Grove Academy in Herald Scotland Top 50 Secondary Schools in Scotland

Top 50 State Secondary Schools in Scotland, Herald Scotland March 2016
Earlier this month the Herald Scotland published their list of the top 50 secondary schools in Scotland 2014/15.

The rank order in their table is based solely on pupils' results in Highers before leaving school in session 2014/2015.

These results are not directly comparable with SQA examination results in previous years. 

The table shows that Grove Academy is the only school in Dundee and Angus on the list. 

It is suggested however that "the table should be seen as a celebration of pupil success rather than a vilification of schools who have not achieved so highly" (and are not listed)

This is because the table also lists the benchmark for each school for comparison. This provides some insight into whether a school is punching above its weight, coasting along or under performing.

The percentage of pupils living in the lowest 20% of areas of multiple deprivation is also listed. 

Currently, there are eleven Primary School in Dundee targeted for additional support in the Attainment Challenge. This should help to reduce the 'attainment gap' and break the link between a child's postcode and attainment at school.

Further information about how well Grove Academy is doing may be found by following the Link to the Tables of Performance Information for Grove Academy located on the parent Zone area of Education Scotland's website.


Very Positive Inspection Report for Balgillo Nursery

Balgillo Nurseries Broughty Ferry
Congratulations to the staff at Balgillo Nursery who have recently received a very positive Inspection Report from Education Scotland.

The inspectors wrote:

"Inspection of your Early Learning and Childcare setting found the following key strengths:

  • Happy, well-behaved children who enjoy their learning experiences.
  • Very good use of the local area to enrich children’s learning experiences.
  • Strong partnerships with parents.
  • Senior management Team, manager and staff team who strive to provide the best possible learning and care in the setting.
Balgillo Nursery Inspection Report - Evaluation Ratings March 2016The overall evaluation ratings for Balgillo Nursery are all 'Good' or 'Very Good'. It is also positively noteworthy that there were no 'requirements' nor 'recommendations' arising from the inspection.


Commenting on the Announcement that Sistema will be Coming to Dundee

Councillor Laurie Bidwell said:
"The announcement yesterday that Sistema Scotland will be establishing a Big Noise Orchestra for children in Dundee is very good news. Their work in Stirling and Glasgow has demonstrated how music making can deliver tangible benefits for the children taking part, their parents and carers as well as the wider community. I am sure this will complement and extend the work of the existing city wide schools' orchestras and bands." 

"Two years ago Labour Councillors received the unanimous support of the Education Committee to back bringing a Sistema Scotland project to Dundee. That Council decision responded to the positive groundwork of the Optimistic Sound Group who had been fundraising and making the case for Sistema Scotland to develop their next music programme in Dundee." 

End End Councilor Lesley Brennan said: 
"I am delighted that the next Big Noise Orchestra to be established in Scotland is coming to the East End Ward. I understand that it will be working with children who attend Claypotts Castle and St Pius Primary Schools. My three boys have all taken part in school based and city wide bands and orchestras so I know what benefits being involved in music making can bring. 

This will be a real boost for Douglas."

"Let the children's music play!"


Hourly Trains from Broughty Ferry Beginning 2018-19

Broughty Ferry Station
I welcome the announcement made earlier this week of an hourly train service from Broughty Ferry beginning in 2018/19. 

As stopping services in Broughty Ferry have previously increased, the travelling public has made good use use of these trains. In fact Broughty Ferry station has recorded the largest percentage increase in passengers at any station in the region.

This is a positive development which I, and many others, have campaigned for. 

In the intervening period before 2018/19, TACTRAN (the regional transport body), ScotRail and Transport Scotland have been charged with developing the fine detail of how these additional train services will run.  For example, will the hourly trains stopping at Broughty Ferry Station connect directly to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen? If travelling north, south or west, at which stations will passengers be able to get a quick connection from the slower stopping train to the express and vice-versa?

I should however like to point out that the Transport Minister in the Scottish Government is rather guilty of exaggeration when describing the impact of extending the life of thirteen, otherwise redundant, 3 carriage diesel trains as a 'rail revolution'.That might have been a more accurate description had he been announcing that lines north of Edinburgh and Glasgow were to be electrified.

There is also a related value for money issue for taxpayers. I think we are entitled to know why the redeployment of these diesel powered trains was not anticipated and included in the tendering of the new ten year franchise which is entirely devolved to the Scottish Government. Dutch operator Abellio only took over running ScotRail on 1st April 2015. Will the cost of 'adding extras' to the existing franchise be best value? Who is responsible for leaving this out of the franchise agreement?

Notwithstanding these issues, an improved frequency of train services for Broughty Ferry should be good for residents, our visitors and tourists as well. 

Link to Ministerial Statement
‘Rail revolution’ means 200 more services and 20,000 more seats for Scots passengers.


Participatory Budgeting - Workshop in the City Chambers

Quotation from Anne Lappe
As part of my 'in-service training' as a Councillor, this morning I attended a briefing event about Participatory Budgeting. 

This half-day event was run by the Improvement Service and is funded through the Convention of Scottish local Authorities, (CoSLA).

This was a very practical session which provided insights into a number of approaches to public involvement in deciding spending priorities. I hope that it will be be possible to trial one of these approaches with The Ferry Local Community Planning Partnership.


Pothole Action on Douglas Terrace

Pothole on Douglas Terrce, Broughty Ferry, March 2016
Last week, I reported a series of eight of the most serious potholes on Douglas Terrace. These were identified on the stretch of Douglas Terrace between its junctions with Dundee Road and Home Street. 

While further along the waterfront towards the harbour the carriageway has been resurfaced, this section of the road is still on the waiting list for an upgrade.

During the winter weather sections of the road surface thet has been been previously dug up and infilled has been eroded and become a hazard.

I am pleased to report that the road has been inspected by staff from the Roads' Maintenance Partnership and they have reported that the potholes should be fixed quite soon.


Dogs Must be Microchipped Before Wed 6 April 2016

On the 6 April 2016 the provisions of the The Microchipping of Dogs (Scotland) Regulations 2016 will come into force. This statutory order from the Scottish Government makes it an offence to keep a dog without an identity microchip.

Of course having your dog microchipped is one of the best ways to increase your pet’s chances of getting home if they should ever be lost or stolen. Unlike dog tags and collars, which can fall off or be removed, microchipping is a more permanent form of identity for your dog. But don’t forget the law says all dogs must also wear a collar and tag, with their owners name, address and telephone number on it.

The Brown Street Kennels in Dundee have trained personnel who are able to microchip your dog. The current cost for this service is £17.30 inc VAT. 
Brown Street Kennels, Brown Street, Dundee DD1 5DT 
Tel: 01382 432100 Fax: 01382 432102


Westbay Residents Demand Some Road Safety Action

Since the new Grove Academy was opened and Eastern Primary School moved to the upgraded old Grove premises, both school have been opening their doors to an increasing number of pupils. This has led to regular parking difficulties for residents of Westbay Court in Albert Road.

Residents of the 17 apartments in Westbay Court have their own off street parking but they find it is very difficult to exit or enter their driveway during the forty minutes or so in the mornings and afternoons when parents and carers are using their road as a very congested drop-off and pick-up zone. Frequently Westbay residents find vehicles parking part way across the entrance to the driveway to their private car parking spaces. Their concerns are not merely about their own inconvenience from getting blocked in. They are very concerned about the risks to life and limb of young children walking and crossing Albert Road because for the restricted sight lines for residents as they exit and enter their driveways in their cars.

Residents first contacted me about this in the Spring last year and on a number of occasions I raised this in writing and at meetings with staff in the City Development Department. Despite a number of reminders from me and the residents, so far the residents think that their reasonable requests have been not been taken seriously enough.

I support the residents' view that this is an accident waiting to happen. I urge the Transportation section of the City Development Department to respond positively to the residents' request. At the same time, I urge parents and carers to drive and park safely and considerately in Albert Road because neither they nor the residents of Westbay Court want to be the cause of a road accident with a young pedestrian.