of issues among young people and the Year of the Young Person 2018.

The committee members congratulated the young people on their presentation. They asked them how the committee could help them. Offers of assistance included sending them agendas in advance so they can raise issues that matter to young people; encouraging more young people to stand for election to community councils and greater involvement with Area Committees.

Review into Stonehaven school catchment areas discussed

A report before the committee outlined proposed changes to catchment areas for three primary schools in Stonehaven. 

Members praised the head teacher and teachers at Dunnottar School for delivering an excellent standard of education in a building that needs updating. Cllr Charles Buchan called for a list of rural schools which require improvements. 

The committee agreed the recommendations set out in the report.

Primary school staffing arrangements considered

Members of the committee considered giving Head Teachers greater say in how Visiting Specialist Teachers are used in primary schools.

Concerns were expressed about how the proposals would impact on smaller rural schools; whether parents’ views are being taken into account and whether teachers’ skills can be retained. The Council’s Director of Education, Maria Walker, stressed Head Teachers would have the final say on how staff are deployed. 

Members agreed to note the update contained in the report and agreed the item will be discussed at the committee on Thursday, February 1 2018.

Regional skills strategy debated

A strategy outlining the challenges and opportunities to developing skills within Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen was considered by members.

Members were worried the strategy focussed too heavily on the oil and gas industry; that the committee was being asked to approve an item out with its responsibility; more could be done to communicate with hard to reach groups and more could be done to address all types of gender imbalance.

The committee agreed to note the strategy; endorse the elements that fall under the committee’s remit and seek continued engagement with Skills Development Scotland.

Other matters

• Committee members agreed the recommendations in a report regarding primary school procurement.
• Recommendations about delegated powers to approve budget transfers were agreed by the committee.
• The committee approved recommendations regarding quarterly performance exception.
• The full public reports considered by the committee can be found via