Present: Simon Cunningham (Chair) SC Debby Biddles (Vice Chair) DB
Lesley Cook (Secretary) LC Cllr R Robertson RR
Joanne Scott JS Cllr Mary Montague MM Julie Roberts JR Susan Millar SM
Ellie Murphy EM Fiona Leathem FL
Debbie O’Shea DO Ruth Alexander RA
Observers: Angie McHendry AMc Brian Maclachlan BM
Lynn Sweeney LS Beverly Eades BE
Tennant Stevenson TS
Apologies: Lisa Gold (Treasurer), Fiona Dempsey, Fiona Needleman, Joanna Teuton, David McLeish, Alison McCosh, Annette Ireland, Nick Addington
Minutes and Matters Arising
Proposed by: DB Seconded by: TS
Update from the Chair
SC welcomed everyone to the meeting. He introduced Mrs Lynn Sweeney, Acting Depute Head Teacher, who was attending as an observer and Beverly Eades who was attending for the first time.
He thanked everyone involved in the 2nd successful Netherlee Primary ‘Road Safety’ event which took place on Friday 24th February. He praised the Junior Road Safety Officers (JRSOs) enthusiasm, exemplary behaviour and excellent manner when approaching parents/carers who were found to be waiting/parking inappropriately/dangerously around the school. He had noted that the Community Wardens were now patrolling the Pavillion car park more frequently and moving ‘overspill’ cars.
SC informed the meeting that he had been at the National Parent Forum meeting in Edinburgh on Saturday 11th March. One of the topics discussed was the new ‘National Standardised Test’ and he learned that the Scottish Government had been impressed with the current East Renfrewshire model. SC has been co-opted onto their working group for the new ‘National Standardised Test’.
MM agreed wholeheartedly with SC’s comments that it had been a very successful ‘Road Safety’ event. She concurred that we must keep trying to send these crucial messages to the minority of parents/carers who continue to disregard the importance of safety around the school. She was delighted that ‘The Extra’ had carried the event and that the JRSOs were suggesting alternative places to park/wait when talking to parents/carers and on the literature handed which they were handing out.
MM informed the meeting that she had spoken with ERC and that, barring any objections to the proposal, new ‘Controlling Orders’ to regulate parking and waiting in the Pavillion car park would come into force. This would result in the Community Wardens being able to issue penalty fines to anyone not parked within the marked bays. She had also bid for and been successful at securing £10,000 to augment the already high profile JRSO/Parent Council (PC) campaign specifically to make one or two paths around the Pavillion car park to remove the need to walk across the middle of the car park. Together with the ‘Controlling Orders’ for which signage will be provided by ERC it was felt that this was another great step towards improving safety.
In addition to this, MM had spoken to the head of ‘ERC Roads Department’ and had bid for and secured £20,000 for Road Safety measures around all East Renfrewshire Schools. She explained that this could, for example, be used by PCs to work in partnership and bulk buy banners for displaying messages. She reported that St Marks Primary in Barrhead have an excellent ‘Road Safety’ campaign and it might be beneficial to contact them. The organisation ‘Road Safety Scotland’ has agreed to support PCs and the Evening Times newspaper is intermittently raising the profile of ‘Road Safety’ which we could also utilise to maintain the profile of our campaign.
SC wished to Minute our sincere thanks to both MM and RR for their continued support with the ‘Road Safety’ campaign and especially to MM for her work in securing the above funding and (hopefully) successful ‘ERC adoption’ of the Pavillion car park.
ACTION: SC will raise the ‘Road Safety’ issue at the next ERC PC Chairpersons meeting.
SC thanked everyone involved in the 2nd successful Netherlee Primary ‘Road Safety’ event which took place on Friday 24th February. He will feedback to the JRSOs on Tuesday 21st March and listen to their feedback. There will be another ‘Road Safety’ event after Easter before the end of the session. It is the plan to continue the focus on ‘Road Safety’ and repeat the events next session to maintain the high profile.
A few days before this PC meeting, at the end of the school day, SC noticed a Fire Appliance which was unable to access Linn Park Court due to traffic congestion. The appliance had to park up on the grass. SC spoke to the crew and Appliance driver who acknowledged the access difficulties on school days between 3.00 and 3.30pm and offered the assistance of the Fire Service with any future events. SC invited anyone else (children, parents, staff) with any good ideas to help with the Road Safety campaign or wording for the banners to communicate these to him or to the JRSOs.
SC has spoken with Annette Ireland who is keen to set up a ‘Walking Bus’ from the Ormondes. There is also a list of 20-25 children who wish to be part of a ‘Walking Bus’ from the Stamperland area, however parents/carers are required to organise a rota and supervise this and, as yet, no parents/carers willing to share this commitment have come forward.
ACTION: SC will liaise with Giffnock Primary who have a ‘Walking Bus’ scheme and will discuss this at the next PC Chairs meeting. This is to gain an understanding of how it is managed and operates.
ACTION: Once there is an understanding of how this operates, SC will send an email to all parents/carers to explain the ‘Walking Bus’ scheme and its operation. This will request coordinators and explain that a just a little commitment from all parents/carers wishing their children to be involved would enable ‘Buses’ to operate perhaps two to three days a week at the outset with a minimal commitment from parents/carers.
RR suggested that it may be worth making contact with Shona Frazer, ERC ‘Head of Road Safety’ and set up a meeting with her, other PC members, a JRSO, LS and a representative from Whitelees Wind Farm. The Wind Farm has a significant sum of money annually from which it will make donations to certain local causes. This could be put to good use to help with ‘Walking Buses’ or perhaps for a barrier at the staff car park.
AMc agreed that the Windfarm may like the idea of supporting ‘Greener’ projects such as the ‘Walking Buses’ and that its new budget of around £200,000 would likely be released in August.
ACTION: SC to arrange to meet with Shona Frazer or another representative from ERC Roads Department, DB, LS, RR, AMc and Ryan Moffat before local council elections on 4th May 2017 to discuss ideas and costings to support Netherlee Primary’s Road Safety campaign.
SC asked if members of staff using the staff car park could have an identifiable notice on the dashboard so it was clear who should be approached for inappropriate parking?
ACTION: JS agreed to action this.
JS reported that pupils had performed extremely well at the Glasgow Music Festival this year: the Senior Performance Choir achieved 2nd place in their Class whilst the Orchestra and Lunch Bunch (Woodwind Band) both won their Class. Congratulations to all involved in these great achievements. She added that there were also some musically talented children who had entered individually but as yet she had not been made aware of any progress. She reflected on the wide variety of musical opportunity now available to all pupils at school having recently passed a classroom where P7s were creating music, singing and having a great time.
Rehearsals for ‘The Lion King’ are well underway. There are many P6s and P7s involved both on stage and back stage.
SM asked if Mr Watson is now the school’s full-time music teacher?
JS explained that he was recruited by Netherlee last summer as a full-time teacher. He teaches music 3 days each week and 2 days each week has additional responsibilities. The school also has Mrs Becky Roberts and Mr Stephen West who teach woodwind instruments and lead the Orchestra and Lunch Bunch. Mr Watson has started a Samba Band, a Ukelele Band and Ceilidh Band, some of which will feature at the upcoming Spring Concert.
The vacant Deputy Head teacher post has now been advertised and a date set for interviews.
Next session (2017/18) it is likely that Netherlee will again have four Primary 1 classes. Given that only three Primary 7 classes are leaving, that will take the school to 26 classes, the maximum capacity for classrooms. There are no stages at which current pupil numbers allow a reduction in the number of classes.
RR asked if there had been any placing requests. JS was not aware of any at present but added that some may be made before the start of next session.
JS informed the meeting that she had advertised for 3 new class teachers. One for the new class, another as 2 teachers had requested to go part time and the third with monies from the ‘Pupil Equity Fund’.
Pupil Equity Fund
The Scottish Government’s Attainment Challenge has allocated funds directly to Head teachers to close the poverty-related attainment gap. Guidelines are available to help direct its use. Funding has been based on the number of free school meals across the school using historical data for P1-3 and current data for P4-7. Netherlee Primary’s allocation is £31000 per year for at least 4 years. It is not solely for the use of the small group of children within the poverty gap, but for the benefit of all children. The additional teaching resource will be able to focus both on the small group of children and on ‘raising the bar’ for all children. There will need to be accountability for the monies spent and evidence of the benefit it provides.
RR added that the Scottish Government will be looking for evidence and feedback that it does make a difference. JS agreed that results will be scrutinised.
Parental Involvement in Maths Homework
SC and LS thanked those parents and carers who had attended the successful and very useful Maths Consultation event. LS explained that the views of parents/carers and staff had been considered under 3 topic headings: What currently works well, what doesn’t work well and what could be done differently. There was general agreement that parents/carers want to be aware of the ‘core strategies’ for each stage, P1-P7, and the outcomes which are expected.
JS added that she also spoke with some groups of children. Several of their issues mirrored those expressed by parents/carers. These included:
i) positive feedback about the flexibility of being able to do homework on evenings to suit and to be handed in on Fridays
ii) they liked ‘Sumdog’ but would also like other types of Maths homework
iii) a clear understanding of the importance of numeracy in wider life
iv) some concern that parents/carers were causing confusion by showing different ways to solve Maths problems
v) would like more time to revise concepts
vi) all stages would like to work alongside older/younger classes on Maths topics in addition to that already done with Literacy. JS said that teachers would explore this possibility.
Mobile Phone Policy
The Netherlee Primary School handbook states that children should not have mobile phones in school. JS recognises that times have changed and that some parents/carers require that their children have phones for before/after school arrangements. She wished to canvas the views of PC members as to whether it was acceptable to allow pupils to have mobile phones so long as they are switched off and in the school bag before entering the playground and not switched on again until after 3.15pm and pupils are out with the playground. Under no circumstances should a mobile phone be switched on and accessed during the school day. Mobile phone use can and has already led to problems and children must be taught to use them responsibly. The school will play its part with that.
EM stated that she felt it important that clear guidelines are issued as many children now own phones and bring them to school. It would be helpful if parents know and can reinforce school rules.
LC asked if these rules would also stand for events out with school hours but within the school building e.g. PTA discos? It was generally felt that this should be the case.
AMc added that all opportunities to remove risk to our children must be taken and that she could not imagine anyone objecting to phones being switched off during the day whilst on school premises, e.g. removing the risk of inappropriate photos being taken whether during the day, at social events after school or in the evening.
JS was grateful for the general consensus that mobile phones, if brought to school, should be switched off whilst inside the school grounds/building during the school day and should not be switched on until after school and out with the playground after school. Neither should they be used in the evening when at school at sports or social events.
Social Media Policy
SC reported that at the ‘Parent Council Chairpersons’ meeting in February he learned that any School Parent group with a Twitter or Facebook account MUST have and abide by a Social Media Policy. Both Netherlee PTA and PC have Facebook accounts.
ACTION: SC will meet with Chairperson & members of Netherlee PTA, EM, DO and will liaise with Janice Collins, Head of Service for Education at ERC to understand current ERC policy and use as a template for Netherlee.
AMc asked if advice was given to children about safe use of Social Media as part of the curriculum?
JR confirmed that it was.
LS added that basic information about Social Media was shared at a recent assembly and that Ryan Moffat, the Campus Police Officer, had covered it with some of the older children’s year groups.
RA asked that if bullying happens out with school due to Social Media, and it filters into school, can school help to deal with it?
JR replied that yes, school can and previously has had to become involved in such an issue.
AMc added that Police Scotland is currently giving a lot of focus to this. It is hugely resource intensive but necessary as ‘Cybercrime’ is increasing. It is great that the Campus Officer is supporting the school with this.
Change of date of May Meeting
The last PC meeting of the session was originally scheduled for 24th May. Unfortunately JS and JR are no longer able to make this date so the proposed alternatives are Wed 17th or Wed 31st May.
ACTION: SC to email all PC members to agree most suitable date and will communicate this to all.
RR wished to praise the enthusiasm of all the P7 children and the quality of discussion following the final P7 debate at the Council Chambers. As in previous years the children were a real credit to the school.
JS thanked RR for his kind words.