Committee round-up: Education and Children's Services 17.05.18

Views about Strachan School, an update about the situation at Longhaven School and an upcoming consultation involving the Northern Alliance were among the items discussed at the latest Education and Children’s Services Committee on May 17.

Northern Alliance consultation considered

Interim Director of Education and Children’s Services Robert Driscoll introduced the report to the committee members. The consultation will be across the Northern Alliance area of north and north-east Scotland and will involve head teachers, staff, parents and young people. The information will be fed back to the Scottish Government to improve attainment, particularly numeracy and literacy; to close the gap between the most and least disadvantaged children; to improve children’s health and wellbeing and to help young people find jobs after leaving school.

Cllr Alison Evison said targets needed to be more ambitious and that jargon contained in the report needed to be clarified.

Both Cllr Leigh Wilson and Cllr Sarah Dickinson said attention needed to be paid to children who identify as LGTB. Cllr Wilson called for greater monitoring whilst Cllr Dickinson said work needed to be carried out with primary schools as children were identifying as LGTB earlier.

The members went on to agree the recommendations outlined in the report.

Future of Strachan School discussed

A report proposing a consultation process in the Strachan community about what they would like to see happen with the vacant school was brought before the committee
 
Cllr Evison sought assurances that ideas put to the community will also come before the committee.

Cllr Martin Ford said a solution had to be found quickly as the empty building is not currently fulfilling its purpose, as it is not educating children.

Cllr Moira Ingelby supported the recommendations with heavy heart, as one of the options is to close the school, but said the process is always driven by the educational benefit to the children.

The recommendations contained in the report were approved by the committee members.

Committee given update on Longhaven School

Vincent Docherty introduced the report updating the committee about Longhaven School, which is currently closed due to staff vacancies.
Cllr Evison said that the process of moving the pupils to nearby schools during Easter due to a shortage of teaching staff was crucial; as the needs of the children were the number one consideration.

She called for a period of reflection to occur so that a similar situation in the future does not arise.

Vincent Docherty confirmed that there are currently no applicants for the head teacher and teacher vacancies, despite the roles being advertised three times.

Cllr Ford said the council needs more teachers to prevent the same circumstances from happening at another school. He said that as there are a number of small schools in Aberdeenshire this is not the last time pupils will need to be placed in alternative schools due to a shortage of teachers.

The committee members approved the recommendations contained in the report.

Other matters

• The committee agreed for a seminar to be held to consider a report about the council plan
• Members of the committee considered performance figures
• The committee discussed proposals about internal procedures regarding the Audit Committee
• The full public papers brought before the committee can be found via http://committees.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/committees.aspx?commid=494&meetid=19039.