12 October 2023

Education and Childrens' Services Committee round-up

During its meeting on Thursday, October 12, Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee chair Cllr David Keating welcomed Susan Smith to her first meeting after being appointed as the new Head of Education.

Cllr Keating went on to congratulate Monymusk Primary School being awarded Scots School o the Year at the Scots Language Awards. You can read more about the awards here.

He also congratulated all the young people who were recognised at last week's celebration of the success of care-experienced young people.

ECS Financial Performance Report as at 31 Aug 23
The committee considered and commented on the latest financial figures for the service, noting the revenue spend forecast is currently £6.849 million over budget.

Councillors heard that the service continues to monitor and take appropriate ongoing actions to ensure it achieves a balanced budget position by the end of the financial year.

The committee heard that £3.67 million of the £4.22 million worth of savings previously agreed remain on target to be achieved and that the capital budget is currently under budget by just over £700,000.

Chapelton to Newtonhill Primary School Transport - Safe Walk Route to School
Following a petition at the last ECS meeting against the withdrawal of a school bus service between Chapelton and Newtonhill, councillors once again considered the issue.

Having requested a further report in August into the safety of the walking route to school, Aberdeenshire Council carried out a further assessment.

The route was deemed safe for a child, accompanied by a responsible adult, by a qualified road safety auditor.

Following a lengthy discussion and a motion to retain the bus service, members endorsed the recommendation within the report for the withdrawal of the school transport service in line with the council policy.

Annual Report of the Kinship Care Service 2022-23
The committee considered and commented on the annual report for Aberdeenshire’s Kinship Care Service, which supports Aberdeenshire’s most vulnerable children who are looked after away from their parents. The report also looked at the services available to assess and support carers. 

Social Work Manager (Corporate Parenting) Andrew Dick told the committee that the kinship service supports 195 children and young people within 154 kinship families.

He continued: “Aberdeenshire Council's children's services places significant emphasis on supporting families to remain together whenever that's possible.

“However, on the occasions where it's not safe or appropriate for children to remain at home with their parents, consideration would first be given to whether there are family or friends who'd be in a position to care for them.

“Children's services social work has statutory responsibilities to assess and intervene where there is identified risk, balancing that with minimum intervention in the lives of children, young people, and their families.

“Kinship care affords young people the opportunity to be cared for by people who are already familiar to them, when it's not possible to live at home and thereby endeavouring to minimise the trauma that's associated with moving outwith the care of parents.” 

National Improvement Framework
The committee discussed and approved the Aberdeenshire National Improvement Framework Plan for 2023/2024.

The National Improvement Framework identifies five key priorities for action:

•    Placing the human rights and needs of every child and young person at the centre of education. 
•    Improvement in attainment, particularly literacy and numeracy.
•    Closing the attainment gap between most and least disadvantaged children.
•    Improvement in children and young people’s health and wellbeing.
•    Improvement in employability skills and sustained, positive school leaver destinations for all young people.

These priorities are interwoven and connected to other plans and drivers within ECS, including its Education Business Plan.

ECS Carbon Budget - Six Monthly Update
A six-monthly update outlining ECS’ Carbon Budget was discussed by councillors. 

There was a wide-ranging discussion, including the requirement for increased ventilation, as per the Scottish Government guidance, impacting on a school's ability to reduce energy use, alongside a discussion about single use plastics.

You can read all the reports and view the webcast of the meeting here.