01 September 2023

Education and Children's Services Committee August round-up

Education and Children's Services Committee August round-up 

Financial overview
Director of Education & Children’s Services Laurence Findlay provided an update on the service’s financial performance to the committee. 

Petition for consideration – 'withdrawal of Chapelton to Newtonhill school transport provision'
Members considered a petition by members of the community against the withdrawal of the bus service in Kincardine and Mearns. 

Committee heard from the petitioner who said the community disagreed with the council’s road safety assessment and the decision to cancel the bus service between Chapelton and Newtonhill. 

Members debated the matter at length and agreed that child safety must be given the utmost consideration at all times. It unanimously agreed to instruct the Head of Education to provide a report for a subsequent meeting of the committee into road safety and transport arrangements and to meantime reinstate the bus service until a substantive decision can be made following consideration of that report.

Merger of Fraserburgh North School and St Andrews School into a New Primary School in Fraserburgh
Committee members agreed to proposals to close the existing Fraserburgh North School and St Andrews School and merge them into a new primary school once building work is completed at the Fraserburgh Academy site. 

The final decision will be made at full council later this month. Councillors heard in general there was strong support for the new school and the opportunities it will provide for pupils. 

Committee praised the education service for the depth and breadth of engagement it has carried out to-date with pupils, parents, staff and the wider community on the proposals, but stressed that ongoing engagement was essential in the future.

Clatt School mothballing update
The committee agreed that Clatt School would remain mothballed for a further year and members also agreed to officers preparing an option appraisal for the property to decide what to do with the building. A report will be presented to the committee next year.

Statutory Consultation on the Secondary Catchment Anomaly Rezoning Lumphanan
Members agreed to launch a consultation on the rezoning of Aboyne Academy catchment to include an anomaly area of Lumphanan School catchment currently zoned to Alford Academy.

The consultation will run from September 5 until November 3. As part of the consultation there will be a public meeting at 6.30pm on September 14 at Lumphanan School.

Excelerate - An Investment by the Wood Foundation
Members considered Excelerate - an investment of more than £1 million by The Wood Foundation - which has been delivered in partnership with members of the leadership team within Aberdeenshire Education and Children’s Services. 

Having worked in partnership with the Wood Foundation over the past four years, nine secondary schools in Aberdeenshire are now Excelerate schools, namely Aboyne, Alford, Banff, Kemnay, Mackie, Mintlaw, Peterhead, Portlethen and Turriff.

The goal of the investment is to provide schools with education experiences – such as work placements and community projects – which better prepare all students for life after school.

Alison McLaughlin of the Wood Foundation told the committee that the investment is founded on three years of intensive research into international education models, showing the impact of progressive and innovative structures that prioritise knowledge-engaged, rather than knowledge-rich, education. 

Members agreed to a workshop covering areas such as joint governance, accountability, sustainability, and preparing young people to enter the workforce.

Adoption Service Annual Report 2022-23
Members were presented with a report highlighting the developments within the service and the ambition to progress further positive change to benefit children and young people who need adoptive families. There was strong praise for the Adoption Services team for the excellent work and support it continues to provide across Aberdeenshire.

Children's Services Plan Annual Report 2022-23
Councillors considered the annual report of the Children's Services Plan. The report highlighted the strong partnership approach within Aberdeenshire, resulting in improved wellbeing outcomes for children and young people. It also highlighted the joint inspection of services for children and young people at risk of harm rating the partnership as ‘very good’. 

Children and Young People's Services Plan 2023-26
Members of the committee were given an update on the plan which provides information on how local services plan and deliver support to children, young people and families across Aberdeenshire; to make sure they get the right support, at the right time, by the right people.

Chief Social Work Officer Annual Report 2022-23
Chief Social Work Officer Leigh Jolly presented her annual report for 2022/23, covering all aspects of social work and social care and highlighting the challenges and achievements for all partners, including social workers and social care providers.

Corporate Parenting Annual Report 2022-23
Committee members were also presented with a progress report made by the council and partners who work collaboratively to improve outcomes for care experienced young people.

Aberdeenshire Local Child Poverty Action Report 2022-23
Committee members acknowledged the progress made with the plan to reduce child poverty and heard about the different programmes and interventions in place to support families.

There was a full discussion around the issue and a number of points were fed back to the service for further investigation and action including how to effectively tackle rural poverty and where does it fit into the tackling poverty agenda.

They also asked that the team looks into encouraging the development and sharing of good practice – with one example being through the use of Pupil Equity Funding.

There was also an ask that the six priority families groups identified by the Scottish Government be adopted into the council’s approach.

You can read all the reports and watch the recording of the meeting here