Minutes 2004-03

Minutes of Meeting 31 March 2004

Meeting on Wednesday, 31 March 2004, at 7.00pm in the Staff Room, South Street Building.

Present: Mr A Ayton, Mrs M Brown, Dr C Dunn, Dr I Falconer, Mr J Flegg, Mr A Liggat, Mr D Macgregor, Mrs H Marriage, Prof P McKiernan, Mr C Palmer, Miss S Purves, Mrs E Rogerson, Mrs S Thomson.
In attendance: Mr LSG Matheson (Rector), Cllr W Sangster

1. Apologies: Cllr J A Liston, Mrs M Wilson (Clerk)

2. Previous Minutes (Meeting of 4/2/04) were approved, with the addition of Dr C Dunn to list of apologies.

3. Matters arising:
(i)School Bags/Lockers: Mr Palmer reported on a meeting with Mr J McLaughlin (Fife Council). A revised circular on weight of schoolbags was in preparation. Discussion on locker provision at Kilrymont Road ensued: Mr Matheson said Fife Council had offered £1 per pupil (£1800) towards such provision. Support had been offered by the PTA and pupil events might provide more. In all he hoped for between £4-5000 towards KR lockers – ‘a modest start’. The Chairman’s proposal to add any SB surplus was agreed.
The two pupil representatives agreed that S3 lockers should be provided first. Also raised was the possibility of parental sponsorship of individual lockers, which would be still available for rent at £5 per session. The unit cost of new lockers was £30. Cllr Sangster offered to investigate local trust funds for possible help.
(ii)Licensing of Vans: Cllr Sangster reported that the possibility of marking the KR bus bay ‘BUSES ONLY’ was being investigated by Fife Council Transportation Department. Existing chip van licences come up for renewal in July.
(iii) Blackfriars Pavement Lights: these are connected to the Madras College circuit. Money for repairs may be found by Fife Council which was costing the repairs. Mr Matheson reported that the Roads Department was thought to have taken over the matter. Cllr Sangster agreed to approach the Locality Manager for assistance from her budget if necessary.
(iv) Litter: Cllr Sangster said that the new wardens were working round the town centre and that Mr Roy Stewart (Env. Services) would be contacting the school. Mr A Liggat referred to the West Fife anti-graffiti campaign as a possible model.
(v) Draft Inclusion Policy: letters had been sent.
(vi) Meeting of School Board reps with Education officials, 17/03/04:
Mr Palmer reported on this useful meeting, at which the Education Service Plan 2004-8 had been presented. Officials had been asked difficult questions from the floor on various matters, including teacher recruitment/retention- there is a strong correlation between this and performance-and the role of Special Schools – the latter will stay open in Fife as will offsite centres for disruptive pupils. Questions from SBs of feeder primaries relating to the future of Madras College had been ‘robust’ and officials had struggled to give full answers, taking the line that they could only respond after the conclusion of the current review of educational provision.
Complaints were made about the high costs of Works Department repairs vis-à-vis private contractors. SBs were advised to write to Fife Council about this – probably the best time will be when the exercise on best value is being conducted, perhaps a year from now.
A document on SB training was to be issued.
(vii) Resignation of clerk: the Board wished to add to the minute its expression of great regret at the future loss to the Board.

4. Multi-cultural/anti-racist issues:
Mr Matheson reported on current arrangement for the recording of any such issues. There is now a standard database (diary) in both buildings for staff to record any issue that might arise. This procedure was also open to the SB. Pupils would normally report any issue to their guidance teacher.

5(a) Proposed staffing changes within ‘A Teaching Profession for the 21st Century’:
Mr Matheson said the school response was at a draft stage. Scotland was moving towards a quite radical change, whereby the ratio of promoted to non-promoted staff would drop from around 50% to around 25%. There would thus be fewer opportunities for promotion but the ‘baseline status’ of teachers should rise. The policy encourages teachers to become ‘Chartered’ which will result in a higher salary. This is good in theory but is (a) funded by the teacher him/herself [12x£600 modules] and (b) is done in the teacher’s own time. One member of the SB had started such a course but had been unable to continue because of time commitments. ‘Chartered Teacher’ courses cannot be started until after 7 years experience. Mr Matheson said that the initial difficulties required to be addressed if the scheme was ultimately to prove successful.

5(b) Loches Twinning:
This had been raised by Cllr Liston. Mr Macgregor said it was a complicated matter which perhaps did not directly concern the Board. Cllr Sangster concurred, and the meeting agreed to leave the item.

6. Correspondence:
Alcohol/Drugs booklets – ‘What Every Parent Should Know’. It was agreed that the Board write to obtain sufficient booklets for all Madras parents.
SSBA membership: it was agreed not to continue membership (£45).
A Consultation on the future of age and Stage Regulations(Scottish Executive): it was agreed to write supporting the school’s approval of Option C.
Being Well- Doing Well: this was a draft document at present.
Anti-Bullying Working Group: a Fife Council group, to meet every 6 weeks, to be formed from across SBs in Fife. No one was currently available to sit on the group.

7. Future Structure of Board: following on from the last meeting the Chairman asked for suggestions for sub-groups. Groups on New School Initiative & Transport, on Facilities, on Communication and on Health and Safety were provisionally formed. [A list has been given to the Clerk for circulation with e-mail addresses.] Future meetings would deal with introductory items, then adjourn into groups as required, to re-form as a plenum for the final items.

8. A.O.B. :
Mrs Marriage asked about limitations of choice for students starting AH courses. The Rector outlined the policy and accepted that sometimes numbers made course choice hard.
Dr Falconer asked if the Careers Fair should be timed to precede the S4/S5 choice deadlines.
She also asked if the Duke of Edinburgh Award presentations could be given a higher profile.
Mrs L Brown presented a paper about the staff overload which would be caused if (as an example) the Modern Studies Department lost one of its four members of staff. The remaining teachers would be enormously stressed. Any such staffing reduction could only impact adversely on Fife Council’s policy of raising attainment.
Mr Matheson said he recognised the ‘horrendous figures’ circulated. He explained the financial background, i.e. that the school had over the past two years run over budget on staffing costs because of absence and supply cover, and the school roll had now dropped below 1800, so that for the first time in his 18 year career as a head teacher he had to consider reducing staff numbers by transfer. In addition, Fife Council had agreed an 0.5% overall budget cut for education. He would however make use of the document in discussions with the head of Education. Mr Matheson indicated his great regret at having to consider staff reductions.
Mr J Flegg asked how smoking and drug abuse were policed at Kilrymont Road. Mr Matheson outlined the position, though pointing out that he was unaware of any sale of drugs there. Should a pupil be found with drugs, he/she would be excluded. On the question of smoking, there was discussion about the difficulties of enforcement.
Mr A Liggat expressed concern that the toilets should not be seen as ‘No Go’ area by some pupils because of other pupils illicitly smoking there.

Peter McKiernan, Chairman
MADRAS COLLEGE SCHOOL BOARD
Monday 10 May 2004
South Street Staff Room
At 7pm