IRVINE, 1 November 2004 - At a Meeting of the Educational Services Standing Sub Committee of North Ayrshire Council at 10.00 am.
Jacqueline Browne. Gordon Allison, Jean Highgate, Peter McNamara, Donald Reid, Elaine Shaw.
J Travers, Corporate Director, J Leckie, J Ward, Heads of Service, J McKnight, Principal Officer (Community Learning and Development), M Craik, Principal Children's Services Officer, A McGonigle, Quality Improvement Officer and M McLarty, Information and Resource Manager (Educational Services); A Osborne and Elizabeth Fisher, Corporate and Democratic Support Officers (Chief Executive's).
Councillor Browne in the Chair.
Apologies for Absence
Drew Duncan, Father Matthew McManus, Elisabethe Marshall and John Reid.
1. Customer Survey of Library Use
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Educational Services) on the outcome of the recent survey on the use of libraries following a request for such information from the Sub Committee.
The Sub Committee agreed to (a) note the results of the survey; (b) receive further reports on library use on a regular basis; and (c) encourage members to identify further issues for investigation and reporting.
2. Performance Reports
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Educational Services) on Service Performance for the 6 months ended 30 September 2004.
The Local Government in Scotland Act 2003 established Best Value as a statutory duty for local authorities and Scottish Ministers subsequently issued Statutory Guidance informing local authorities how they are to fulfil that duty. Elected Members currently receive Annual Reviews of performance within Service Plans and Annual Reports in relation to Statutory Performance Indicators. Performance monitoring is also assisted by the half-yearly performance reporting to the Standing Sub Committees.
Officers reported on the performance highs and lows for the six months ended 30 September 2004 and on the immediate priorities for Educational Services as follows:-
Improvement in pupil attainment in SQA exams at Level 6 (3 Highers and 5 Highers) and Level 7 (Advanced Higher).
Significantly improved performance at Level 3 (Standard Grade (Foundation) or Access 3).
Range and scope of opportunities for pupils and young people to engage in enterprise, citizenship and creative activities.
Significant, positive impact of the Early Intervention Project on the gap in pupils' attainment between more advantaged and less advantaged pupils.
Effective implementation of the policy on inclusion.
Performance in 5-14 levels is good in comparison with national averages.
Development of a long term strategic plan for properties.
Establishment of Arran Outdoor Education Resource (AOER) Outreach Service on mainland.
Slight downward trend in Level 4 (Standard Grade (General) or Access 2) SQA results.
A small number of schools not on track to achieve the targets set for 5-14 for 2005.
Resourcing issues, including accommodation, have limited development of AOER.
Consolidate gains from Early Intervention Project into S1 and S2.
Address the downward trend in SQA results at Level 4 (Standard Grade (General) or Access 2).
Continue to progress the PPP initiative and implement the School Estate Strategy.
Maintain rigorous monitoring procedures for 5-14 attainment and provide focus and support for specific schools.
Address the resourcing issues at AOER.
Library and Information Service
North Ayrshire's household survey of Council services found that library services have the highest satisfaction levels.
The HM Inspectorate of Education Follow-up Report judged the Educational Resource Service to have made a very important contribution to raising attainment and highlighted the Primary School Library Improvement Plan; the 'excellent' online website and Supported Study initiatives in libraries to support pupils in their local communities.
Statutory Performance Indicators for 03/04 show continuous improvement in key areas although national data from the Audit Unit is not yet available for comparison.
BookSp@ce, a reading initiative for children, has achieved significant growth in 7 months and has already achieved national recognition.
Use of the People's Network has continued to grow, making an important contribution to community learning.
The HM Inspectorate of Education Report on Community Learning and Development in the Three Towns reported the Computer Buddy scheme in libraries to be ' Very Good'.
The refurbishment of Largs Library was completed in September 04 to provide a better community facility, with more effective access to the People's Network, books and information.
The European Computer Driving Licence 3 year training programme for all library staff was completed in September 04.
Transfer of the People's Network and the Library Management System (Talis) to the 45MB line has resolved speed of access in libraries, providing fast, efficient access to the Internet. This was a Performance Low in the 03/04 report.
Delays in publishing the library catalogue on the Internet due to technical problems, now projected for the end of the financial year.
Capacity has been reached in the Archive store in Perceton House. No further consignments can be taken, holding up the implementation of Records Management policy across departments.
Local History is a fast growing area and Listening and Learning forms record high levels of satisfaction with support received, particularly from overseas visitors. However, the accommodation is inadequate and precludes any significant growth in visitor numbers.
Publishing the library catalogue on the Internet.
Implementing a staff structure which will address and support the key priorities of a Library and Information Service which has experienced significant development since the implementation of the People's Network.
Continuing strategic review of library properties to address the developing role of libraries.
Continuing the integration of library services to children and young people with the Education Resource Service to embed BookSp@ce and Supported Study in collaboration with schools.
Continuing focus on reader development, supported by a refurbishment programme with a strategic focus on marketing and presentation.
Community Learning & Development
Successful facilitation of the community engagement process enabled the establishment of Anti-Social Behaviour compacts in Broomlands and Bourtreehill, Pennyburn and Saltcoats. Residents have reported a general decrease in anti-social behaviour since its establishment.
Successful roll-out of Management Information System within the adult literacies project improved quality monitoring and evaluation systems.
Three Towns Custom Bike Group won five awards as participants in the National Youth Bike Championships 2004.
160 S2 pupils from Auchenharvie and Greenwood Academy have attended advocacy awareness workshops as part of their Personal & Social Education (PSE) programmes.
North Ayrshire's Statement of Readiness identified Dialogue Youth, the forum established to provide a voice for young people in North Ayrshire, as an example of good practice.
High level of response and commitment towards Community Learning and Development in Saltcoats North.
The very high level of satisfaction expressed by adult learners who were surveyed.
Provision for young people is uneven across the area and uptake could be improved.
Learner support structures are not developed evenly across all areas.
Self evaluation needs to be improved with a greater focus on learners and learning outcomes.
Limited influence on public policy and delivery of service by community organisations.
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 Youth Music Initiative.
Development of projects with national arts companies.
Numbers of visitors to museums continue to increase.
Improved communications through Loop magazine.
Extension of festivals programme.
Development of international opportunities for participation in the arts.
Secured funding to upgrade the Harbour Arts Centre.
Liaised 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 computerised booking system.
Inconsistent evaluations of arts initiatives.
Arts opportunities for schools limited by curriculum priorities.
Inadequate tracking of musical instruments on loan to pupils and schools.
Inadequate knowledge of cultural requirements of local populace.
Technical issues have delayed internet availability of publicity material.
Continue to audit current arts activity and standardise evaluation procedures.
Deliver arts in schools in line with curriculum guidelines.
Devise procedures to track musical instruments on loan to pupils and schools.
Make publicity material available on the website.
Children's Outreach Services
Toy Library continues to be well used and figures are on target to compare favourably with those for previous years.
Bookstart initiative very proactive - Rhyme Time sessions being run for parents and children as well as Bookstart bags being distributed. This initiative is designed to raise the profile of the importance of books in a child's development.
Research company commissioned to draw up play strategy. A draft report will be produced by February 2005 and will be issued for consultation.
Use of Council-run out of school care groups continues to increase.
Additional staff appointed to increase opportunities to achieve SVQs in Playwork.
Preparatory work for introduction of registration with the Scottish Social Services Council is progressing well.
Support for groups in achieving financial self-sustainability continues to develop.
A system is being developed for regular feedback from customers. The majority of comments are favourable, with any criticisms being used to inform improvements.
Continuing problem of providing out of school care in rural areas.
Lack out of school care services for children aged 10-16.
Limited funding for some areas (eg play development) inhibits long term development of services.
Continue to give PDR a high priority.
Investigate innovative solutions to childcare needs in rural areas. Work closely with Working for Families initiative to avoid duplication.
Identify appropriate methods of providing childcare for young people 10-16.
Develop strategy for service delivery and seek funding.
Annual visitor figures for Eglinton Country Park continued at a high level in spite of a wet summer season.
The Ranger Service continued to provide a quality environmental education for pre-primary, primary and secondary schools. In total, 3814 children attended.
Building on success with Ways 2 Walk, all Ranger staff trained as walk leaders, with walks carried out in Eglinton, Largs, Garnock Valley, Three Towns and Irvine.
Built on conservation work through John Muir Award Trust and have trained two additional staff as group leaders. Local groups achieved Discovery and Explorer level awards.
Hosted "Clued up Kids" safety project for second year with approx. 1900 school children from across North Ayrshire attending.
Began work on bridge restoration with three bridges (Chapleholms, Laundry and Suspension) all nearing completion.
Eglinton Country Park once again rated as a Three Star Visitor Attraction under Visit Scotland's Quality Assurance Scheme. The highest score of 9 was awarded to the welcome/attitude/efficiency of staff within the visitor centre.
Scottish Natural Heritage funding not yet approved. Changes to Draft Strategy for 2004-2007 re-submitted and outcome within next few weeks. Anticipated that award of grant will be similar to previous three years.
Complaints regarding condition of footpath and bridleway maintenance.
PDR process delayed.
Biological recording work has been ongoing within the Country Park but requires updating and the system modernised.
Conclude discussions with Scottish Natural Heritage and secure funding for 2004-2007.
Carry out PDR update for all staff in December.
Continue discussions to improve standard of grounds maintenance.
Investigate ways to improve biological recording and set up computerised system which can cover areas other than Eglinton Country Park.
North Ayrshire Leisure Ltd
Various aspects of sports facilities have been refurbished or developed.
New Children's Fitness Centre recently opened at the Magnum is one of the first of its kind in the UK.
Partnership arrangements with various bodies have supported development across a range of sporting activities in the provision of facilities.
The operation of the Auchenharvie Golf Course and Driving Range has been brought inhouse and IT systems within the Company are being extended to include golf courses and outdoor sports pitches.
Launch of a créche at the Magnum Leisure Centre as a trial project.
Closure of the water rides and stair tower at the Magnum because they are unsuitable for continued use due to their age. This has impacted negatively on visitor numbers to the pool facility.
Slight decrease in visits to fitness facilities, in part due to the stabilising of uptake after the initial introductory period. There is also an increase in competitors within this area.
Conduct a feasibility study to consider options for replacement or renewal of water rides at the Magnum.
Continue investment programme within facilities. Develop the use of Kilwinning Academy as a dual use sports facility.
Secure funding for the North Ayrshire Skate Park.
In response to members' questions, officers provided further information and clarification on all the reports.
The Sub Committee agreed to (a) consider reports at the next meeting on accommodation issues at Ardrossan Library, particularly in relation to facilities for genealogy research and on the feasibility of extending the season for the visitor centre at Eglinton Park; (b) consider reports at future meetings on resource implications for the maintenance of woodland and tree thinning and the procedures for voluntary groups to engage with the Council and North Ayrshire Leisure in pursuing leisure and sports activity; and (c) otherwise note the reports.