Irvine, 1 February 2006 - At a meeting of the Educational Services Standing Sub Committee of North Ayrshire Council at 2.00 pm.
Jacqueline Browne, Gordon Allison, Jean Highgate, Elisabethe Marshall, Peter McNamara, Donald Reid, John Scott and Elaine Shaw.
J Leckie, Head of Service; G Johnstone, Quality Improvements Manager; A McGonigle, Quality Improvement Officer; M McLarty, Information and Resource Manager; A Milson, Learning Manager, Quality Development; N McCrone, Cultural Service Manager; L Hamilton, Out of School Care Development Officer; G Clark, Country Parks Manager; J Bannatyne and E Fisher, Corporate and Democratic Support Officers (Chief Executive's).
Councillor Browne in the Chair.
Apologies for Absence
Drew Duncan and John Reid.
1. Service Performance Reports for 6 Months Ended 30 September 2005
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Educational Services) on the performance of each of the main service areas within Educational Services for the 6 months ended 30 September 2005.
Statutory Guidance issued by Scottish Ministers advises local authorities what they are expected to demonstrate to fulfil the duty of Best Value, including:-
Officers reported on performance highs, lows and immediate priorities for each of the services as follows:-
5-14 mathematics, reading and writing targets for 2002-05 were exceeded in primary.
SQA attainment at S4 is significantly improved and is on a par with comparator authorities.
Attainment of Looked After Children in North Ayrshire is above the national average.
Increased opportunities for pupils participation in decision-making, buddying/mentoring, enterprise and creativity.
Well-established partnerships with various agencies, industry and businesses.
The percentage of school leavers entering higher, further education or vocational training is above the national average.
A small number of schools did not achieve their 5-14 targets.
S5/6 performance is low, but in line with past performance at S4.
Exclusions in secondary schools are above the national average.
Continue to monitor progress in 5-14 attainment and provide focus and support for schools, as necessary.
Extend measures to improve attainment and ensure continuity of progress in S5 and S6.
Track level of exclusions and monitor impact of strategies to reduce exclusions.
Library and Information Service
The online library catalogue, Talis Prism, has been created and was launched in 2005. All staff have been trained in readiness for public use.
The Library and Information Service staff review has been completed.
192 new learners have taken part in library learning opportunities with computer buddies and library staff, with the overall total now 430 learners.
141 students described basic ICT workshops in libraries delivered by library staff and volunteers as "very good" or "excellent".
The recent People's Panel survey found that for those people who do not have access to e-mail or the internet for personal use outside the home, 28% used the local library. People living in Regeneration Areas are more likely to use a local library (41%) for this purpose.
New accommodation has been found for Irvine Library, which will relocate to the High Street, providing an opportunity to develop aspects of the library service.
The Alice school library management system is currently being introduced into all primary schools in North Ayrshire, the first Scottish local authority to do so.
The Information Literacy Toolkit, described by HMIE as "excellent and innovative" has been introduced into a further 4 primary schools by Primary Education Resource Co-ordinators (current total of 10 primary schools and 2 secondary schools).
25 schools (58 classes) benefited from author visits to celebrate their library improvements as a result of the Primary School Library Project.
No accommodation has been found for local history.
Relocation of Irvine Library to new premises.
Continued development of Talis Prism and upgrade to Talis Alto.
Development of Adult Literacies Read and Write initiative in conjunction with the BBC.
Deployment of Regeneration Outcome Agreement funded Supported Study Officer to develop family and homework clubs in libraries.
Roll out of Count Me In early numeracy campaign in conjunction with the Clydesdale Bank.
Community Learning and Development
Community Learning and Development Service (CLAD) was now involved in a wide range of productive partnerships.
CLAD made very effective use of well-structured individual work plans.
There were good opportunities for accreditation offered through the Youth Achievement Award, Duke of Edinburgh's Award, and the John Muir Award.
CLAD had developed a suite of Individual Learning Plans (ILPs). These had been extensively piloted in adult literacy and numeracy work.
CLAD had developed and run a number of training events for community groups in conjunction with partner agencies from the local voluntary sector.
CLAD had made significant progress in making buildings more accessible for people with disabilities.
There is a need for increased promotion of the impact that Community Learning and Development makes with young people in schools and in local communities.
There is a need to develop approaches to assessment and accreditation for young people and adults.
The Performance Information Evaluation System (PIES) requires to be more accessible.
Develop school partnerships further through joint planning and reviews of outcomes for young people.
Extend training for staff on approaches to assessing learning for young people and adults.
Investigate appropriate accreditation of literacies learning in youth work.
Develop PIES as a web-based system.
Develop and deliver SVQ level 3 and 4 in Youth Work.
Successfully accessed external funding to introduce boys' choir to increase boys' participation in North Ayrshire choirs.
Established links with local, national and international Burns organisations to improve Burns related activity in North Ayrshire.
Successfully arranged that North Ayrshire will be part of the National Theatre of Scotland pilot programme.
Introduction of systems to manage health and safety aspects of Cultural Services events.
Temporary closure of 2 museums pending refurbishment.
Temporary closure of Harbour Arts Centre pending refurbishment.
Outdated staffing structure for arts centres and museums.
Lack of provision for music theatre for P4 and P5 pupils.
Liaise with Property Services to co-ordinate refurbishment and reopening of 2 museums.
Liaise with Property Services and Scottish Arts Council to co-ordinate , refurbishment and reopening of Harbour Arts Centre.
Redeploy specific Cultural Services staff to manage refurbished facilities.
Apply for funding to develop programme for music theatre for P4 and P5 pupils.
Children's Outreach Services
The 3 year subsidies allocated to Out of School Care services across North Ayrshire are proving most useful to groups in relation to improving the quality of the services and the terms and conditions for staff.
Activity sessions delivered by the Resource Team continue to grow in popularity.
The proposed improvements in relation to staffing in the Out of School Care Service are now implemented and proving to be a great asset to the service.
All breakfast clubs now have dedicated support from the Children's Services Officer appointed to co-ordinate their work. All staff are working on standard terms and conditions and within the standard policies for the service. The quality of the service has greatly improved.
The use of the Toy Library for local groups and individuals continues to increase.
Lack of Out of School Care services for 10-14 year olds.
Difficulties continue to be experienced by voluntary managed playgroups and out of school care services in relation to long term sustainability due to the fragility of their management structure in today's society.
Lack of co-ordination of holiday activities for children.
Some established procedures detrimentally affected due to long term absences of key staff.
Investigate new, national feasibility studies on childcare for 10-14 year olds in relation to its relevance to North Ayrshire.
Look into the mechanisms of support to assist local, voluntary managed groups or alternative means of delivery of the services.
Create an inter agency strategy to plan and co-ordinate holiday activities for summer 2006.
Annual visitors for first 6 months up by 32.7% overall partly due to good summer and additional events.
Brought East Ayrshire Classic Car Show to Eglinton. This event attracted 5,800 people and increased our events figures by 106.8%. It is booked again for 2006 and likely to become an annual event.
Maintenance work carried out to footpaths and bridle ways has resulted in significant improvements and reduced complaints.
Ranger Service has been awarded Provider Status for delivering John Muir Awards and a certificate will be presented later in the year.
Participated in Beith Public Park project with foreign students from World Youth Congress.
5 schools now have an Eco Schools Green Flag Environmental Award through work with the Eco Schools Group.
Countryside Liaison Officer has assisted schools with applications for external funding.
No further progress in attracting funding for additional Ranger/s to carry out duties under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.
Office extension not yet begun but start date agreed for October 2005.
Slow progress on extension to horse riding facilities.
Carry out audit of park facilities to ensure compliance with Disability Discrimination Act.
Continue to work with British Horse Society and North Ayrshire Riding and Trek Club with regard to increasing facilities for horse riding.
Enter discussions with Ayrshire Orienteering Club to provide a permanent orienteering course in Eglinton Country Park.
Continue to provide opportunities for local groups to gain John Muir awards.
In response to members' questions, officers provided further information and clarification on the reports.
2. Follow-Through Reports
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Educational Services) on schools which have completed the Follow-Through process following HMIE inspections between August 2005 and January 2006.
HMIE reports contain action points for improvement and there is a well established and rigorous monitoring system in place in which the Quality Improvement Service is involved. Responsibility for publishing Follow-Through reports is shared between HMIE and local authorities. Since August 2005 Follow-Through reports have been finalised for a further 3 schools in North Ayrshire, namely, Brodick, Lamlash and Woodlands Primary Schools. Copies of the finalised individual school reports were appendiced to the report and provided details on the HMIE inspection, continuous improvement and the steps taken to progress towards meeting the main points for action.
The Chair undertook to write to the 3 schools to congratulate them on their achievements.
3. Review of Reports by HM Inspectorate of Education (2003-2005)
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Educational Services) on key aspects of inspections of North Ayrshire Council schools between November 2003 and August 2005.
During the period November 2003 to August 2005, 13 North Ayrshire Council schools had reports published on their inspection by HM Inspectorate of Education which were part of the national sample of the quality of education. The inspections covered 9 primary schools, 2 secondary schools and 2 special schools. HMIE have now published a review of these inspections which provides a useful summary of performance. It is proposed that the schools and the authority build on the strengths identified in the review and share good practice and that schools yet to undergo inspection use the review to evaluate their own status in relation to the key strengths and points for action.