31/03/2011

Edith's Wartime Scrapbook - Barnhill Primary School Show


On Tuesday evening I was entertained by P6/7 pupils from Barnhill Primary School. As part of their thematic study of the Second World War, they were performing Edith's Wartime Scrapbook on the stage at Grove Academy. This musical drama featured a series of wartime memories of Edith, now in her eighties, as she delved into her childhood scrapbook 1939-45. The part of Edith was played by Caterina Hutchison. This was a demanding role as she was on stage for the entire performance and had a considerable number of lines to remember and deliver. The other stand-out feature of the show was the fine blend of singing, dancing and acting into an engaging and enjoyable performance. Applause from the audience and smiles on the faces of the young performers conveyed our mutual enjoyment.

Interest in performing Edith's Wartime Scrapbook was triggered by a thematic study of the 1940s. As part of this curriculum for excellence project, Sergeant  Laurence Young MBE, of the King's Own Scottish Borderers, visited the school last November and shared his reminiscences of the second world war. He also took part in the show, in the final scene, when those who did not return from war were remembered.

This was not only an impressive learning experience in the classroom but also in the staging of the play.

30/03/2011

Dundee Golf Competitions this Summer at Caird and Camperdown Golf Clubs







Sponsored Golf Competitions organised by the Leisure and Communities Department this summer in partnership with Caird or Camperdown Golf Clubs:

Camperdown 18 hole Golf Course
Saturday 4th June Stuart Patrick Cup 07:30am - 12:00noon
Sunday 5th June J. R. Ritchie Ladies Rosebowl 10:00am - 12:00noon
Sunday 14th August Lord Provost’s Charity Cup Scratch Matchplay Championship 07:00am - 1:00pm
Thursday 18th August Ladies Two Ball Foursomes Trophy 10:00am - 12:00noon
Saturday 10th September Autumn Cup, 1st Round 07:00am - 12:00noon

Camperdown Pitch and Putt Course
Friday 8th July The Camperdown Park Junior Open for The David Low Cup 12:00noon - 3:00pm

Caird Park 18 hole Golf Course
Friday 22nd July The Caird Park Junior Open for the Whytock Cup - Angus County Order of Merit 1:00pm - 3:00pm
Sunday 11th September Autumn Cup, 2nd Round 07:00am - 12:00noon

29/03/2011

Extension and Refurbishment of Barnhill Primary School - Education Committee 28 January


Extracts from my contribution to the debate at the Education Committee last night - Monday 28 March

"I have asked for this item to be brought to the Education Committee because, 'as it says on the tin', I want you to agree tonight to the preparation of a feasibility study for the extension and refurbishment of Barnhill Primary School with a report back to Committee by November 2011.


With confirmed demand for school places a growing issue in the catchment area of Barnhill Primary School, it makes sense for the council to revive its plans to refurbish and extend the school in a manner similar to the recent extension and refurbishment of Forthill Primary School. This could not only expand the capacity of the school to cope with an growing demand for places for children who live in the catchment area but also upgrade facilities in the school that are already stretched.


The catchment area of Barnhill Primary School includes the recently completed, Balmossie Brae development north of the Arbroath Road and Panmurefield up to the seven arches viaduct and old Dundee – Monikie, Forfar railway embankment. The catchment area map shows that there is a large portion of undeveloped north of the Arbroath Road. This is currently with an agricultural use but all lying within an area designated for future development, designated at the instance of this council. So we need to provide the services necessary to cope with demands for Nursery, Primary and then Secondary Education. In fact we have already extracted a considerable income stream from from section 75 agreements we entered into with developers in order to help fund primary schools. This is right and proper since Primary Education is valued as a locally accessed service which is in reasonable distance for children and their parents and carers to access.


Apart from the growing volume of housing in the catchment area, there are two other reasons why I believe that demand for places is growing.
  • Firstly the unique option of parents in Barnhill, sending their children to Grange Primary School in Angus with a guaranteed option of then progressing to Grove Academy has come to an end. Parents living at an address inside the Dundee boundary that might previously have considered this option, would be wary of ending up with their children leaving Grange Primary School and having neither a guaranteed place at Grove Academy in Dundee nor a guaranteed place at Monifieth High School in Angus.
  • Secondly, as President Clinton, famously said, ”It's the economy stupid”. When I was convener figures were produced by the Directorate with a High School Of Dundee discount. That is that is was expected that some children that might otherwise have entered our schools would go private. But given the economic uncertainties, I think that this is now much less likely. I am also politically of the view that public services, shouldn't be second rate nor a last resort if you can't afford to go private.
What about the current accommodation in Barnhill Primary School? Well the nursery classes are accommodated in temporary huts which is unusual in Dundee Schools. And the current Dining Hall is stretched by current numbers. Of course much has changed since the school was built forty years ago. Now what I am asking for was contemplated by the Council in the past. In fact Barnhill was in the original PPP school building programme scheme but dropped out at some point like other schools such as Park Place Primary School and Kingspark School. Interestingly, we have already recognised their shortcomings and their replacement schools are under development or are already built by the council. In fact the council applied for and received outline planning consent for such a development (as I am advocating) in Spring 2002. In this planning application permission, in outline, was sought for:
'an extension to school with accommodation for educational and community use and replacement of temporary nursery unit at Barnhill Primary School, Falkland Crescent, Broughty Ferry, Dundee. The proposals for this school and nursery are to accommodate the forecast expansion of population in the east end of the city.'
Unfortunately this outline planning permission lapsed.

But, £5 million continues to allocated for Barnhill Primary School in the council's Capital Plans including the current plan for 20011/12. It just needs to be shifted out of limbo in the 'future years' column of the plan and given a definite timescale. I think parents living in or moving into the catchment area of Barnhill Primary School will expect the Council to plan ahead and revive these plans as a matter of urgency. I am therefore asking that a feasibility study is prepared and then brought back to the Education Committee later this year. I am also recommending to the committee that this is not just a technical appraisal but also involves the Head Teacher and the Chair of the Parent Council. Of course this will not provide an immediate solution to the capacity concerns that arose earlier this year but might reassure families living in or contemplating moving into the Barnhill Primary School catchment area that the council will have a longer term rather than makeshift solution to primary school capacity at Barnhill Primary School. Progressing my proposal would also help to reduce fears that public services in Broughty Ferry will not be able to cope with the planned growth in population principally in the north eastern part of The Ferry.
I hope that what I am asking for is uncontroversial and will be supported by all sides. We all want the city to prosper and that requires new developments including housing and the public and private services to support these.

My proposal recognizes that now is the time to decide to prepare and bring forward a feasibility study for the extension and refurbishment of Barnhill Primary School."

23/03/2011

Extension and Refurbishment of Barnhill Primary School


I have placed the following item on the Agenda of the Education Committee next Monday.

'Item 2 - Extension and Re-furbishment of Barnhill Primary School
This item has been placed on the agenda at the request of Councillor Bidwell.
He will ask the Education Committee to agree to the preparation of a feasibility study for the extension and refurbishment of Barnhill Primary School with a report back to Committee by November 2011.'

With confirmed demand for school places a growing issue in the catchment area of Barnhill Primary School, it makes sense for the council to revive its plans to refurbish and extend the school in a manner similar to the recent extension and refurbishment of Forthill Primary School. This could not only expand the capacity of the school to cope with an growing demand for places from parents who live in the catchment area but also upgrade facilities in the school that are already stretched. For example, the nursery classes are accommodated in temporary huts which is unusual in Dundee Schools.

In fact the council applied for and received outline planning consent for such a development in Spring 2002. In this planning application
permission, in outline, was sought for:
'an extension to school with accommodation for educational and community use and replacement of temporary nursery unit at Barnhill Primary School, Falkland Crescent, Broughty Ferry, Dundee. The proposals for this school and nursery are to accommodate the forecast expansion of population in the east end of the city.'

Since letting this permission lapse in 2005, a considerable amount of house building has taken place within the school's catchment area and more land is zoned for large scale future housing developments. And the nursery is still in the huts.

I think parents living in or moving into the catchment area of Barnhill Primary School will expect the Council to plan ahead and revive these plans as a matter of urgency. I am therefore asking that a feasibility study is prepared and then brought back to the Education Committee later this year. I shall be recommending to the committee that this is not just a technical appraisal but also involves Head Teacher Pam Nesbitt and her staff and the Parent Council and Forum.

Of course this will not provide an immediate solution to the capacity concerns that arose earlier this year but might reassure families living in or moving into the Barnhill Primary School catchment area that that the council will have a longer term rather than makeshift solution to school capacity within the catchment area of Barnhill Primary School. Progressing my proposal would also help to reduce fears that public services in Broughty Ferry will not be able to cope with the planned growth in population principally in the north eastern part of The Ferry.

15/03/2011

Law Nursery School Consultation - Letter to Education Convener


Copy of my letter to Councillor Fordyce, Education Convener, (email dated 13 March 2011) calling for an early date for the consultation about the Law Nursery School:


Dear Liz,

In the Council's press release, 'Law Nursery Informal Consultation', issued on Monday afternoon 28 February, prior to the Education Committee the same evening, you were quoted as follows:

Education convener Cllr Liz Fordyce said
"I asked that this report was withdrawn to allow more time so that we can consult informally with parents and carers of children attending Law Nursery.This will be an extra consultation exercise that will help to inform any report that goes back to committee recommending formal consultation on a relocation proposal."

Please can you advise on the timescale for and form of this consultation? I hope that as Education Spokesperson for the major opposition group on the Council, I should be invited to attend any consultation event along with the local Councillors.

Although you also said that,
"This means that any move (for Law Nursery School) for August this year is no longer an option."
I think you will be aware that this still means there is uncertainty beyond school year 2011/12. Many children spend two years in nursery education prior to transferring to primary school. It follows that parents and carers making choices about their three year old children entering Law Nursery School this year can have little confidence that it will still be operating on its current site from August 2012. This continuing uncertainty is corrosive and risks undermining what, according to the School Inspectors is an outstanding Nursery School. Accordingly, I urge you therefore to organise your consultation event before the Easter holidays so that your proposal can then be scrutinised by the Education Committee at the April meeting.

I hope that in any further contact with parents or press statements, neither you, nor any member of the SNP group, will raise any more misleading claims that there are health and safety issues at Law Nursery School. I have now read the Electrical Services Condition Survey Report on the School dated October 2009. Comments such as under Kitchen Installations "Very small kitchen" (which is only a servery for meals that are supplied from the School Meals service) does not suggest to me that a complete refurbishment of the kitchen area is justified or necessary. Of course I am only a lay person with no qualifications in health and safety. But I assume that since the Education Department have had this report for over sixteen months, were there any significant health and safety hazards, you would have taken immediate steps to protect our children and staff. I am sure you need no reminding of our responsibility as corporate parents for the children of Dundee and of course our responsibility as an authority for health and safety and environmental health.

I remain of the opinion that you and the Education Directorate have not advanced a convincing educational case for uprooting and undermining a successful Nursery School nor that there are significant real savings to be found in so doing.

Finally, I have copied this email to the press.

11/03/2011

Threat of Further Cuts in Dundee Schools as Budget May be £500,000 Short


A lack of progress in national negotiations with Teachers led by the Scottish Government has led to concerns that there may be a black hole in the budget of the Education Department in Dundee. I have been advised that the figure may be near £500,000. The SNP's swingeing education cuts of £4.1 million for the forthcoming financial year may not be enough.


In the process of agreeing the budget settlement for local government, the SNP's Cabinet Secretary for Finance, John Swinney MSP, offered councils his government’s commitment to agree reductions in the terms and conditions of work of teachers by the end of January. Now that no progress has been made, the savings the city council assumed in arriving at its education budget will need to be revisited. Unfortunately, I think this means that the Education Convener, Liz Fordyce, will be looking out for more cuts.


Back in December, I made it clear that I thought that these assumptions were optimistic and the savings projected were unlikely to be realised in such a short time scale. This is another example of SNP mismanagement and unfortunately it will be the education of our children that will suffer as a result, because short term cuts often lead to long term damage.


Councillor Richard McCready said:

“I hope this budget shortfall won’t mean we will have more ill thought out schemes, such as the proposed relocation and downgrading of Law Nursery, being proposed piece by piece. Dundee deserves better.”

08/03/2011

Youth Projects In Dundee Benefit from Cash Back for Communities

Yesterday morning, I attended the Tayside Joint Police Board deputising for a colleague. At the meeting we heard about Cashback for Communities.


This national initiative recycles cash that is seized from criminals for diversionary work with young people. This means that we are working to ensure that convicted criminals don't profit from their crimes. As a bonus, seized money is redistributed to youth work organisations in our communities.


In the past year, projects in the Dundee area that have benefited from Cash Back for Communities funding have included:


'Bike it' which is an activity where the young people build bikes and get to keep them, run by Dundee community learning department. The BIKE-IT Project is a community based diversionary BMX bike initiative between Dundee City Council and Tayside Police, with funding support from the Community Safety Partnership. BIKE-IT is aimed at young people who have come to the attention of the Police for offending and/or anti-social behaviour in the local neighbourhood.


'Fairbridge' outdoor activities. Fairbridge is a national charity that works with young people aged 13-25, who are not in education, employment or training.

The 'Shore', Dundee. The Shore is a state of the art Young Person's Venue. It is situated right in the heart of Dundee City of Discovery and allows them to take part in Art, Media, Music, Training, Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme or just as a Drop-in Centre.


Funding has also been provided to youth groups and uniformed organisations such as the Boys Brigade in Dundee.

07/03/2011

See 'And God Created the Dighty' at Bf Environment Project 22 March 7pm

Broughty Ferry Environmental Project will be holding their Annual General Meeting on Tuesday March 22nd beginning at 7pm in Broughty Ferry Library.

The AGM will be followed by the screening of five short films made by local film makers. entitled


And God Created the Dighty


These films are about the Dighty burn yet not about the Dighty burn; rather they tell of those who have lived by its banks, whose lives the river flows through as the blood in their veins. Be prepared to be surprised!


Followed by refreshments.



06/03/2011

International Women's Day 8 March 2011



International Women's Day on 8 March 2011 is a global day that celebrates the achievements of women past, present and future. In 2011 the event will mark its centenary. A number of organisations in Dundee will be offering activities to celebrate.

Read or Download the programme of events for Dundee Women's Festival pdf

02/03/2011

Ferry Public Consultation Sat 19 March 10 - 12 noon Castlegreen Leisure Centre


The Ferry Local Community Planning Partnership is holding a Round Table public consultation on Saturday 19 March 2011 between 10 am and 12 noon at Castle Green Leisure Centre.

This is an opportunity for local residents to set the agenda and identify issues that will contribute to the next Local Community Plan for Broughty Ferry.

Staff from key Council Departments, Tayside Police, Tayside Fire and Rescue and Tayside Health Board will be available on the day with whom to discuss key issues.

The event will be chaired by Elaine Zwirlein, Director of Housing, who is the new chair of the Local Community Planning Partnership.

If you wish to attend, please confirm your attendance with:

Carole Jenkins

Ferry Communities Officer

tel 01382 438594 or 01382 436339

email carole.jenkins@dundeecity.gov.uk

01/03/2011

Withdrawal of Law Nursery School Proposal from Education Committee Agenda


Confusion and exasperation were evident at the Education Committee last night. when the Committee were due to consider 'Item 3 Proposed Relocation of Law Nursery into Rosebank Primary School'.

The Education Convener, Councillor Liz Fordyce, curtly announced that the item had been withdrawn and immediately moved onto the next item on the agenda. She offered no word of explanation and declined to make any statement. Despite requests to the contrary from opposition councillors, the convener insisted on moving the meeting on and ruled out of order any intervention to bring the meeting back to this item.

This was a humiliating climb down by the SNP administration. But it was also an insult to the many parents and carers who have arrived to have their say in deputations to the Education Committee. Through her action, Convener Fordyce denied the democratic opportunity of these parents to address the Education Committee directly about their concerns about her flawed proposal to downgrade and move their nursery school to the Hilltown.

I think parents connected to Law Nursery and the valued nursery staff deserve an early statement from the SNP led Administration if not their Education Convener to clarify what happens next.

Any prolonged delay will lead to uncertainty. Whether the Law Nursery School will be on its current site in Lawside Road or downgraded to a nursery class and relocated over a mile away at Rosebank Primary School in August is of real importance to parents and ultimately the pre-school education of their children.

So Councillor Fordyce should officially make it clear that she has withdrawn her misguided plans for Law Nursery, not just withdrawn this item from the agenda of a meeting. She needs to make it clear that this is not just a pause while she and her SNP colleagues work out how to outwit parental opposition and get their way.

But the Education Convener should be clear, the weight of public opinion councillors have encountered in support of Law Nursery School as it stands has been considerable. I don't think these parents will be put off by Liz Fordyce's political manoeuvring if she was only playing for time last night.