IRVINE, 31 August 2005 - At a Meeting of the Educational Services Standing Sub Committee of North Ayrshire Council at 2.00 p.m.
Jacqueline Browne, Gordon Allison, Drew Duncan, Jean Highgate, Alan Hill, Peter McNamara, Donald Reid, Rev Sandy Montgomerie and Gordon Smith.
L Owens, Head of Service; M Craik, Principal Children's Services Officer; G Clark, Country Parks Manager; G Johnstone and C Quinn, Quality Improvement Managers; N McCrone, Cultural Service Manager; M McLarty, Information and Resource Manager; A Milson, Learning Manager, Quality Development; and A McGonigle, Quality Improvement Officer (Educational Services); and A Osborne and C Graham, Corporate and Democratic Support Officers (Chief Executive's).
Councillor Browne in the Chair.
Apologies for Absence
1. Service Performance Reports for 12 Months Ended 31 March 2005
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Educational Services) on performance for each of the main service areas within Educational Services for the year to 31 March 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:-
Steady improvement in 5-14 attainment across almost all stages.
Favourable levels of award at Standard Grade, Access 3 and Higher.
Exclusions have decreased overall as a result of new initiatives.
Good level of provision for cultural, sporting and learning activities outwith the core curriculum.
Success of Enterprise in Education initiatives in developing enterprise skills.
Increased level of buddying and mentoring in primary schools.
Partnership arrangements under the Integrated Community Schools (ICS) initiative are now well-established.
Very good level of parent partnerships.
Improvements made to properties under the School Estate Management Plan.
Scottish Qualification Awards (SQA) in some subjects are still not showing an upward trend.
A small number of schools not on track to achieve 5-14 targets set for 2005.
Address the attainment issues in some secondary subjects.
Continue to monitor progress in 5-14 attainment and provide focus and support for schools, as necessary.
Library and Information Service
The North Ayrshire household survey of Council services found that the Library and Information Service enjoys the highest satisfaction rating – almost 70%.
The Audit of Best Value and Community Planning in North Ayrshire Council reported that the Library and Information Service performed well and commended the service for partnership working to address the social inclusion agenda and for its focus on continuous improvement.
HMIE reviewed the Educational Resource Service as part of the Follow Up Inspection of Educational Services (August 2004) and found them to be best practice. The online website is rated as “excellent” and the Primary School Library Improvement Plan and Supported Study are described as “making an important contribution to raising attainment".
The Statutory Performance Indicators for 2003/04 show that North Ayrshire performs consistently well against the Scottish averages and better than comparator authorities.
Speed of access to the Internet has been much improved and this is reflected in computer booking increases. This was a performance low in the 2003/04 report.
All library staff completed The European Computer Driving Licence training.
Book Sp@ce, for children, has experienced significant growth and achieved national recognition. Activities on the online website have generated thousands of online transactions.
The refurbishment of Largs Library was completed in September and has resulted in a significant increase in use. The refurbishment of Kilbirnie Library has also been completed.
Ten libraries have been adapted to meet the Disability Discrimination Act legislation and have been partially refurbished to capitalise on closure periods. This has generated a positive response from the public.
Greenwood Teachers’ Centre is operating consistently at maximum capacity.
No solution has been found for the inadequate accommodation for Local History in Library HQ.
Public launch of the library catalogue on the Internet, providing a range of electronic services and contributing to Navigate being awarded transactional status.
Relocation of Irvine Library to Irvine High St.
Completion of a review of library staff structure to address national priorities for libraries.
Community Learning and Development
Over 300 young people in Saltcoats and 200 in Bourtreehill/Broomlands have been contacted through streetwork.
Over 10,000 Young Scot Cards were distributed to 10 mainstream secondary schools and 3 special needs schools to provide local young people with access to 1,800 national and 250,000 European discounts, competitions and funding opportunities through the Post Office Action Fund and the Sp@ce Action Fund. Pupils in the remaining special school will be included in session 2005/06.
A broad range of learning opportunities was provided across North Ayrshire. A total of 126 courses, including Basic I T, First Steps to Learning, Psychology and Parenting were offered successfully to adult learners.
Adult Learners’ Fora are being developed in Largs, Cumbrae, West Kilbride and Ardrossan to engage learners within the planning and delivery of learning.
Tutor and learner evaluations highlighted the progression made by adult learners in the range of courses on offer. Most learners reported a progression in their learning as a result of participating in community-based adult learning courses.
The development of 4 Neighbourhood Compacts and 3 Community Learning and Development Action Plans has led to more effective partnerships in the writing of action plans, ensuring that partners (including the community) have greater ownership of the planning process.
A celebration event for 200 volunteers from across North Ayrshire was held in April 2005 to recognise the considerable contribution they make to community life and capacity building. This raised the profile of volunteering across North Ayrshire.
There needs to be an increased awareness of, and access to, guidance for adult learners in order that progression to further learning opportunities can be encouraged.
Full course descriptors for prospective students were not in place.
The establishment of Individual Learning Plans did not progress beyond the pilot stage in all cases.
The ability of young people to plan their learning using a variety of different methods needs to be extended.
Improve ability of service teams to plan and self-evaluate their work.
More systematic approaches will be introduced to the branding and marketing of provision for young people to increase uptake.
Individual Learning Plans will be developed more systematically to help to ensure more effective learning outcomes and progression for learners.
A systematic approach will be developed to the delivery of training and support programmes for community organisations within the area.
Implementation of second phase of Youth Music Initiative.
Development of projects with national arts companies.
Development of international opportunities for participation in the arts.
Liaison with PPP Team to incorporate performance venues in new schools.
Development of arts initiatives to include children with additional support needs and those at risk of exclusion.
Introduction of standard evaluation procedures for art activities.
Music Service highlighted by HMIE as national example of best practice.
North Ayrshire Music Service awarded a Diploma from the National Music Council.
Temporary closure of two museums pending refurbishment.
Temporary closure of Harbour Arts Centre pending refurbishment.
Lack of quality publicity material in digital format.
Poor links with Burns organisations outwith North Ayrshire.
Lack of boys participating in North Ayrshire choirs.
Lack of music provision for children 3-5 years.
Lack of computerised system for tracking and maintenance of musical instruments on loan to pupils and schools.
Lack of co-ordination of out of school activities with other providers.
Liaise with Property Services to co-ordinate refurbishment and reopening of two museums.
Liaise with Property Services and Scottish Arts Council to co-ordinate refurbishment and reopening of Harbour Arts Centre.
Arrange production of quality publicity material in digital format.
Develop links with other local authorities and national agencies to promote Burns programme of activity.
Apply for funding to develop programme to encourage boys to participate in North Ayrshire Choirs.
Apply for funding to develop music programme for children 3-5 years.
Identify suitable computerised system for tracking musical instruments.
Co-ordinate out of school activities provision with other providers in North Ayrshire.
Children's Outreach Services
Promotional activities run by the Bookstart Team, in liaison with libraries and community nurseries well attended.
There has been improved customer feedback with regular consultations taking place. Systems have been set up to collate this information and results are included in service development plans.
Subsidies were allocated to Out of School Care services across North Ayrshire for the next three years to assist them with longer term business and financial planning.
Increased range of opportunities now available to children with Additional Support Needs for both childcare and after school activities.
Staff now appointed to implement Inclusive Childcare Project giving children with additional support needs greater access to childcare.
Purchase of new mobile play unit specifically for under 3’s will enhance service to children and allow staff to work with other agencies to support parents.
Robust infrastructure for recording and monitoring staff CPD has been established.
Use of Toy Library by groups and individuals working with children continues to increase.
Lack of Out of School Care services for young people aged 10-16.
Difficulties being experienced by voluntary managed playgroups in term of long term sustainability.
Lack of co-ordination in the provision of holiday activities for children.
Limited funding for some areas inhibits long term development of services.
Identify appropriate methods of providing childcare for young people aged 10-16.
Appoint a Group Support Worker to support playgroup committees.
Create an inter-agency group to plan and co-ordinate holiday activities for 2006.
Continue to develop strategy for service delivery and seek additional sources of funding.
Annual visitor figures remained at similar levels to 2003/4 despite poor weather during summer season.
School groups showed a 5.4% increase with 5019 pupils attending from 194 classes.
Bridge restoration work progressing well. Five bridges complete and working on sixth. Plans for Tournament Bridge are well advanced.
Budget secured for footpath and bridleway maintenance. Several footpaths repaired, bridleway drainage complete and new schedules being prepared for 2005.
All Ranger staff now trained as group leaders for John Muir Award and work undertaken with several local groups.
Biological recording system set up using Recorder 2000 software package. One member of Ranger staff trained. Records can now be updated in 2005.
Entered into discussions with British Horse Society Access Officer and local riding club with view to seeking funding to extend horse-riding facilities in North Ayrshire.
Funding secured from Scottish Natural Heritage for Ranger Service for 2004/7 period, but at a reduced level, due to more rigorous application of criteria for working outwith Country Park.
Complaints still being received about footpaths, but should reduce as 2005 work schedules are implemented.
Failure to secure funding through Access monies for additional Ranger to carry out duties under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.
PDR process not completed for all staff but training needs being met.
Planned office extension not carried out in 2004/5 but finance secured.
Continue improvements to footpaths and bridleways over 2005.
Continue to seek funding through Access for additional Ranger.
Liaise with Technical Services regarding office extension.
Complete PDR process.
In response to members' questions, officers provided further information and clarification on the reports.
The Sub Committee agreed (a) that future reports provide details of the work being carried out in all geographical areas by Community Learning and Development; (b) that Cultural Services consider the wider promotion of musical events and an increase in the number of performances; and (c) to otherwise note the reports.
2. Follow Through Reports
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Educational Services) on schools which have been through the Follow-Through process following HMIE inspections and those currently still engaged in that process.
HMIE reports contain action points for improvement and there is a well established and rigorous monitoring system in place which includes the Quality Improvement Service. Responsibility for publishing Follow-Through reports is shared between HMIE and local authorities. Since August 2003, Follow-Through reports have been published for 19 schools in North Ayrshire. In all but one (Dalry Primary) the responsibility for the production of the reports has rested with North Ayrshire Council. The individual school reports were attached to the report as Appendix 2 and provided details on the HMIE inspection and the steps taken to progress, improve on and meet the main points identified as requiring action. The Follow-Through reports are distributed to all parents and carers, and are published on the Council's website.
A further 14 schools have recently been inspected by HMIE and the Follow-Through reports will be published over the next 18 months.
The Sub Committee agreed to (a) commend schools for their work in meeting the points for action; and (b) otherwise note the report.
3. Adult Literacy and Numeracy
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Educational Services) on progress made in implementing the Adult Literacy and Numeracy Action Plan 2006-08.
In July 2001, the Scottish Executive made funding available to local authorities to raise levels of Adult Literacy and Numeracy. The total funding provided to North Ayrshire to 2004 amounted to £1,272,509. A further £779,000 has been announced for the continuing development of adult literacies for the period 2006-2008. The end-year report for 2004/05 has been submitted to the Scottish Executive and advises of an increase in targets for the year together with evidences of increases in the quality and quantity of provision and infrastructure. The Executive's response is awaited.
The total number of adult learners participating in Adult Literacy and Numeracy (ALN) programmes has risen from 647 in 2002/03 to 1385 in 2004/05. Courses are held in a variety of venues across North Ayrshire and in the 5 months since April, 53 different adult literacies courses based on group learning and 30 courses on a one-to-one basis have been set up, the highest number of participants residing in Irvine and Kilbirnie.
A Literacies Challenge Fund is available to partners for the development of innovative projects. In 2004/05, £161,000 was allocated to 13 projects through the fund.
In future, a report will be submitted to the Educational Services Committee with a more detailed report to the Sub Committee.
The Sub Committee agreed (a) that a progress report be considered in 2006; and (b) to otherwise note the report.
4. Evaluation of Cluster Curriculum Initiatives
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Educational Services) on the outcome of an evaluation on Cluster Curriculum Initiatives in North Ayrshire schools.
Transition arrangements for pupils transferring from primary to secondary school have, in the past, focused mainly on familiarisation visits by pupils and an exchange of information between teachers. The Educational Services Improvement Plan for 2002/05 set a target "To improve the pace of learning in the transfer of pupils from primary to secondary school", aimed at improving continuity, and raising standards of attainment and achievement.
National Priorities funding was identified to support appropriate cluster initiatives and in 2004, an external consultant was commissioned to conduct an objective scrutiny of the initiatives. The evaluation consisted of 3 sections, with all schools participating in the general evaluation via a sample of pupils, teachers and managers questionnaires, a series of Open Space consultation events involving pupils from primaries 5-7 and 1st and 2nd year secondary pupils, and a programme of visits to the individual cluster projects. A copy of the evaluation was attached as an appendix to the report, together with details of the questionnaire responses and a list of priorities determined by pupils.
The evaluation report confirms that North Ayrshire Council is in the forefront of such developments nationally.