MINUTES OF THE SCHOOL COUNCIL MEETING HELD ON
MONDAY 23 NOVEMBER 2009 at Law Primary School
Present: Mr J Arbuckle Chair
Mrs A Acton
Mrs J Blair
Mrs L Johnston
Mr E McQueen
Mr J Maslen
Mrs R Rae
Mrs L Turnbull
Mrs G Baillie
Mrs W Brown
Mr N Barnes, Headteacher
Mrs E Westcott, Clerk
1. APOLOGIES Mrs D Armstrong
Mrs L Brogden
Mr R Budd
The Minutes of the meeting held on Monday 26 October 2009 were taken as read, approved and signed.
Mr Eric McQueen undertook to take on the role of Vice-Chair.
4. MATTERS ARISING
The Clerk confirmed that Mrs Armstrong was willing to continue to act as the School Council/PTA contact.
The guidelines, which applied to School Council and PTA meetings, stated that the finish time had been set at 9.00pm with exceptions being considered for one-off special events, if absolutely necessary. Any future lets which required a later finish time must be agreed with Facilities Management before application.
4.3 Travel Plan
The notes from the site visit to Law Primary/North Berwick High Schools on Tuesday 6 October were received.
4.4 Attainment Statistics by Gender
The amended version had been circulated.
4.5 Repairs and Maintenance
Mr Barnes said that information from ELC came mostly via emails from Neil Irvine who also liaised directly with the Janitor.
4.6 Parent Information
Mr Barnes said consideration was being given to waiting until the beginning of the new session to remind parents that school policies varied from year to year.
4.7 Malawi Backpack Appeal
Mr Barnes was pleased to report that Law Primary School’s target of 300 backpacks had been exceeded.
5. HEADTEACHER’S REPORT
Gemma Luke (nee Beaton) would be returning to P3 in the New Year as part of a job share with Angela Stark (nee Wheatley). Suzie Gilkison would be returning to P7 at which time Clare Brodie would move to P5 to cover Jane Burns’ maternity leave.
Following Mr Barnes report of the moratorium on advertising of all permanent posts, members were concerned at the implications for NQTs.
Mr Barnes reported that this was becoming an increasing problem, causing disruption not only to the Office staff, but also to the class teacher. For instance, in the Infant Area parents had resorted to knocking on classroom windows to be let in, which members agreed was totally unacceptable. He asked members’ views on having a “be on time week” next week during which latecomers would not only be given a late slip but also a red card which would result in pupils in P1-3 losing some of their golden time and in P4-7 losing all of it. Parents would receive prior warning of these arrangements and notices put on all the doors. Members agreed that it was important to instil in children from an early age the importance of being punctual and fully supported the proposed measures.
Guidance had been received from Ruth Briggs, ELAPCM Chair, offering wording for a letter to parents alerting them to the current consultation and opportunity to contribute and attend scheduled public meetings. Whilst welcoming this assistance, members agreed that it was important to formulate their own viewpoint.
Mr Maslen said that ideally parents would sign up to receive information by email thus reducing administration tasks. He explained that although a website might contain several separate blogs, it was possible to register an interest in just one. The School Council blog was about two years out of date and he undertook to liaise with Debbie Armstrong on this. Mr Maslen also agreed to investigate Ross High School’s use of their website.
7. EAST LOTHIAN COUNCIL BUDGET 2010-2013
Mr Arbuckle’s reminded members that the deadline for responses to the Council’s current budget proposals was Friday 4 December. A short meeting had been held on 10 November to consider ELAPCM’s contribution to the consultation processs and it was agreed that, whilst supporting ELAPCM, it was important for Law Primary School Council to express its own views.
Mr Barnes pointed out that only those changes with an estimated value of at least £100,000 had been included in the document. Staff had met to consider it and their conclusions included freezing:
- Curriculum for Excellence
- CPD courses (unless they could be run in school)
- the production of glossy brochures, leaflets and pamphlets from ELC,
- new initiatives
- the introduction of free meals to all P1-3 children.
Reducing the number of corporate events at outside venues and charging parents for in-school music tuition were also favoured options but Mr Barnes said he was unsure how much autonomy he would have to make decisions.
Following discussion members agreed that the School Council’s response should be confined to those areas of particular interest, namely children’s services in general and primary school education in particular.
Replace some nursery school teachers with nursery nurses
These were critical formative years and any reduction in nursery teachers would have a dramatic impact on primary school staff because children would not be as well prepared for school.
Reduce primary schools’ staffing
The only way to achieve this would be to increase class sizes and any loss of teaching staff meant one of the Management Team taking on more classroom teaching.
Reduce number of management posts in schools/reduce management time in schools
The use of Business Managers was discussed and Mr Barnes said these could have been in place some time ago as they were in other areas of the county.
Increase use of composite classes
To achieve this every year stage would have to be dismantled.
Members felt that, whilst understanding the need to consider these areas, they were interdependent and further investigation and analysis of the consequences of implementing them were essential.
In addition to the Council’s proposals for increasing charges for evening lets and out of school care, it was suggested that there might be a cost saving to schools by looking at other facilities for lets. It was also felt that those areas where the Council charged less than other Councils, together with more outsourcing, should be examined.
Restricting the capital programme
Members accepted a reduction in the frequency of IT replacement was already being implemented provided this did not impact on core services and initiatives.
Members were interested to know how the proposal to redesign school meals service would impact on the Scottish Government’s manifesto pledge to provide free school meals for all P1-3 pupils. A reduction in school meals waste could also be considered.
Members agreed that there was considerable scope for savings by more efficient procurement arrangements but with regard to transferring schools into an educational trust or trusts, they did not know what the impact or significance would be further down the line. They were concerned at the lack of detail in the proposals
Following discussion, members agreed that they could not support proposals which would affect front line services but stressed the need to protect vulnerable and/or disadvantaged families. Early engagement in the consultation process was essential.
8.1 Efficiency Savings – Energy Costs
The roll out of AMR for electricity took effect from 1 October 2009 and was provided as part of the electricity supply contract. In terms of gas, this was currently out to tender and it was hoped to have the new contract in place from 1 April 2010. Mr Barnes undertook to clarify what effect, if any, the roll out of AMR for electricity would have on schools.
8.2 Licensing Laws
The recent changes to the law on licensing in Scotland were unlikely to impact on school councils.
9. DATE OF NEXT MEETING
Monday 18 January 2010 at 7.00 pm in the GP Room of Law Primary School.