Aberdeen Parent Council Forum Monday 14th November 2016
Meeting for Parent Councils Town House, Aberdeen
Minutes of Meeting
PC Reps: Margaret Davidson (Aberdeen Grammar), Erik Aasterud (Aberdeen
Grammar), Susan Pirie (Bucksburn Academy), Jonathan Scott (Mile End),
Colm O’Riordan (Aberdeen Grammar), Stuart Young (Airyhall), Frances
Reid (Hazelhead Primary), Donna Clark (St Machar Academy), Tony
Rafferty (Cults Academy), Chika Obi-Ofodile (Charleston), Pauline
Glendinning (Charleston), Martin Munday (Ashley Road), Louise Bruce
(Brimmond) and Linda McKessick (Bridge of Don Academy and
Other: Lynn Scanlon (Aberdeen City Council) and Alex Nichol (SNP Councillor)
Apologies: Angela Bowyers (Aberdeen Grammar), Julie Murdoch (Tullos) and Aurelie
Irving (St Joseph’s)
Sederunt and Apologies for Absence
Margaret welcomed everyone to the meeting and passed on the apologies received.
There were no announcements
Intimation of Any Other Competent Business
No intimations of AOCB
Declaration of Interest
No declarations of interest
Approval of the Minutes of the Previous Meeting
No objections were received and the minutes of the last meeting were approved unaltered.
Aberdeen City Council Update
• Anti- knife /weapon strategy– this is currently in a draft form and goes beyond the 16 recommendations which came out of the enquiry into the tragic incident at Cults Academy. The draft strategy is going to the Education Committee on Thursday 16th November 2016 for approval.
• The main areas of the strategy include:
o Putting additional curricular resources into schools
o A parental strand
o An online pledge which pupils will sign, promising not to carry knives.
o A community strand
o A pupil voice strand
The draft strategy was created in partnership with the Northern Alliance.
• Curriculum for Excellence levels – these are being uploaded for the first time this year and cover the whole of Scotland. Level achieved will be reported for all pupils within the broad general education phase of education.
Primary and Secondary School Meals Surveys
The council has recently run school meal surveys. There was one for Primary School pupils and parents and one for Secondary School pupils. Secondary schools were given a survey they could share with parents but the main focus was on the views of pupils. They received 3982 responses from primary pupils, 331 responses from primary parents, 208 responses from secondary pupils and none from secondary parents. The results are currently being collated and feedback will be received in due course. Concern was raised about the low level of response and the lack of awareness amongst primary and secondary school parents. Margaret advised that Secondary School parents at the Termly Parent Meeting run by Aberdeen City Council expressed an interest in taking part in a meal survey, unaware that one had been run. Parents are welcome to email feedback at any time to FacilitiesTeam@aberdeencity.gov.uk. Action: Lynn Scanlon to ask the Catering Manager if he will re-open the surveys and arrange for them to be more widely publicised. She will feed back to Margaret.
Update on the Aberdeen Children’s Service Plan 2017-20
Aisling McQuarrie advised by email that she is currently drawing together all the feedback she had received from various PC across the city. Once she has reviewed it and identified the key themes, she will feed them into the wider report which is due to be drafted mid January. She hopes to be able to come back to the APCF in the new year to highlight some of the findings from the consultation. She extended her gratitude and thanks to all PC members who have been so engaged and supportive.
National Parent Forum of Scotland Update
• Colm provided feedback from the last NPFS meeting which was attended by John Swinney, Depute First Minister of Scotland and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills. The Scottish Governments main priorities are Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC), Curriculum for Excellence and Developing the Young Work Force. Steps to achieve this include:
o Reducing the workload on teachers by tackling bureaucracy.
o Close the attainment gap between those from more deprived and less deprived circumstances.
o Creating benchmarks and standards for National 4 qualifications to ensure they are not undervalued.
o Decluttering curricular advice
• The Governance Consultation was discussed. The Government is considering:
o More decision making at school level.
o More regional/professional collaboration.
o Ensuring national, regional and local bodies have value.
• A discussion on the Governance review followed this overview, allowing Colm to gauge the opinions of those present; with a view to sharing them will NPFS colleagues and Mr Swinney at their next meeting. Mr Swinney has stated he is open minded and prepared to have his opinions changed. Some of the points raised were:
o Concern devolving more decisions to school level and increasing the work load for Head Teachers could make it even more difficult to recruit them.
o Concern that Head Teachers recruited in the future could be financial leaders rather than those with a child centred approach.
o Concern about lack of accountability, as at the moment we elect our councillors and allow them to make decisions on education. If we are not happy with their decisions, we can choose not to elect them again.
o Concern that a regional approach would mean that parents in Aberdeen would find their voice reduced. The level of parental involvement experienced in Aberdeen, e.g. parents on the Education and Children’s Services Committee and Council officers attending APCF meetings, are not common place in other areas.
o Concern that some of the Council Tax money paid in by Aberdeen residents will be diverted to the central belt where there are more areas of deprivation. It was pointed out that there are pockets of severe deprivation in Aberdeen.
o It was felt that closer collaboration between Aberdeen City and Shire would be a good idea and that parents would not be concerned if the City and Shire were brought together. They would not be concerned if Aberdeen became part of a larger region
• Early years – steps being taken to improve the training, salary and status of early years practitioners. Work force planning is being undertaken and it is acknowledged there is an issue with supply and demand.
• Communication with parents regarding standardised assessment to be improved by including the NPFS who will get the information out to parents.
• Tony spoke about a new booklet from Families Outside called My Diary and issued everyone present with a copy. As any one time, 27,000 children will have a dad in prison. My Diary aims to help children and young people come to terms with the fact that a member of their family is in prison. It was agreed it was a very good publication. Tony has worked with Donna Cuthill to ensure copies go into every school.
ECS Committee Update
Tony advised that members would be voting on a number of items and canvassed the opinions of those present as to how our reps should vote.
• Adoption of the council’s strategy regarding weapons in school – to vote to accept this.
• The rezoning of part of the St Machar zone to Northfield – no objections have been raised so agreed to vote for this.
• To remove a dual zoned area for Airyhall and Broomhill to the Broomhill zone. Airyhall PC raised an objection as they are concerned about pupils having to cross North Anderson Drive to get to school. Stuart noted that a small pocket of housing would remain with Airyhall even though they are closer to Broomhill. Agreed to vote for the re-zoning with a possible amendment to rezone the small pocket of housing to Broomhill for fairness.
• Remove a dual zoned area for Broomhill and Ferryhill to the Broomhill zone. No objections so agreed to vote for this.
Tony advised there have been no changes in the APCF accounts. Colm is due expenses for attendance at the NPFS meeting in Edinburgh and the accounts are currently being audited.
No additional items discussed.
The next meeting will be on Monday 23rdth January 2017 in the Town House, Broad Street, Aberdeen at 6:30pm.
Subsequent meetings will be held on:
• Monday 29th May 2017
• Monday 11th September 2017
• Monday 13th November 2017