Headteachers Fear Pupils Are Being Held Back by Lack of Resources

Teacher in the classroomAccording to evidence in the international PISA survey:

"Scotland’s headteachers fear pupils are being held back by a lack of resources. Almost half (45%) believe they do not have enough teachers, and a third say there are not enough support staff and materials."
The Scotsman 6 February 2017

The shortage of teachers in Dundee schools won't be eased just by providing more cash to our Headteachers. Too many of our schools in Dundee report difficulties attracting suitably qualified teachers to fill their current vacancies. This is chiefly because there are not enough training places for teachers in our Universities. 

The responsibility for this Teacher shortage, lies with the Scottish Government. Cabinet Secretary for Education, John Swinney MSP, and his predecessor SNP colleagues have failed in their workforce planning. It's not good when the political leadership of Education in Scotland are clearly so poor at maths.


Replacement Post Office for Central Broughty Ferry One Step Nearer

Run A Post Office
I am pleased to see that the Post Office have lost little time in advertising Broughty Ferry Post Office. I am sure that many constituents will be relieved to know that steps are being taken for a Post Office to reopen in central Broughty Ferry.

It was a shock for customers and the staff  when the Gray Street Post Office shut without warning recently. I understand that the Post Office is looking for a like for like replacement and not downgrading the range of services that might be on offer. 

This time, when the franchise is granted, I hope care will be taken in choosing a more central location on one of the main streets south of the railway line. This would, I think, be mutually advantageous for the health of the Post Office business as well as for customers shopping in central Broughty Ferry."

Link to Franchise Advertisement


Dispute Over Abrupt Changes to School Crossing Patrol on Forthill Road

Forthill Crossing Patrol Campaign 
Last week a Crossing Patroller was abruptly removed from her stance crossing school children over Forthill Road close to its junction with Balgillo Road. The well regarded Lollipop Lady had an outstanding record of crossing children at this road junction, over Forthill Road as well as Balgillo Road. At her post for close to twenty years, a single complaint led to her being moved to a crossing point at another school and the crossing of Forthill Road hastily removed as a crossing point. 

The staff of Tayside Contracts, who supply and manage this service for the Council should have red faces. They claim that the crossing over Forthill Road was not an official crossing point but apparently did not notice the dual crossing in practice when they undertook a comprehensive risk assessment and review of every school crossing control point in the city before they took over the contract in 2016?

Angela Lyall, one of the parents whose children's routes to school is affected has been gathering signatures to have the well loved Crossing Patroller reinstated to her crossing control point and the crossing over Forthill Road reinstated. She and seven other parents have gathered more than 300 hundred signatures. It seems the Crossing Patroller is paying for the lapses in supervision by others. The dedication of our crossing patrollers is impressive in return for earning a little over the minimum wage and turning out whatever the weather week in week out.

I strongly requested a meeting about this which will be taking place at Forthill Primary School this morning. If Tayside Contracts want to remove a crossing patrol point, there is an agreed consultative procedure and they are not following it. The continuing safety of our children is paramount. 

If there isn't reasonable progress at the meeting tomorrow, I will refer this to the next meeting of Children and Families' Service Committee.


Pupil Equity Funding for Dundee Schools

Pupils in Scottish Primary School
The Scottish government has announced details of how much money each school in Scotland will receive to close the attainment gap in 2017-18.

It was Scottish Labour which first put closing the attainment gap with extra funding onto the agenda in the Scottish Parliament – but we would have paid for it by asking the richest 1 per cent to pay a little more with a 50p top rate of tax. Instead, the SNP is taking it by perversely cutting the pre-existing schools budget.

The SNP sums simply don’t add up on schools funding. Ministers cannot cut the gap between the richest and the rest while they slash £327 million from Council budgets across Scotland.

Head teachers will see this new funding alongside shrinking budgets, so it’s simply SNP spin after £1.4 billion of cuts since 2011.

Labour has a better plan to close the attainment gap – our MSPs will table amendments to the Scottish budget to use the new powers of the Scottish Parliament to stop these cuts and invest in education instead.

Allocation of Pupil Equity Funds for Dundee Schools 2017-18

Primary Schools
Ancrum Road Primary School £116,400
Ardler Primary School £79,200
Ballumbie Primary School £193,200
Barnhill Primary School £31,200
Blackness Primary School £57,600
Camperdown Primary School £147,600
Claypotts Castle Primary School £200,400
Clepington Primary School £165,600
Craigiebarns Primary School £76,800
Craigowl Primary School £159,600
Dens Road Primary School £130,800
Downfield Primary School £150,000
Eastern Primary School £60,000
Fintry Primary School £152,400
Forthill Primary School £44,400
Glebelands Primary School £82,800
Gowriehill Primary School £49,200
Hillside Primary School £76,800
Longhaugh Primary £154,800
Mill Of Mains Primary School £81,600
Our Lady's RC Primary School £54,000
Rosebank Primary School £57,600
Rowantree Primary School £205,200
Sidlaw View Primary School £120,000
St Andrew's RC Primary School £108,000
St Clement's RC Primary School £88,800
St Fergus' R C Primary School £57,600
St Joseph's RC Primary School £60,000
St Luke's and St Matthew's RC Primary School £135,600
St Mary's RC Primary School £118,800
St Ninian's RC Primary School £62,400
St Peter and Paul RC School Primary £142,800
St Pius' RC Primary School £102,000
St Vincent's RC Primary School £126,000
Victoria Park Primary School £76,800

Secondary Schools
Baldragon Academy £122,400
Braeview Academy £117,600
Craigie High School £126,000
Grove Academy £70,800
Harris Academy £182,400
Morgan Academy £182,400
St John's RC High School £175,200
St Paul’s RC Academy £201,600


Resurfacing of Shopping Centre Car Parks in The Ferry

Resurfacing work at Sainsbury's, Dundee January 2017Yesterday I went up to Sainsbury's supermarket for some shopping and couldn't help but notice that the car park was being resurfaced section by section. The lines for the parking bays were also being neatly repainted.

It reminded me that when new owners took over the Campfield Square shopping centre, they promised to undertake work to upgrade the car park which is rutted and the parking lines are badly worn. 

A constituent complained to me last week about the traffic direction arrows painted on the car park surface which are now so badly obscured. She has noticed that in the absence of clear signage, cars are being driven around the car park in a clockwise and anti clock wise direction and this is an increased hazard for pedestrians.

I have written to the management company in Glasgow to urge them to get on with upgrading their Campfield Square Shopping Centre Car Park.


Craigowl Communities Recruiting 16-24 year olds for Hospitality Academy Beginning Monday 20th February

Craigowl Communities Hospitality Academy 1
Craigowl Communities Hospitality Academy 2
Craigowl Communities reports that, "we have already had a great group of learners through our training centre doors this year." 

"They've learned lots of skills from gaining new qualifications to using our Barista machine to make delicious Lattes and Cappuccino's to experiencing what excellent service looks like at a local restaurant."

"Our next Hospitality Academy starts on Monday 20th February and we are welcoming applications for this now.  Please find attached information flyer and application form. The course is open to all 16-24 year olds who have an interest in learning more about what it takes to work in the Hospitality industry."

Any queries please don't hesitate to get in touch with:

Jacqueline Gray, Academy Coach, Craigowl Communities, 
The Learning Place, 235-237 Hilltown, Dundee, DD3 7AN
Tel Office 01382 200744 Mob 07841782421
Email JacquelineGray@craigowl.com Web www.hillcrest.org.uk


Successful Launch of Broughty Ferry Men's Shed

Launch of Broughty Ferry Men's Shed Saturday 28 January 2017Earlier today, I attended the launch of Broughty Ferry Men's Shed in a building to the rear of the Broughty Ferry YMCA.

Despite the drizzly rain, a good number of men turned up to find out more about what a Men's Shed might be and to take the opportunity to sign up to get involved.

If you are interested in getting in on the ground floor establishing the first Men's Shed in The Ferry, please contact Nick Toner at the YMCA.


Broughty Ferry Post Office Closed Yesterday

Broughty Ferry Post Office closed with effect from Wednesday 25 March 2017 
On Wednesday morning I became aware that the Post Office hosted in the NISA Local store at the corner of Queen Street and Gray Street in Broughty Ferry had abruptly closed.

I went round there to discover that the only information about the closure was a printed sign directing folk, 'Your nearest Post Office is Barnhill at Campfield Square'.

Clearly this will be very inconvenient for the many customers that use and rely on this Post Office and turn up to find that inexplicably the doors are shut.

Later, I contacted the Post Office who confirmed the closure but as yet could not confirm the timescale for the advertisement of the franchise. I had hoped that the existing post office staff and counter might be temporarily relocated to another premises in the central Broughty Ferry shopping area to preserve the post office service and the jobs of the staff. 

I will continue to pursue the Post Office management to try to ensure there is a replacement full service post office in central Broughty Ferry and minimise the time for this to be established.


Replacement Street Lights for Home Street

Installation of new street lights in ppHome Street, Broughty Ferry,

This week work began in Home Street to replace the street lights. 

The Tayside Street Lighting Partnership are installing more energy efficient LCD lights which are also predicted to reduce maintenance costs because of the longevity of the 'bulbs'. This is part of a 'spend to save' programme.

If you have any concerns about the adequacy of Street Lighting in your Street please let me know. 

Faults in existing street lights should be reported directly to the Street Lighting Partnership 
Dundee City Council - Street Lighting Partnership


New Sunday Bookbug Session for Broughty Ferry

New weekend Bookbug Session coming soon to Broughty Ferry!

Start date: Sunday January 29th at 4.00pm. Thereafter every last Sunday of the month.

Location: St Mary's Episcopal Church, Queen Street, Broughty Ferry DD5 1AJ (just up the hill from the Post Office Bar).

Bookbug Sessions are free, fun and friendly events for babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers and their families to enjoy together

Each session lasts around 30 minutes and includes songs, stories and rhymes. There's no need to book and they take place in a very relaxed environment.

Going along to a session is a great way to meet other mums, dads, carers and children.  They also have lots of benefits for your child, such as building up their confidence and social skills, and will give their speech and language development a real boost!

Come and join us - you'll be warmly welcomed to the session.


Sign Up Day at Mens Shed at Broughty YMCA

Sign Up Day for Broughty Ferry Men's Shed
On Saturday 28th January, from 11am, YMCA Brougthy Ferry, Broughty Ferry Timebank and Rosendael Veteran's Association will be pleased to welcome the local community into the workshop-in-progress in the grounds of the YMCA.

Those with an interest in making and creating, skilled or unskilled, are all invited to sample and shape the Men's Shed at YMCA Broughty Ferry.
YMCA Broughty Ferry 
151 Brook Street, Broughty Ferry, DD5 1DJ


Commenting on Additional Attainment Challenge Funding for Dundee Schools

The Scottish Attainment Challenge Logo
Earlier this week, I welcomed the news that Dundee Schools will share an additional £5m of government funding for financial Year 2017/18 to help to close the attainment gap. I am advised that every one of our schools will gain some of the funding which will be shared out according to to the number of pupils in each school entitled to free schools meals. This was originally a Scottish Labour proposal in early 2015 which has since gained all party support. But the original proposal was for additional funding rather than funding to partly compensate for cuts to main stream budgets for our schools.

There are however a number of details yet to be announced which I think Head Teachers, Parent Council members and members of the Children and Families' Service Committee will want to know.

For example how long is the funding likely to last? Will the money be distributed direct to schools or via the Council? How will the spending be monitored and will the schools or the Council be held responsible for this investment? What can our Directorate and Children and Families' Service Committee members do to support our schools?

Notifying head teachers with only a matter of weeks before the spending can commence is potentially a recipe for rushed planning and delayed spending. We saw the latter in the City with the delayed appointments to new posts created by the first tranche of Attainment Challenge projects. Although the Council received approval for its scheme in late August 2015 some staff were still to be appointed in April 2016.

Finally, the Convener of the Children and Families' Service Committee should also clarify the scale of the Council cuts to the mainstream schools budget for 2017/18. If I were a Head Teacher, before I celebrated the additional funding coming from one hand, I should want to also know what funding my school might be losing from the other.


Commenting on Weapons Confiscated from Pupils in Dundee Primary and Secondary Schools 2011-16

Knife confiscated at school
The five year figures from Dundee City Council, of school pupils having an offensive weapon in School show a worrying increase in these incidents from none recorded in school year 2011-12. Additionally, Police Scotland have revealed that between 2013 and 2015, there were 11 incidents recorded across nine high schools in the city where Police had been been informed of a dangerous weapon at school.

Children should not be carrying weapons anywhere — let alone into schools. Even one occasion is too many as the the tragic death of the Aberdeen schoolboy Bailey Gwynne has demonstrated.

When the Report of the Independent Inquiry into the Death of Bailey Gwynne was issued in October last year, I wrote to Michael Wood, the Executive Director of Family and Children's Service,  asking when he would be coming forward with a report to Committee mapping out how best we should respond in Dundee to the recommendations in the Inquiry Report in order to try to prevent such a fatality in our schools.  He confirmed that the Directorate were in the process of considering the various recommendations in full discussion with headteachers.  He also committed to bring a report to committee.

I think parents and carers as well as City Councillors need to know more about how our schools are responding to the Independent Inquiry into the Death of Bailey Gwynne and the incidents behind these statistics about pupils, albeit a very small minority, who have been found taking potentially offensive weapons into our schools. We have all been kept waiting long enough for this report to appear. I am calling on the Executive Director and the Convener of the Children and Families' Service Committee to make sure this report appears before the end of this month.

Link to my earlier posting about the Independent Inquiry into the Death of Bailey Gwynne which was issued in October 2016


Maintenance in Play Areas and Open Spaces

Children's Play Area Castle Green Broughty Ferry
At the Neighbourhood Services Committee last night, maintenance work in play areas and open spaces throughout Dundee was agreed. In The Ferry, this includes:

Castle Green Children's Play Area
Replacement of steel framed suspension rope in the children's play area


Claypotts Park
Part replacement of North side existing chain link fence.

I am sure residents who make regular use of these open spaces will appreciate this investment, when work gets underway in the next few weeks.


Community Feedback and Planning Event for Broughty Ferry

Engage Broughty Ferry Event January 2017 The event is to highlight the findings of the recent Engage Broughty Ferry Consultation and to look at how individuals and groups can help deliver solutions to the issues raised.

This is also an opportunity for local organisations and partners to bring information which highlights the range of opportunities already available in the Ferry.

Please confirm with our Communities Officer, Carole Jenkins, whether you or your organisation will be able to attend on Wednesday 25 January and if you are bringing information with you. 

A snack lunch will be available from 1pm.

Carole Jenkins - Communities Officer
e-mail carole.jenkins@dundeecity.gov.uk
telephone 01382 436929