IRVINE, 14 December 2010 - At a Meeting of the Education Executive of North Ayrshire Council at 1.00 p.m.
John Bell, Tom Barr, Margaret McDougall, Gordon McConnell, Very Reverend Matthew Canon McManus, Peter McNamara, David O'Neill and Gordon Smith.
E. Murray, Chief Executive; C. Kirk, Corporate Director, M. Docherty, Head of Service (Education), M. Armstrong, Head of Service (Logistics and Infrastructure) and S. Storrie, Project Manager (Education and Skills): H. Hair, Principal Accountant (Finance and Infrastructure); J. Montgomery, General Manager, Policy and Service Reform, K. Dyson, Communications Officer and P. Shiach, Committee Services Officer (Chief Executive's Service
Also In Attendance
B. McNaught, Headteacher, O. Scott, Depute and S. Duff Acting Depute (Garnock Academy).
Councillor Bell in the Chair.
Apologies for Absence
Reverend David Karoon and John Reid.
1. Declarations of Interest
There were no declarations of interest by members in terms of Standing Order 16.
The Minutes of the previous meeting of the Education Executive held on 2 November 2010 were signed in accordance with paragraph 7(1) of Schedule 7 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973.
3. Outcome of the Consultation on the Proposed Closure of John Galt Primary School
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Education and Skills) on the outcome of the formal consultation on the proposal to close John Galt Primary School.
On 10 August 2010, the Education Executive agreed to issue a consultation paper on the future of John Galt Primary School to all interested parties.
Consultation documents were subsequently issued, and meetings of parents arranged. Discussions took place with the relevant Parent Councils, staff and pupils. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) were invited to attend a meeting of parents and conducted their own investigations. Copies of the consultation documents accompanied the report.
Details of the outcome of the consultation process were contained in Appendix 1 to the report, along with the outcome of the views expressed by all interested parties. In line with the requirements of the terms of the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010 a report was provided by HMIE. HMIE indicated that overall the Council had presented a clear case for the benefits likely to accrue to the wider educational community from the savings to be made by the proposed closure, and that the extended schools will be more likely to operate nearer to full capacity for longer. In the larger schools there will be less need for composite classes, more flexibility in staff deployment and greater access to specialist support for children where required. HMIE noted three action points that the Council should take into account in proceeding with the proposed closure of John Galt Primary:
Clarify its plans for the extensions to Woodlands and Castlepark Primary Schools;
Continue to engage with children and their parents, ensuring that all relevant aspects of the proposal are fully explained, and
Provide appropriate support for staff though the transitional period.
The Education Executive sought, and received, clarification on a number of issues, including: -
assurances that the new school will be completed to allow rezoning of the John Galt Primary catchment area to Castlepark, Annick or Woodlands Primary Schools in August 2013;
the opportunity for prospective pupils to visit the school prior to their date of entry, and
the separation of the PE facilities and dining areas in Castlepark Primary.
The Education Executive agreed to approve that (a) following the end of school session in June 2013 the provision of education at John Galt Primary School is discontinued; (b) the appropriate arrangements for rezoning the catchment area are made as detailed in section 3 of the report and the attached consultation documents; (c) Castlepark Primary School is extended to accommodate additional children from John Galt Primary School and projected house building; (d) Woodlands Primary School is extended to accommodate additional children from John Galt Primary School and Nursery and projected house building; and (e) the existing Castlepark Community Nursery is accommodated in a new building within the campus of an extended Castlepark Primary School.
4. Outcome of the Consultation on the Proposed Closure of Broomlands, Fencedyke and Towerlands Primary Schools
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Education and Skills) on the proposed closure of Broomlands, Fencedyke and Towerlands Primary Schools.
On 10 August 2010, the Education Executive agreed to issue a consultation paper on the future of Broomlands, Fencedyke and Towerlands Primary Schools to all interested parties.
Consultation documents were subsequently issued, and meetings of parents arranged. Discussions took place with the relevant Parent Councils, staff and pupils. HMIE were invited to attend a meeting of parents and conducted their own investigations. Copies of the consultation documents accompanied the report.
Details of the outcome of the consultation process were contained in Appendix 1 to the report, and the outcome of the views expressed by all interested parties. In line with the requirements of the terms of the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010 a report was provided by HMIE. HMIE indicated that children who are currently in each of the three schools, or who would attend in future years, are likely to benefit from the proposed changes. Children should find their education enhanced by a modern, purpose-built campus, a larger peer group and a broader range of skills among staff. Other benefits would include the provision of better facilities for delivering an appropriate curriculum and increased opportunities for pupils including a wider range of curricular activities and greater flexibility in grouping children and in deploying staff to meet their needs. HMIE requested that the Council address the following:
Concerns relating to safe routes to school for children and other issues relating to the building of the new school on the proposed site, particularly in relation to traffic management and parking, and
That the Council consider how to continue to consult with parents/carers of all children who will be affected by this proposal. The needs of children with hearing impairment should also be considered.
The Education Executive sought, and received, clarification on a number of issues in terms of the report, including:-
The standardisation of ECO awards and flags currently attained within the three schools;
Nursery provision within the proposed new school;
Sports provision to incorporate appropriate provision for the wider community, and
Pupil input into the design of the proposed new school.
The Education Executive agreed to approve that at the end of school session in June 2014 the provision of education at Broomlands, Fencedyke and Towerlands Primary Schools is discontinued and pupils transfer to a new school, as detailed in the report and supporting documents.
5. HMIE Consultation on School Improvement Framework
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Education and Skills) seeking approval of a response to the consultation on HMIE school Improvement Framework.
HM Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) made changes to the way in which it inspects schools in 2008 and is now consulting on the effectiveness of these changes and their future development.
HMIE inspects schools in North Ayrshire as part of a national sample of educational provision. Since 2008, inspections have been characterised by a shorter and more focussed look at Quality Indicators that demonstrate improved outcomes for learners, greater cognisance of schools' own self-evaluation, increased dialogue and a more proportionate approach, which can lead to inspectors disengaging from inspection activity and taking on a more supportive, consultative role to assist schools in improving their practices.
HMIE's review of the inspection process is in line with the Crerar Review (2007) which made recommendations in terms of reducing levels of external scrutiny. These require local authorities and HMIE to share information, and have a common understanding of areas where practice could be encouraged and improved through intervention.
The consultation paper was structured around the undernoted areas, as contained within Appendix A to the report:
Better use of information on schools and centres to make sure inspections are carried out where it really matters;
Continue to inspect where it really matters;
Greater emphasis on getting everyone involved;
Increasing staff involvement in inspection;
Clearer, more assessable reports, and
Shorter period of notice.
The detailed response to the consultation document was contained in Appendix B to the report.
The Education Executive sought, and received, clarification on the implications of HMIE's proposed changes for the Council's internal quality assurance process
The Education Executive agreed to approve the response for submission to HMIE.
6. Consultation Proposals Arising from the Garnock Campus Project
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Education and Skills) seeking approval to issue consultation documents on the proposals arising from the Garnock Campus Project.
At its meeting on 2 November 2010, the Education Executive agreed
(a) that draft Statutory Consultation documentation be prepared on: -
the amalgamation of Glengarnock and Moorpark Primary Schools, and
the proposed relocation of Garnock Academy, Moorpark and Glengarnock Primary Schools to a new site, and
(b) that the sites noted in the main report, together with a combination of sites 4 and 11 are further assessed in terms of affordability and legal implications, and
(c) that options are considered to address the affordability gap.
Further to the agreement of the proposals being taken to public consultation, early engagement with parents and staff has taken place in the form of meetings with Parent Council representatives and staff of each of the schools affected.
The consultation documents propose the closure of (a) Moorpark and Glengarnock Primary Schools in June 2015 and their pupils transferred to a new site still to be agreed, and (b) Garnock Academy in June 2015, and a new school be built covering the catchment areas to a new site still to be agreed.
In terms of the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010, a range of relevant consultees must be consulted on these proposals. A full list of consultees was contained within the consultation document.
Written representations on the proposals contained within the document are invited by 24 February 2011. Thereafter comments received during the consultation period will be submitted to HMIE for a four week period. Any feedback received following publication of the report on the outcome of the consultation will be presented to the Education Executive for a final decision.
In terms of site selection, the report indicated that the four short-listed sites for the proposed campus, sites 2,7,10 and 12 were being evaluated in terms of their viability in respect of the legal process, planning, programme issues and site acquisition issues. The early preferred sites were sites 7 and 10, both located in the South Lochshore area.
In terms of affordability, the report indicated that Scottish Futures Trust funding for the building of the new Garnock Academy had been set at £18.8 million, available no earlier than 2013/14. In addition £13.5 million is approved within the Council's Capital Plan. The cost plan for the project has been revised following further assessment of the proposed sites, resulting in a total capital cost ranging from £53 million to £59.3 million dependant upon site selection. The revised figure will result in a shortfall of £15.8 million to £24.4 million dependent upon site choice, which is currently being addressed through the Council's budget process.
The Education Executive sought, and received, clarification on a various aspects of the report, including the length of the statutory consultation period, and comments received from consultees in terms of site selection.
The Education Executive (a) agreed (i) that the consultative documents contained in the report be issued to all interested parties; (ii) that all interested parties be invited to make written representation on the proposals to the Corporate Director (Education and Skills) no later than 24 February 2011; (iii) that a report on the results of the consultative process be prepared for consideration at a future meeting of the Education Executive; and (b) noted progress on (i) the sites detailed in the main report; and (ii) options considered to address the affordability gap.
7. Garnock Academy Improvement Plan
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Education and Skills) on the efforts made by Garnock Academy to improve the quality of education.
Garnock Academy was last inspected by HMIE in April 2006 and a report published in August 2006. A follow-through report was published in August 2008.
Background information relating to the school roll, management team and staff was detailed in Appendix A to the report.
The school improvement plan outlined four priorities as detailed in Appendix B as follows:-
Prepare for national developments in Curriculum and Assessment;
Continue to improve learning and teaching by use of ICT (Glow initiative);
Continue to improve attainment in S4-S6, and
Continue to improve teaching and learning by sharing good practice.
The Education Executive received a presentation from the headteacher, Mr McNaught, Depute Mr Scott and Acting Depute Mr Duff on the school improvement plan. Members sought, and received clarification on various aspects of the presentation, including:-
Curriculum for excellence;
Engagement with the local community;
Alternative Curriculum, and
Pupil support issues.
Members recorded their appreciation of the work being undertaken throughout the school.