Unauthorised Absences in Dundee Schools 2009/10

Commenting on figures for Unauthorised Absences in Dundee Schools 2009/10 made available as a result of a Freedom of Information Request.

The figures for unauthorised absences in Dundee schools are unacceptably high. Neither politicians in the city, nor schools, nor education directorate can be complacent about this. Every day a child is absent from school is a day of learning lost. Not only that, but when a child returns to school following a period of absence there is inevitably some disruption to teaching and learning in a class.

Parents and carers have prime responsibility to ensure that their child attends school. Schools have a responsibility to make sure education is engaging and relevant for pupils and of course to inform parents if their child has an unauthorised absence from school.

In some city schools the figures suggest that the total number of days lost is uncomfortably and inexplicably high. For example, in St Paul's Academy there were 8703 days lost to unauthorised absence in 2009/10. This averages out to about 8 days per pupil. This translates into 4% of schooling lost over the year. Of course averages disguise wide variation. So if, as I assume, the majority of pupils at St Paul's have very low rates of unauthorised absence in a year, then it follows that some of their pupils must have missed considerable chunks of their schooling without authorisation.

So, while I concede that there is a joint responsibility between parents and schools, what is the Education Convener, Liz Fordyce, going to do about this?



LIfeboat Carol Service St James' Church

On Monday evening the now traditional Christmas Carol Service at St James' Church in Broughty Ferry took place, which for me marks the real start of Christmas. This well attended service is also an important fundraiser for the Broughty Ferry lifeboat which benefits from the collection.

This year the seasonal snow outside added to the occasion. Inside it was the turn of Forthill Primary School Choir to perform for us. It was lovely to hear the children's rendition of some of the well loved Christmas songs and carols. Hearing the children singing 'Little Jesus Sweetly Sleep' was my particular favourite.

Undoubtedly, the congregation also gave generously to the funding of the lifeboat which tonight was thankfully not called out to a rescue but tied up on its moorings just beyond The Lifeboat Church.

Afterwards hot drinks and Christmas pies were served in the Church Hall.


SNP's Education Convener Should Explain her Education Cuts to Parents

Yesterday, I challenged the SNP's Education Convener to explain her proposed 19 education cuts to parents and carers in the city. I suggested that early in January, she should hold meetings across Dundee to explain the changes she is introducing to parents and carers whose children will be on the receiving end of these.

The SNP's cuts in the city will involve reductions in key parts of the education service and I think all schools will be affected. The Education Convener, Councillor Liz Fordyce needs to spell out what each of her nineteen cuts will involve. So far she hasn't explained the impact of what each of these will represent on the ground for the education of our children. This needs to be clear primarily to parents and carers as well as opposition councillors like me.

In last week's local papers the Education Convener, was asked about her city campus idea. This will apparently see senior pupils move round the city to take some of their higher examination courses at schools other than their own. On Wednesday last week, Councillor Fordyce revealed that she had not yet considered the transport arrangements and costs of moving senior pupils around the city. On Thursday, she also admitted that the coordinated timetabling necessary between the nine secondary schools in the city had yet to be worked out too.

Another area needing clarification is the impact of the early retirement savings. How many fewer teacher will be working in our schools as a result of these changes and how will each school be affected? For example, I understand that there will be an overall reduction in the number of support for learning teachers in primary and secondary schools. This will reduce the help available to children with learning difficulties. These are certainly not 'back office' jobs.

So I think Councillor Liz Fordyce should get out and explain her programme of cuts to parents in the city. I and my colleagues in the Labour Group are of course prepared to attend the meetings with parents I am urging her to organise. Before she says that we will need to wait until after the Council's budget on Thursday 10 February, parents do need to be informed now. All these changes may affect the school parents want to send their child to from August 2011. If parents want to send in a placing request to the Council, these need to be submitted by Monday 7 February.


Grove Academy Top Performing Secondary School in Tayside

Congratulations to pupils and staff at Grove Academy for achieving the best Higher examination results in Tayside this summer. They outperformed every secondary school in Dundee, Angus and Perth and Kinross, coming in 16th place out of 379 secondary schools in Scotland.

School Grove Academy Broughty Ferry

Rank 16th place out of 379 secondary Schools in Scotland

School Abs 1.2 %
- % unauthorised absences for S1 - 5

Meals 5.7% - % pupils registered for free meals

High1 60% -
% of the S4 year group from the previous year achieving one or more awards at A- C (SCQF Level 6) Higher or better

High3 42% -
% of the S4 year group from the previous year achieving three or more awards at A- C (SCQF Level 6) Higher or better

High5 25%
- % of the S4 year group from the previous year achieving five or more awards at A- C (SCQF Level 6) Higher or better

Will SNP's £4.5 million Education Cuts make the city's education service better?

Councillor Liz Fordyce, the SNP's Education Convener in Dundee yesterday made a startling statement to the Evening Telegraph about her 19 separate cuts in Dundee schools.

She "insisted budget cuts of more than £4million will make the city's education service better."

By her own logic, I wonder why she's holding back and not cutting the education budget by £8 million to make our schools even better!

Today, I want to examine, 'the city campus' idea for senior secondary pupils. This would see a narrower range of higher and advance higher classes offered in some secondary schools with pupils moving around the city to take subjects not offered in their own schools.

I fear that "the city campus" will make many of our secondary schools less comprehensive by siphoning off their pupils in the fifth and sixth years. This could lead to two tier secondary schools and a reintroduction of junior secondary schools by the back door.

The SNP have clearly not thought this through. Yesterday, their Education Convener revealed that she had yet considered the transport arrangements and costs of moving pupils round the city. This morning she admitted that the timetabling necessary between the nine secondary schools in the city had yet to be worked out too.

Half-baked and misguided or what?


Disastrous Double Whammy of Cuts in Education in Dundee

Despite Labour opposition, last night the SNP Council approved the cuts in Education imposed by John Swinney for a Council Tax freeze and also gave notice of their £4.5 million cuts that will be contained in their February budget.

This is a disastrous double whammy of cuts in Education in Dundee.

It's difficult to believe that these cuts have been carefully considered. According to the Chief Executive last night, SNP Councillors only saw and approved their City Council budget cuts at the second meeting of the Changing for the Future Board held yesterday afternoon.

I shall take up the offer from the Leader of the Council, to meet with, Liz Fordyce, the SNP's Convener of Education. I think parents in the city would expect that she should be able to supply me with a detailed written briefing on each of the 19 cuts she has chosen. If I am not satisfied with the details I receive, I shall demand to see the Director of Education.

This is just another disaster for Education in the City following the 6% reduction in the education budget this financial year. I don't think parents in the city will agree that an Education budget cut for next year of £4.5 million is a success.


Tenor Triumphs at Choral Union Concert

I thoroughly enjoyed the Opera Night gala performance by Dundee Choral Union, earlier tonight.

Under the baton of Norman Beedie, the choir sung a range of classic opera choruses augmented by the National Youth Choir of Scotland and accompanied by the Orchestra of Scottish Opera.

Welsh tenor Gywn Hughes-Jones provided some star quality. His performance of Verdi's Nessum Dorma provided a fitting climax to the evening. A thunderous round of applause persuaded Gwyn to perform an encore to an appreciative audience.

Dundee Choral Union was founded 152 years ago and is one of our oldest established cultural organisations in the city.


Santa Claus Visits Broughty Ferry Library on Saturday Morning

Santa Claus is taking time out from his busy schedule for a flying visit to Broughty Ferry Library between 10am and 12noon on Saturday 11 December.

Children of all ages are welcome.
Entry is free.

There will also be festive crafts.

Broughty Ferry Library

Queen Street
Broughty Ferry
tel 01382 436919

Promoted by Leisure and Communities


Sharp Reduction in Employment of Post Probationary Teachers

New statistics released by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) (see table) indicate a further reduction in the numbers of post-probationary teachers gaining permanent jobs in Scotland.

More specifically, the percentage of probationary staff who have obtained full time permanent posts has now fallen to just 16.1 per cent - a record low and it means that fewer than 1 in 6 new teachers get a full time permanent job. Also over a quarter of probationary teachers now have no teaching job at all.

These figures come only a week after the number of employed teachers in Scotland fell by another 800 – down by over 3000 since the SNP came to power - and the pupil teacher ratio rose again to 1 teacher to 13.3 pupils.

These figures demonstrate the damage being done to Scottish education and the careers of newly qualified teachers by the SNP's mismanagement of Scottish education. Highly trained and well-qualified teachers are being treated as a casualised workforce, obliged to look for work on a weekly or daily basis. Because the SNP has broken their promises on teacher numbers and class sizes, very few newly qualified teachers are obtaining permanent or even temporary employment.

Warm Pipes Happy Home

Scottish Water, have launched a campaign 'Keep your Pipes Warm This Winter'.

Their website contains lots of useful advice, including video clips about how to protect your home from frozen pipes.

If you do however experience frozen pipes, they also provide handy online tutorials on how to minimise the damage to your home and ensure your safety before your plumber arrives.


School Attendance Friday 3 December

On Friday 3 December six of the nine Secondary Schools reopened in the city following inclement weather which had closed all of the schools in Dundee. The following attendance figures have been supplied by the Director of Education, Jim Collins:

Craigie High School

150-200 pupils (21%) and 63 teachers (93%)

Grove Academy
500 pupils (47%) and 75 teachers (92%)

Harris Academy
400 pupils (36%) and 83 teachers (92%)

Morgan Academy
190 pupils (21%) and 67 teachers (91%)

St John's High School
100-150 pupils (14%) and 59 teachers (83%)

St Paul's Academy
80 pupils (8%) and 74 teachers (96%)

In addition
142 teachers from the three closed schools were able to report to the above schools.


Statement to the Education Committee - blanket school closures & staged reopenings

Earlier today I wrote to the the Education Convener, Councillor Liz Fordyce.
I wrote:
"Given the exceptional weather last week and the blanket school closures and the staged re-openings on Friday and today (Monday) I think it is important that you make a statement to the Education Committee tonight. In particular, I think parents and the members of the Education Committee want reassurance that lessons have been learned and solutions applied from last week and today which will improve how our schools operate tomorrow.

I have received numerous complaints this morning from parents across the city directly or passed on from my Labour Group colleagues. These have focused on the dangerousness of roads and paths outside our schools, the absence of school crossing patrollers and limitations on the scope for their work because of snow accumulations

More specifically I think parents will want to know:
  • how the safety of our children is ensured in the environs of schools including pavement clearing and gritting and the attendance of crossing patrol staff or when they are missing police officers;
  • processes of communication with parents and staff of arrangements for the closing and reopening of our schools and other education establishments and
  • use of the GLOW intranet for engaging pupils in their learning during a period of one week's lost schooling."
Liz declined to do make a statement to the Education Committee.

Residents Overlooked by Snow Clearing Suffer Vandalism to Their Cars

Residents in Carbane Drive in the Ferry have found their patience severely tested over the last week. They have found it almost impossible to drive in or out of their cul-de-sac because of accumulated snow and ice and an absence of a grit bin. On Sunday morning, they were still waiting for a snow plough to come down Wemyss Gardens and clear their way out to Balgillo Road. As a result, some residents had taken to parking their cars overnight on Balgillo Road. On Sunday morning, these residents were very annoyed to find that cars parked on Balgillo Road had been vandalised with wiper blades and aerials broken off.

One of the residents of Carbane Drive said,
"I am sure you can understand my frustration and anger - if grit had been delivered to the bottom as well as the top of the hill my car would have been safe and I would not be out of pocket. I would have been cheaper buying the grit myself rather than paying repairs. Unless of course I can deduct the cost of the repairs from a future council tax bill?"

Councillor Laurie Bidwell said:
"The perpetrators of this vandalism are mean and mindless. That residents vehicles became vulnerable to attack because of a lack of a grit bin and snow clearing near their owners' homes leads to questions about why it took so long for the Council to clear access to Carbane Drive. Thankfully, I understand that Carnbane Drive was gritted on Sunday afternoon. I shall expect that the request I made last week for the provision of an additional grit bin for Carbane Drive is now actioned so that these residents can help themselves to keep traffic moving in and out of their road when it snows again."


All Dundee Schools Intend to Open on Monday 6 December

Dundee City Council is intending to open all nursery, primary and secondary schools on Monday (December 6). This is dependent on weather conditions over the weekend.

Gritting and snow-clearing will continue over the weekend. Priority routes in the city are all passable and intermediate routes around schools are being treated.


Six City Secondary Schools to Reopen on Friday

In a press release this afternoon, Dundee City Council have indicated that: "Six (out of nine) city secondary schools will open tomorrow (Friday December 3). They are:
  • Craigie High,
  • Grove Academy,
  • Harris Academy,
  • Morgan Academy,
  • St John's High and
  • St Paul's Academy.
All other Dundee schools will remain closed on Friday. Pupils at schools which remain closed have an opportunity to work online through their Glow account where educational resources are available."

Apparently, teachers employed at the remaining three secondary schools in the city:
  • Baldragon Academy,
  • Braeview Academy and
  • Menzieshill High School,
have been temporarily redeployed to the nearest secondary school to their home address until their schools reopen.

Further updates will be posted on the council's website and through the council's Twitter feed


All Dundee Schools Closed on Thursday for Fourth Day on the Trot

In an update on their website at 5.30pm Wednesday 1st December, the City Council announced that:

"All Dundee City Council schools will remain closed tomorrow (Thursday December 2)
because of the continuing severe weather conditions, the forecast of more snowfall and issues with safe access."

Perhaps recognising that this closure will almost complete a week of lost schooling and some pupils will be sitting their 'prelims' soon, they added:
"Pupils have an opportunity to work on-line through their Glow account*."

I wonder whether our housebound teachers are expected to take advantage of accessing their Glow accounts* too?

Updates will be posted on the city council's website and via the city council's twitter feed

Glow is the world's first national intranet for education that is transforming the way the curriculum is delivered in Scotland.

All Council Offices and Facilities Closed Today Wednesday

The chief Executive of the council, David Dorward, has just emailed staff and elected members to advise that:

"I have decided to close all Council offices and facilities due to the deterioration in the weather overnight. This means that the City Chambers is also closed."


Schools Closed Wednesday and Council Update

All Dundee City Council schools will remain closed tomorrow (Wednesday December 1) because of the continuing severe weather conditions.

The following social work services will also be closed to service users on Wednesday: family support centres, learning disability centres and the Oaklands Day Centre for Older People.

The city council will be unable to make any bin collections tomorrow.

The Mitchell Street adult learning centre will be closed on Wednesday.

Gritting and snow-clearing will continue overnight. Additional employees will be redeployed during tomorrow to support the snow-clearing operations.

A total of 260 employees from waste management, Dundee Contract Services and leisure and communities will augment the clear-up.

Further updates will be posted on the Council's website and through the council's Twitter feed

Future of PE in Our Primary Schools

According to figures published today by the Scottish Government, Dundee is one of only three out of Scotland's 32 councils (along with East Renfrewshire and Perth and Kinross) delivering two hours of PE in all its primary schools. But how long will this position be maintained in Dundee when the future of the visiting (mobile) PE specialists who work with groups of Primary Schools is in doubt?

These additional teachers, with specialist PE qualifications, work alongside the generalist class teachers in the Primary schools. It is rumored that just like the art and drama specialists, whose jobs disappeared in the Education cuts for this financial year, the team of visiting PE specialists are likely to be next in line. I think this would be a big mistake. This would not only diminish opportunities for our primary pupils to engage in 'quality physical education' as part of their school curriculum but also diminish opportunities to foster healthy and less sedentary life styles. Unfortunately for our primary school pupils, this looks likely to another target missed and another broken SNP promise on education.


School Closures and Disruption to Sevices Tuesday 30 November

All Dundee City Council schools will remain closed tomorrow (Tuesday November 30) because of the continuing severe weather conditions.

The following social work services will be closed on Tuesday: Family Support Centres, Learning Disability Centres and the Oaklands Day Centre for Older People.

There will be no bin collections on Tuesday.

Further updates will be posted on the council's website
and through the council's Twitter feed

Press Release Date: Tuesday 30 November 2010

Dundee One of UK Areas Most Vulnerable to Spending Cuts

Research released today by the Ernst & Young Scottish ITEM Club shows that Dundee City is one of the top five* local authority areas in Scotland most likely to be adversely affected by the cuts in public expenditure.

The report ranks local authority areas based on the risks posed to each by cuts in public spending, combined with the ability of each local economy to mount a positive response.

I hope that the SNP administration running the City Council are thinking hard about this as they bring forward their programme of cuts in local services in Dundee.

*The other four local authority areas are: Midlothian, East Ayrshire, Inverclyde and Clackmannanshire.


Severe Weather - Dundee School Closures Monday

Following a period of severe weather conditions and the forecast of continuing snowfalls, a decision has been taken to close all Dundee schools on Monday 29 November.

Dundee City Council Press Release Date: Sunday 28 November 2010

Further information on the status of school closures will be updated as decisions are taken.


Walkabout Inspection with Forthill Tenants' Group

On Wednesday morning, I accompanied members of the Forthill Tenants' Group and Council staff from the Housing and Roads Departments on a walkabout around the Forthill area. This provided an opportunity to locate any issues that needed attention and to track what had happened to previously reported matters The Forthill Drive flats (see picture) are 'four in a block' with the distinctive black iron railings and gates. The general condition of the external public and private environment is very good. I noticed many very well tended gardens as we walked round. Some of the concerns expressed by residents, such as parked cars on pavements, are partly because the narrow estate roads are having to cope with a volume of car ownership not envisaged when the estate was built.

Having a regular walkabout seems like a good idea which I think should be tried in other parts of Broughty Ferry. I will raise this at the next meeting of the Broughty Ferry Local Community Planning Partnership.


Eastern Primary School Relocation - Decision Time

After a long tussle at the Education Committee earlier tonight (Monday evening), the proposal to relocate Eastern Primary School to the former Grove Academy buildings was approved. But the Education Convener, Liz Fordyce, did not have it all her own way and had to offer a major concession to Opposition Councillors from the Ferry. This took the form of establishing a Project Management Board with parent and resident involvement.

I am convinced that this concession was extracted by dint of the visible and vocal objections from parents/carers and residents with an interest in the relocation of Eastern Primary School, whose concerns I was also able to represent a the Education Committee.

The outstanding concerns that had stirred residents and parents/carers to contact me and other Councillors in The Ferry were principally about child safety, traffic management and securing the educational benefit of the relocation. As Eastern Primary School will effectively become part of an education campus with Grove Academy, it seemed important that Grove staff and parents were also included on the Project Board. After all, the Grove and Eastern staff and pupils will be using the same footpaths and roads to access their school.

The Project Board will be Chaired by the Chief Executive, David Dorward and will comprise:
  • elected members (Convener of Education and four Ferry Councillors),
  • Director of Education,
  • the Head Teachers of Eastern Primary School and Grove Academy,
  • 2 Parent Council members from each of Eastern Primary School and Grove Academy,
  • I Teacher Union representative,
  • I Community Council representative,
  • a representative of Tayside Police and
  • any other relevant Council officer as the Director the Director of Education and the Chief Executive deems appropriate.

The first meeting of the Project Board will be held in December and the Board will stay in place until after Eastern Primary School has relocated and until the members are satisfied that measures to secure pupil safety and mitigate traffic management issues were effective.

While this is a victory for common sense in Broughty Ferry, it is also an important precedent. Previously it was only the new build schools projects in the city that have had this level of project management with input from parents and community.

Half Measures Won't Do for Eastern Primary School Move

Since the papers for tonight's Education committee were released last Monday, I have been contacted by a stream of constituents who are very concerned about the half measures in the report about the Proposed Relocation of Eastern Primary School to the Old Grove buildings. Their concerns are not only about road safety in the vicinity of the Grove Academy campus but also about the enduring educational benefits of the proposed move.

Parents and community objectors are disappointed that many of the concerns they expressed, during the public consultation, about pupil safety have been ignored in the Report to the Education Committee tonight. There were already strong concerns expressed at the meetings of the Grove Academy Parent Council well before the Eastern Primary School proposal arose in June. Two of the Grove Parent Council members produced an Audit of Traffic and Pedestrian Safety in the vicinity of Grove Academy. Both of these members are very well informed with one working as a Senior Police Officer in the Traffic Division of Tayside Police and the other working in the Transport Division of Perth & Kinross Council. Recommendations in their report about modifications to the narrow section of Seafield Road between its junction with Davidson Street and the service entrance of Grove were missing from the final report about the Eastern move. Of course this same area would be shared by many parents dropping off and collecting children from Eastern Primary School, its after School Club and its Nursery.

The education benefits of the move of Eastern Primary School are largely based on the superior quantity of indoor classroom space in the old Grove building such as the provision of a dedicated Art Room and a Computer Suite. But the benefits to the Eastern Primary pupils would be short lived, if the school expands. The option mentioned in the report, of moving from two form to three form entry could only be accommodated by using these specialist rooms as mainstream classrooms. The Director of Education writes in his report there are no plans for introducing three form entry at the relocated Eastern Primary School. But the Education Convener let the cat out of the bag on Friday. Commenting on the pressure on primary school places in the The Ferry arising from proposed new housing developments north of the Arbroath Road, Councillor Fordyce said:

"Of course the schools will be able to cope. If the council agrees on Monday night and Eastern Primary goes into the old Grove, there will be more room."
(quoted in the Courier on Friday 19 November)

Since the roll of Eastern Primary School has not been under pressure in the last few years, it would need a change of its catchment area with Forthill and Barnhill Primary Schools to draw in more pupils zoned to Eastern. But this was brushed aside by the Education Convener who

“... rejected the suggestion school catchment areas may need to be adjusted to accommodate more children.”
(quoted in the Courier on Friday 19 November)

If Councillor Fordyce looks at the map of the catchment large scale private housing developments, that will generate growth in pupil numbers, are north of the Arbroath Road and the schools currently zoned for these areas are Forthill and Barnhill Primary Schools and not Eastern Primary School.

If the Education Convener wants to avoid the conclusion that SNP Councillors in the city are prepared to dole out half measures for the Ferry Schools, she will need to think again about how this project will be progressed.


Brook Street and Gray Street Temporary Closure Thursday 25 November 3-9 pm

Public Notice

The Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 - Section 62

The Dundee City Council as Traffic Authority being satisfied that traffic on the road should be prohibited by reason of the Broughty Ferry Christmas Lights switching on event hereby prohibit the driving of any vehicle in:

  1. Brook Street (between Fort Street and St Vincent Street), Broughty Ferry.
  2. Gray Street (between Brook Street and King Street), Broughty Ferry.
This notice comes into effect on Thursday 25 November 2010 between the hours of 3.00pm and 9.00pm.

Alternative routes for vehicles are available via Fort Street/ Queen Street/St Vincent Street.

Access will be maintained where possible.

For further information contact (01382) 433168.


Meeting of The Ferry Local Community Planning Partnership,

Last night (Thursday 18 November), I attended the quarterly meeting of The Ferry Local Community Planning Partnership (LCPP). This is always a useful meeting to attend, to hear about the plans and proposals of City Council services and other agencies such as Tayside Police, Tayside Fire & Rescue, Broughty Ferry Community Council, Broughty Churches and voluntary groups.

This time our meeting was held in the modern Church Hall in Pamurefield. At the meeting, we were able to hear about arrangements for a public consultation meeting run by Broughty Ferry Development Trust. At their next meeting, on Wednesday 8th December beginning at 7 pm at Castle Green, a feasibility study will be presented on providing facilities at the sandy beach in line with the wishes of the community and to replace the derelict bathing shelter. There will be a presentation of the Feasibility Study by Nicoll Russell and time for questions from the floor.


Tayside Deaf Association 116th AGM

On Wednesday evening I attended a very attended Annual General Meeting of the Tayside Deaf Association (TDA). During the last year, I had been nominated by the City Council to sit on the Board of TDA, so this was my first AGM. Tayside Deaf Association has been providing services for over 100 years to deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people and their families in Tayside. In fact this was their 116th AGM.

I was very impressed with the organisation of the annual general meeting with a parallel BSL signer and a verbatim record of contributions typed up and projected onto a display screen to ensure inclusivity.

It was reported to the AGM that Tayside Deaf Association is currently exploring a merger with Deaf Action. Before that is finalised, a Special General Meeting will be convened, possibly as soon as Spring 2011.


Broughty Ferry 2010 Christmas Lights Switching On Thursday 25 November 6:15 - 9:00pm

Broughty Ferry Traders' Association have announced that the traditional switching on of the Christmas Lights in the Ferry will take place on Thursday 25th November 2010 from 6.15pm-7.30pm.

Festivities will include:
  • the light switching-on event,
  • Christmas carol singing from the children of Eastern Primary School,
  • Horne's Carnival,
  • Radio Tay and
  • a Lady Ga Ga Tribute.


Brook Street, Fort Street & Gray Street Temporary Closure Sun 21 - Wed 24 November 6-10 pm

Public Notice

The Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 - Section 62

The Dundee City Council as Traffic Authority being satisfied that traffic on the road should be prohibited by reason of the erection of the Broughty Ferry Christmas Lights being carried out hereby prohibit the driving of any vehicle in:

  1. Brook Street (between Fort Street and Gray Street), Broughty Ferry.

  1. Gray Street (between Long Lane and King Street), Broughty Ferry.

  1. Fort Street (between Long Lane and King Street), Broughty Ferry.

This notice comes into effect on Sunday 21 November 2010 for 4 evenings between the hours of 6.00pm and 10.00pm.

Only one section of road will be closed at any one time.

Local diversion routes will be available for each closure.

Access will be maintained where possible.

For further information contact (01382) 433168


Grove Move Up League Table of Top 50 Scottish State Secondary Schools

Congratulations to staff and pupils at Grove Academy for their eminent position in The Sunday Times Definitive Guide to Britain's Top Schools published yesterday. Grove was placed in 24th place in the table of Top 50 Scottish State Secondary Schools, up four places from 2009. The 2010 league tables have been calculated by comparing results of pupils who sat their SQA highers and standard grades 2007-9. The tables are further proof of the consistent improvement of pupils at Grove Academy in SQA examinations in S4-6.


Remembrance Day and Sunday in Broughty Ferry

At 11am on Thursday 11th November, I attended the Armistice Day service around the war memorial cross just outside Grove Academy's main entrance on Claypotts Road.

Of particular significance this year was the re-siting of the two metal memorial plaques listing the Grove pupils who had died in the First and Second world wars.

The picture shows the wreaths of poppies laid at the memorial cross, just after the service of remembrance had been concluded. The two additional plaques have been installed on plinths which have been set into the bank down Grove's pedestrian access path running from the main entrance of the school down to Claypotts Road.

Earlier today, I attended the Remembrance Sunday service at St Mary's Episcopal Church in Broughty Ferry.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

For The Fallen Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)


Barnardos Fundraiser at The Friary

Yesterday evening I attended a most enjoyable fundraising event at The Friary in aid of Barnardos Scotland. The evening was organised by teachers and pupils at Baldragon Academy who raised over £2000 for the charity. It was good to see school staff, pupils and their families turn out to support the charity. Baldragon pupils and former pupils provided a good part of the entertainment. which included sets from the Baldragon Soul Band and the Baldragon Big Band.


Signing Shelter's Declaration to Make Housing Matter

Earlier to today, I was in City Square to meet Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland. Graeme was here to invite politicians in Dundee to support Shelter Scotland's campaign to make housing matter in the Scottish budget and make building more homes for affordable rent a national priority.

I have completed my postcard calling on the SNP's Finance Minster, John Swinney, to prioritise and protect funding in his Scottish budget next week. This would not only be good for folk on long waiting lists for affordable homes but also help to create and maintain jobs in the building industry in Dundee.


Draft Air Quality Action Plan out for Public Consultation

The City Council has published its Draft Air Quality Action Plan for Dundee. In its introduction to the consultation on the Council's website it has made the following arresting statement:

"Assessment of local air quality in Dundee has established that levels of two pollutants, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulates (PM10), are exceeding the health-based objectives set out by the Government.

Road traffic emissions have been identified as the main source of air pollution. Dundee City Council has declared the entire City as an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA). The Council has prepared a Draft Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP). The AQAP outlines actions and measures to improve the air quality."

Your feedback will help the Council to take into account your views to refine the measures in the Air Quality Action Plan.

Read/download the Draft Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) Leaflet (2 pages)

Read/download the Draft Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) Full Report (71 pages)

Link to Online Questionnaire for your feedback

End date for consultation Tuesday 7 December 2010


Changes to Tax Credits and Council Staff

At the Policy & Resources Committee on Monday 8 November 2010 I made the following speech in support of my motion on Changes to Tax Credits and Council Staff:

"Convener, I have placed this item on the agenda tonight because it is anticipated that a significant proportion of our staff will be effected by changes in Tax Credits introduced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, in his budget in June 2010 and the subsequent Comprehensive Spending Review last month.

While the post Spending Review public debate has focused predominately on changes to Housing Benefit, especially in high rental areas of the UK, especially London, the effects of changes to Tax Credits has hitherto received less attention. This is surprising because the accumulated cuts in Tax Credits are much larger in cash value than the reductions in Housing Benefit. Perhaps this is because many of the Tax Credit changes are complex measures which the think tank, The Resolution Trust has referred to recently as “stealthy changes”.

Now I think we all know that Tax Credits, introduced in 1999 are a form of means tested cash benefit that is paid through the payroll by employers to their employees in households living on low to modest incomes – defined as between £12,000 and £30,000 per year. The award in calculated by Her Majesty's Revenues and Customs on an annual basis. For single parents and couples with children there are childcare allowances,currently up to 80% of allowable costs.

Changes in Tax Credits include:
  • uprating tax credits in line with the consumer price index rather than the retail price index, which has been historically higher;
  • reducing the opportunity to backdate claims from three months to one month;
  • reducing tax credits faster as incomes rise and
  • increasing the minimum working hours for couples with children from 16 to 24 and the minimum number of hours worked by one partner in the couple from 16 to 18.
So this group of our staff like other citizens in a similar position face a quadruple whammy:
  • living with job insecurity;
  • stagnation in the their earnings;
  • significant price inflation, especially on food and heating and
  • reduction and withdrawal of key benefits such as tax credits introduced over a period of time.
Most starkly, some of our part time and job sharing staff may find they no longer work the necessary hours to continue receiving tax credits in their pay packets. As soon as they lose entitlement to tax credits their entitlement to a proportion of their child care costs will also go. It is for this reason that I have brought forward this item to request that the Council explore what we can practically, do as a major employer, for members of our workforce who may be effected by these changes."

The motion (see below) was adopted by the Committee unanimously.

Motion for Policy & Resources Committee Meeting

Changes to Tax Credit and Council Staff

This Committee instructs the chief Executive to undertake a review to ascertain the number of Council employees potentially affected by changes in Tax Credits, as announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his June 2010 Budget and the October 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review. This review should focus particularly, but not exclusively, on the increase in the minimum hours threshold for qualifying for Working Families Tax Credits.
Furthermore, the Council, explores ways it might mitigate the negative effect of these changes on its employees to be disqualified from Tax Credits when the qualifying conditions change. Finally, that the Chief Executive reports back to the Policy & Resources Committee.


West Ferry Conservation Area Appraisal - Out for Consultation

The Planning section of the City Development Department has issued for public consultation the updated West Ferry Conservation Area Appraisal.

The purpose of the consultation process is to raise awareness of the proposal and to address the public’s views prior to a finalised decision reported to Dundee City Council’s City Development Committee.

Copies of the Conservation Area Appraisal document can be viewed at:

Broughty Ferry Community Library - Queen Street,
Central Library - The Wellgate Shopping Centre and
Floor 2 Tayside House - Crichton Street.

Alternatively the document (24 pages) can be viewed or downloaded using the following web link

Consultation responses shall be required to be submitted prior to the close of business on Friday the 10th of December 2010. Responses can be submitted in writing to the address below marked “Consultation Response”. Alternatively responses can be e-mailed to

If you have any queries, comments or suggestions feel free to contact the
City Development Department, Development Management, Dundee City Council,Floor 15 Tayside House, Crichton Street, Dundee DDI 3RB
Telephone 01382 433105 Fax 01382 433013


New Olympia Swimming Pool Construction Starting Soon

Earlier this evening, at the Policy & Resources Committee, we approved the acceptance of a tender for the construction of a new city centre swimming pool. The new pool complex will be constructed on the Allan Street car park site. Work on the £24 million pound contract will begin in January 2011. The contract includes provision for competitive and leisure swimming as well as a multi-storey car park. After the new swimming centre opens, towards the end of 2012, the old Olympia can be demolished as part of the redevelopment plans for the city centre waterfront.


Winning Design for the V&A Museum in Dundee

This morning, the winning design for the V&A Museum in Dundee, by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, was announced.

Lesley Knox, Chair of the V&A at Dundee project and of the jury panel said:

"We were delighted by the quality of all the designs which were submitted to the competition and I think this is reflected in the huge public interest which our exhibition of models has generated,

Kengo Kuma's proposal was the unanimous choice of the jury panel and is a worthy winner; a building that will delight visitors and encourage them to revisit it again and again. It demonstrates a clear understanding of the city, offers a new experience of the river, and will be as exciting internally as it will be externally.

This has the potential to be one of Europe's most exciting buildings."

The winning architectural practice will now engage with the partners in the V&A at Dundee project to further develop the proposal. Detailed design work will continue throughout 2011 and work is projected to start on site in autumn 2012.

I hope that the development of the V&A in Dundee will not only bring an iconic building and world class museum and gallery to the north bank of he Tay but also attract other investors to engage with the completion the City Council's waterfront redevelopment and thereby bring more employment to the city.

Eastern Primary School Consultation Report Published

In a press release dated Friday 29 October 2010, the City Council announced that the 'Consultation Report on Proposed Relocation of Eastern Primary School' had been published.

This report summarises the consultation process and contains the response of HMIe to the proposal.

The report is available to read or download at

It has been published as part the consultation process under the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010.

Printed copies are available from the reception at floor 2 of Tayside House, and also Eastern Primary School and Grove Academy.

Comments on this report should be forwarded to the Jim Collins, Director of Education

Dundee City Council's education committee is expected to consider the proposed move of Eastern Primary into the former Grove Academy building at its meeting on Monday 22 November 2010.


Next Meeting The Ferry Local Community Planning Partnership 18 November

The Ferry Local Community Planning Partnership
Next Meeting
Thursday 18 November 2010
Panmurefield Village Church beginning at 6.00 pm

A g e n d a

1. Welcome and Apologies
2. Previous minute and matters arising

3. Community engagement/events diary 2011
4. Local Community Plan Update

- Community facilities and open spaces
- Community safety/youth issues
- Mental Wellbeing

- Beach Management Group
- Friends of the the Sandy Park, Balgillo
- Broughty Ferry Development Trust
- Shanwell Wildlife Rescue proposal for rugby terrace
5. Department/agency/organisation update

6. Open forum on community issues

7. Date, time and venue for 2011 meetings

Further information available from:

Angie Hastie, Communities Officer
tel 438594 (Mon-Wed only) email


Violent Incidents Against Dundee School Staff 2009/10

A comprehensive set of figures for violent incidents against school staff in Dundee have been supplied by the City Council in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from D C Thomson:

The headline figure is a total of 557 violent incidents against School staff, mainly teachers.

This is broken down by types of establishment as follows
Pre-school centres of education - 6
Primary schools - 283
Secondary schools - 112
Special schools - 146
Offsite centres - 2
Behavioural support - 8
Total 557

I am surprised and alarmed about three aspects of these figures.

Firstly there is more than a doubling of reported incidents compared with previously figures released to DC Thomson in 2009 which were as follows:

2009/10 - 557
2009 - 276
2008 - 245
2007 - 345
2006 - 353

This apparent surge in reported incidents is very concerning. Unless I can be convinced that this has been caused by changes to the system of recording of violent incidents, it is hard not to conclude that we have a growing problem in our schools. A steeply increasing number of violent incidents against school staff is unacceptable, although I concede that this still involves only a minority of our pupils.

In addition, I am very concerned that a majority of the incidents recorded were in our primary schools (5-12 year olds). This does not bode well for the future.

I also notice that the Police were only notified 5 times from those 557 incidents. Does this indicate that our schools are overly reluctant to involve the police? I wonder how many of these incidents, had they taken place on the street, would have been deemed to be common assaults.

We don't want a blackboard jungle in our schools.
What measures will the Education Convener, Liz Fordyce, introduce to respond to my concerns, which I am sure are shared by many parents in the city?