21/10/2015

Commenting on the Report on Staffing Levels in Dundee Schools - Education Committee Monday 26 October 2015

The report from the Director of Children and Families' Service paints a varied picture. It is positive that at a time of shortage of teachers across the country the Council has managed to compete more effectively for potential staff. It also positive that the 1412.5 teachers in post is more than the 1407 teachers counted in 2014. But the fact remains, this is still a significant drop from September 2013 when the Council had 1436 teachers in post.

The report is also selective about what it reveals. On class sizes it does not for example identify the number of classes currently being taught at maximum. In relation to ongoing shortages of supply teachers, neither does the report refer to how secondary schools are having to improvise supply cover nor how primary schools are covering the non contact time of primary teachers which they use towards preparation and marking.

At the meeting on Monday 26 October, we shall want reassurance that strategies are in place for Dundee to recruit the teachers it needs as competition for teachers sharpens between councils. Councils in the Highlands and Islands have recently had a summit with Angela Constance and have agreed to work together on recruitment and promoting alternative routes to teacher qualification. What are our plans for Dundee?

This performance is not what the SNP promised at the May 2011 elections to the Scottish Parliament. 
In their Teachers' Manifesto May 2011, they committed to:
'Bring stability to teacher numbers by ensuring councils stick to the agreed minimum number of posts.'

It is significant that here in Dundee, this is the first year since 2011 that a year by year reduction in teacher numbers has been halted. It will take more than one year to be convinced that our SNP led Council now really means business on maintaining teacher numbers in our schools.

08/10/2015

Proposed Temporary Closure of King Street for Carriageway Resurfacing Works from 26 October 2015

Road Closed and Diversion Street Signs
Dundee City Council propose to make an Order under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 for the purpose of facilitating carriageway resurfacing works.  The Order is expected to be in force for 2 weeks from 26 October 2015.  Its maximum duration in terms of the Act is eighteen months.

The effect of the Order is to prohibit temporarily all vehicular traffic in King Street from Westfield Road to Lawrence Street (Phase 1) and from Lawrence Street to Fort Street (Phase 2).

Only one phase will be closed at any time.  No work will be carried out at the weekend and therefore the road will be open.

An alternative route will be available via Westfield Road, Brook Street and Brown Street (Phase 1), and via Church Street, Brook Street and Fort Street (Phase 2).

Please forward any comments you may have regarding this proposal to Mark Cobb, Network Management Team, City Development Department, Dundee House, 50 North Lindsay Street, Dundee  DD1 1LS, no later than five working days prior to the commencement date.  If you have any queries please contact Mr Cobb on 01382 433082.

07/10/2015

The Foodbank: Britain's Hidden Hunger - Dundee Featured BBC1 Wed 7 October 11:05pm - 12:05pm

Later today there will be a late night screening of The Foodbank: Britain's Hidden Hunger on BBC1 on Wednesday 7 October 2015 11:05pm - 12:05pm. It features the busiest Foodbank in Scotland, right here in Dundee.


Programme Notes from The Radio Times
Documentary looking at the growing numbers of people requiring emergency food in Britain. The stories of the people who received help from Scotland's busiest foodbank in Dundee are explored, including a man who cannot afford food after being the victim of a robbery, and a single dad who cannot feed his four-year-old son after a long period without work.

Network repeat of programme screened on BBC Scotland last week.

Dundee Food Bank
c/o Full Gospel Church
58 Constitution Street
DUNDEE DD3 6NE
Telephone: 01382 226372
Email: info@dundee.foodbank.org.uk

Website: http://dundee.foodbank.org.uk/

06/10/2015

School Alert for Proposed Temporary Closure of Seafield Road Broughty Ferry from Monday 19 October 2015

Road Closed and Diversion Signs
Earlier this month I alerted readers of my blog to the proposed temporary closure of Seafield Road for the replacement of the gas mains. Work is expected to start on Monday 19 October and last for for eight weeks.

Link to full details of the proposed road Closure

This essential work to renew the gas mains in Seafield Road will begin during the second week of the October school holidays.

Many pupils and their parents may be affected by this 8 week road closure, given the proximity of the road works to three of our Ferry Schools. I have therefore alerted the Head Teachers of Eastern Primary School, Grove Academy and Forthill Primary School. More specifically, I was concerned that the closure of Seafield Road will affect some of their pupils' Safe Routes to School and is likely to disrupt some car journeys to all three of these schools. It will of course unfortunately disrupt the lives of residents of Seafield Road who may well experience temporary access difficulties while their gas main is updated.

05/10/2015

Go Dundee Learning Journey 2015 – City of Design Saturday 7th November 9.30am-4pm

GO DUNDEE have confirmed that the 2015 Learning Journey will take place on Saturday 7th November from 9.30am to around 4pm and that the event will celebrate Dundee’s achievement of UNESCO ‘City of Design’ status. This year participants will be visiting the following venues:

  • Dundee Waterfront – including view of engineering works from RRS Discovery
  • DC Thomson – Kingsway East HQ
  • High Mill gallery – newly opened visitor attraction at Verdant Works
  • Maggie’s Dundee – cancer care centre in building designed by Frank Gehry

Go Dundee is again organising this event in partnership with Dundee Science Centre as part of the Dundee Science Festival 2015.  This year they are making a particular effort to encourage people from all the city’s various communities to take part in this event.  They are delighted that the Whitfield Community Choir has kindly agreed to perform at lunch time.  

Lunch will be provided at Verdant Works.

Many thanks to Xplore Dundee (formally National Express Dundee) for generously agreeing to provide the bus for the Learning Journey.

Booking
This event is free to attend but numbers are limited so booking is essential.
Booking starts on Friday 2nd October at 12.00 – phone the Dundee Science Festival number 01382 228800.

03/10/2015

Commenting on Thefts from NHS Tayside over 5 Years

On the basis of Freedom of Information Requests, it is regrettable to learn that over £400,000 of losses to NHS Tayside over the last five years were attributable to theft.

Whether it is lead stolen from roofs or equipment and furnishings removed from wards and surgeries, every pound spent on replacements is a pound not available for spending on the treatment of patients. 

Those who chose to deliberately or opportunistically steal from the NHS are stealing from us all as we all contribute to the cost of the NHS through our National Insurance contributions and taxes. 

Having said that, the budget of NHS Tayside is in excess of £640 million per year and they are a major owner of buildings in many locations. Seen it that light, the figure of £80,000 attributed to thefts per year (averaging out the reported annual losses from the five year total) suggests good security of NHS Tayside premises and sensible oversight of their movable property which I don't think intrudes on the treatment of patients.

02/10/2015

Proposed Temporary Closure of Seafield Road for Gas Main Renewal Beginning 19 October 2015 for 8 weeks

Dundee City Council propose to make an Order under Section 14(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 for the purpose of facilitating gas main renewal works.  The Order is expected to be in force for 8 weeks from 19 October 2015.  Its maximum duration in terms of the Act is eighteen months.

The effect of the Order is to prohibit temporarily all vehicular traffic in Seafield Road from Davidson Street to Fintry Place (Phase 1) and Fintry Place to Balgillo Road (Phase 2).

Only one phase will be closed at any time.

An alternative route will be available via Davidson Street, Cedar Road, Forthill Road and Balgillo Road for northbound traffic, and via Balgillo Road, Forthill Road, Fort Street, Queen Street, Church Street and Seafield Road for southbound traffic.

Please forward any comments you may have regarding this proposal to Mark Cobb, Network Management Team, City Development Department, Dundee House, 50 North Lindsay Street, Dundee  DD1 1LS, no later than five working days prior to the commencement date.  If you have any queries please contact Mr Cobb on 01382 433082.

01/10/2015

Council Make Grammatical Error in the Title of New Combined Education and Socal Work Service

At the Education Committee on Monday 28 September,  I asked Michael Wood, the Executive Director of Children and Families' Service, a question about punctuation. As Executive Director I asked why the service he heads apparently had decided to remove an apostrophe after the s in Families in the title of the amalgamated service? 

This omission was apparent in the title and body of the reports that he had brought to Committee. I understand that this will also be used on letter heads and the Council's website.

I had previously raised this matter in private with Michael Wood and had hoped that matter would have been sorted out without having to raise it at the Education Committee.

As the head of the service that is responsible for the teaching of reading and writing in our schools, I think our Executive Director of Children and Families' Service should lead by example. 

Interestingly, the Convener of Education, Councillor Stewart Hunter, avoided revealing whether he and the SNP group of Councillors had been responsible for, or were party to this decision.

I have sent a copy of the committee report to the Apostrophe Protection Society.