IRVINE, 2 November 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), J Leckie, Head of Service (Community and Culture), M Armstrong, Head of Service (Logistics and Infrastructure), F Rodman, Quality Improvement Officer and S. Storrie, Project Manager, (Education and Skills); Y. Baulk, Head of Finance (Designate) and D. Lodge Supervisory Engineer (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
Douglas Auld, Headteacher (Arran High School).
Councillor Bell in the Chair.
Apologies for Absence
Reverend David Karoon.
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 21 September 2010 were signed in accordance with paragraph 7(1) of Schedule 7 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973.
3. Garnock Project
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Education and Skills) on progress of the Garnock Academy project and seeking approval on key objectives.
In determining the Garnock Academy project, a comprehensive options appraisal has been carried out to consider project options and site selection.
Four options were initially recommended for consideration:-
Option 1 – Replace Garnock Academy
Option 2 – Replace Garnock Academy and Moorpark and Glengarnock Primary Schools
Option 3 – Develop a secondary and primary school campus with leisure facilities
Option 4 – Develop a secondary school and new leisure facilities
The Education Executive on 9 March 2010 approved further development of Option 3.
At the first stage of the site evaluation process 11 sites had been selected for consideration. The location of the sites and details of the site evaluation criteria were contained in appendices 1 and 2 to the report.
Following the decision to plan for a secondary and primary school campus with leisure facilities, 5 sites were selected to go forward to the next stage of the process and following further assessment, this was reduced to 3 sites namely, sites 2, 7 and 10. Details of the considerations pertinent to the sites were contained within the report.
The Scottish Futures Trust funding support for the building of the new Garnock Academy has been set at £18.8m, with the funding available in 2013/14. In addition, £12.5m is also approved within the Council’s Capital Plan. The current programme also allows for £1million of investment at Glengarnock Primary School.
In order to determine the affordability gap, a financial appraisal has been carried out. Funding sources were considered covering areas such as capital receipts and grant funding. The outcome of this exercise has resulted in a total capital cost ranging from £50m to £52.5m dependant upon site choice. With the current capital plan provision, SFT funding and potential capital receipts, there remains a shortfall of £13.5m to £16m.
A projected programme suggests that a timescale of four to five years might be expected for the delivery of the full project. This will be subject to review, determined by factors such as public consultation and any site acquisition implications.
It was proposed that the sites noted in the appended report are further assessed in terms of affordability and legal implications, options to address the affordability gap are considered, and in selecting one of the shortlisted sites, that statutory consultation will be undertaken based on the following grounds:
the amalgamation of Glengarnock and Moorpark primary schools;
the proposed relocation of Garnock Academy, Moorpark and Glengarnock Primary Schools to a new site.
The proposed amalgamation will have staffing implications. Legal implications may arise in the course of the project, dependent on the choice of site.
The Education Executive was advised that, following publication of the report, further discussions had been undertaken with Scottish Enterprise, owners of sites identified as 4 and 11 on the map accompanying the report. Following these discussions, Scottish Enterprise had indicated a willingness to consider a combination of sites 4 and 11 for a new school. Formal confirmation of this position was expected imminently.
The Education Executive sought, and received, clarification of a number of issues arising from the report, including walking distances relative to any proposed new school, the possibility of the amalgamated primary schools being considered separately from the proposed secondary and leisure facility, and the position relative to Scottish Futures Trust funding.
The Education Executive agreed that (a) the sites noted in the report, together with a combination of sites 4 and 11 be further assessed in terms of affordability and legal implications; (b) options are considered to address the affordability gap; and (c) draft Statutory Consultation documentation is prepared.
4. Sportscotland Swimming Top-Up Programme
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Education and Skills) on additional funding available from sportscotland to provide a top-up swimming programme for one year only, and seeking agreement to commission North Ayrshire Leisure Limited (NALL) to deliver a programme for school pupils in North Ayrshire.
North Ayrshire Council has traditionally provided a school swimming programme for primary aged children. This programme was originally delivered to children in Primary 7, the last year of primary school. In recent years the programme has been adjusted to target a younger age group, Primary 5, providing an opportunity for additional swimming lessons before leaving primary school.
As part of the budget exercise for 2009/10, the Council agreed to cease this programme following the academic year 2010/11 with an annual saving of £173,000. The programme will conclude in June 2011.
Sportscotland has now indicated that additional funding is being made available to local authorities to provide a top-up swimming programme for one year only. The target is to raise the percentage of children leaving primary school who can swim from 70% to 90%. The amount offered to North Ayrshire Council is £25,014 and is dependent on a proposal being submitted to sportscotland by 3 December 2010. The funds are available until 31 March 2011.
During this last year of the Council's swimming programme all primary 5 children will receive a 10 week block of swimming lessons, delivered by NALL and held at local swimming pools. On Arran the lessons are delivered by PE staff from Arran High School and are held at the Auchrannie and Kinloch hotels.
Given that the numbers will be relatively small and spread across a number of schools, it is not considered possible to organise an appropriate method of transport within the school day. There would be significant on costs in terms of transport and supervision of pupils.
Early discussions have taken place with NALL on how the additional funding might be used. The top-up programme, to be funded by sportscotland is to be targeted at those children who cannot swim, before they leave primary school. NALL has a process in place which will enable this targeted group of children to be identified.
There would be some scope to include additional children in the current provision, however it is likely that additional classes would be required which would cause difficulty in meeting the extremely challenging timescale of 31 March 2011.
Further discussions will be required with sportscotland and with NALL on the method of commissioning NALL to deliver the programme and the timescale for delivery and it is therefore proposed that the undernoted points form the draft top-up programme to be negotiated:-
NALL to provide 2 x 8 week swimming lessons outwith school time;
A total of 390 children could be provided for;
Education and Skills would distribute prepaid vouchers to eligible children as identified from the assessment at the end of the current school swimming lessons;
Swimming lessons would be available until the end of the 2011 calendar year, with NALL paid for the vouchers by the end of the 2010-11 financial year;
NALL would provide appropriate data on the success rate in order to enable appropriate responses to sportscotland, and
That negotiations take place with the local hotels on Arran to contract their swimming teachers to provide additional lessons outwith school hours.
The Education Executive sought, and received, clarification on the issue of travel costs and the possibility of seeking alternative uses of the funding through sports clubs.
The Education Executive agreed (a) to accept sportscotland's offer of £25,014 to provide a one year swimming top-up programme; (b) that negotiations be undertaken with NALL on the delivery of such a programme; and (c) to submit the proposed programme, as detailed in the report, to sportscotland for approval.
5. Proposed roll out of Enhanced School Nurse Holistic Drop-ins to include Sexual Health services
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Education and Skills) on the proposed roll out of enhanced school nurse drop-ins to include sexual health services.
The school nursing service provided by NHS Ayrshire and Arran currently provides health drop-in sessions within each of the secondary schools in Ayrshire. The present service includes:
support with mental health issues including bullying, stress, self harm
low confidence and self esteem
healthy eating and exercise advice
support with substance misuse, in particular alcohol consumption and smoking
Through the school nursing services provided at Garnock Academy and Auchenharvie Academy, the school drop-in service was enhanced to include sexual health advice and support. This enhanced service has been available since April 2009. The extension of the drop-in service was intended to make it easier for young people to access appropriate support services.
Over a period of five months when the service was closely monitored, 407 young people accessed the service. The reasons for contacting the service spanned all areas covered by the aims (Chlamydia, pregnancy testing, C-Card (condom) Sign-up). The C-Card Sign-up was by far the most common reason for contact.
In both Auchenharvie and Garnock, referrals were made for young people to a range of other services (Social Services, police and health).
Following the success of two enhanced pilot services in Garnock and Auchenharvie Academies, officers in Education and Skills and NHS Ayrshire and Arran are recommending further development of the service in order that secondary aged pupils across the authority can access professional support and advice on a range of services relating to sexual health, to be delivered by school nurses for the NHS.
The service will be delivered by the named school nurse for each secondary school. The service complies with NHS Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Code of Conduct. Any child protection issues would be brought to the attention of the child protection co-ordinator within the appropriate secondary school. The protocols guiding the sexual health service provision were developed in partnership between school nurse co-ordinators and education staff. The protocols have been ratified by NHS Ayrshire and Arran's sexual health consultant.
While the development builds on a more holistic view of health issues, the area of provision that would be likely to be seen as most sensitive by some parents relates to sexual health. Discussions with Parent Councils will focus on the provision of services that would be offered in response to an approach by the individual student.
The initiative would operate within the framework of existing protocols, the key characteristics of which would define the operation of the initiative:
Young people would either self refer, or be referred by school guidance staff.
School staff will not be privy to the confidential discussion that the young person might have with the school nurse.
The service would be confined to the existing school population.
The service will only be established in each of the schools after full consultation with all stakeholders. This discussion will be coordinated through the Parent Councils.
This initiative has already been adopted by East and South Ayrshire Councils and builds on the experience of similar schemes operating in other parts of Scotland including NHS Borders and Lothian. Evidence from other similar schemes in England indicates that within five years considerable progress had been made in reducing teenage pregnancies in the under 16 and under 18 age groups.
The Education Executive agreed, subject to negotiations with appropriate North Ayrshire Council Parent Councils, that (a) the pilot enhanced Drop-in service within Garnock and Auchenharvie Academies be made permanent; and (b) this model of service be rolled out to all other North Ayrshire secondary schools.
6. Free at Three
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Education and Skills) on proposals for taking forward “Free at Three” in North Ayrshire.
Currently in North Ayrshire children are offered free nursery education from the term after their third birthday. This relates to children who are entitled to a place in any one academic session. Children whose birthdays fall on or between 1 March and 30 June will still be entitled to a place in the following academic session, e.g.
BirthdayNursery Start Date
March - August August
September - December January
January - February April
There are, however, implications for this procedure in that:-
some children cannot access a nursery place until 4 months after their third birthday;
the youngest children receive the least amount of nursery education and can therefore be disadvantaged when starting primary school;
in local authority nurseries where staffing was in place and vacancies existed, children could be brought into nursery earlier. This means that not all children are treated equally and depending on locality and availability some children could access nursery education for longer periods of time; and
additional staffing is not available to facilitate this in partner centres.
A letter received from COSLA in April 2010 stated:-
“Councils will continue to expand pre-school provision for three and four year olds in line with the Concordat commitment and affirm their commitment to The Early Years Framework. They will continue to provide free pre-school education and from August 2010 will offer all three year olds the opportunity to start pre-school provision the month following their third birthday or as soon as is practicable."
The North Ayrshire Council draft standard circular on Admissions to Nursery Establishments A2, a copy of which was attached to the report, proposes that from August 2011
all children will be entitled to a place in nursery from the month after their third birthday
that this process should start to be phased in as soon as is practicable for nursery establishments
where staffing and space allows, children will be brought into nursery from the month after their third birthday
pro-rata funding will be provided for partner nurseries to enable them to implement this, thus ensuring equity of access
all children whose third birthday falls in January or February will be allocated a nursery place from the month after their birthday as these are the youngest children and currently have the least time in nursery unless they apply for a deferred entry to primary school.
All costs can be met within the existing budget allocated for increased nursery hours. There will, however, be a need for additional nursery nurses to facilitate the increase in numbers in some nurseries. This will create posts for fully trained nursery nurses who are currently on the supply list.
There are no catchment areas attached to nursery provision, which will ensure that parents can apply for the nursery of their choice within North Ayrshire to suit their work and childcare needs.
The Education Executive approved the proposals for "Free at Three" in North Ayrshire, as detailed in the report.
7. Arran High School Improvement Plan
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Education and Skills) on arrangements for sustaining and improving the quality of education in Arran High School.
Arran High School was last inspected by HMIE in October 2002 and a report published in February 2003. A follow-through report was published in January 2005.
A review of Arran High School was undertaken in May 2009 as part of North Ayrshire Council's school review programme.
Background information relating to the school roll, management team and staff was detailed in Appendix A to the report.
The School Improvement Plan outlined six priorities as detailed in Appendix B to the report as follows: -
To continue working towards full implementation of Curriculum for Excellence taking into account local and national guidelines;
To involve every member of staff in self-evaluation activities in a climate of collegiality and trust, with key focus on improvement in learning and teaching;
To develop the role of the register teacher through further development of the Vertical Register and Mentoring system;
To raise attainment through an improved system of pupil tracking and target setting;
To adopt the "Teacher Learning Community" model and sustain assessment for learning (formative assessment) approaches in order to improve achievement in the classroom, and
To continue working in partnership with parents/carers, fostering continued improvement of the learning environment and learners' experiences.
The Education Executive received a presentation from the headteacher, Mr Auld, on the School Improvement Plan, and in particular on the Standards and Quality Report for Session 2009-10. Members sought, and received, clarification on:-
the action being taken to address under-achieving pupils and to strengthen high achievement;
the advantages and disadvantages of operating an island-based school, and
arrangements for engaging the wider community in its activities.
Members recorded their appreciation of the work being undertaken throughout the school.