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Councillor Laurie Bidwell News Digest for the week ending 10th. December 2011

Declining Teacher Numbers and Increasing Pupil Teacher Ratios in Dundee On Tuesday 7 December, the Scottish Government published their latest Statistical Bulletin: Summary Statistics for Schools in Scotland The Bulletin shows the number of primary school teachers in Dundee is now at its lowest level since 2005. The numbers fell again in the last year to 639 at the census point. In secondary schools, the number of teachers in Dundee is also at its lowest level since 2005. The numbers decreased over the last year to 716 at the census point. The tables showing Pupil/Teacher ratios also show a noticeable adverse increase from 11.7 pupils to 1 teacher in 2009 to 12.1 pupils to 1 teacher in 2011.

Having promised the earth four and a half years ago, the SNP Government in Holyrood still refuses to face up to the truth that they have not reduced average class sizes. They, and their SNP controlled Council in Dundee, are responsible for the decline in teacher numbers and an adverse rise in the pupil/teacher ratios in our City. The SNP made unprecedented promises about improvements in education, none of which have ever been properly or fully funded.

In Dundee the Education Convener, Councillor Liz Fordyce, claims her cuts haven't removed teachers from the classroom but the growth in the number of pupils to each teacher (the Pupil / Teacher ratio) paints a different picture.

We can't go on reducing the number of teachers in our schools in Dundee without having a negative effect on the attainment and achievement of our pupils. Dundee deserves better.

No Extra New Schools for Dundee in SNP Investment Plan The SNP Government's Infrastructure Investment Plan 2011 was published on Tuesday. The section that deals with school buildings is entitled Scotland’s Schools for the Future. "The £1.25 billion Scotland’s Schools for the Future (SSF) school building programme was announced in June 2009. The Government will provide £800 million funding support, from 2010-11 to 2017-18, with the balance coming from local authorities. The programme is being co-ordinated, managed and facilitated by the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT)." (Infrastructure Investment Plans 2011 December 2011 page 77)

Disappointingly, no additional school building programme has been announced for Dundee in this plan. The plan merely reannounces the rather modest sized national school building programme that was first launched in June 2009. In September 2009 when the government announced some of the specifics, it promised two thirds of the funding for a replacement school for Harris Academy in Dundee. Dundee West MSP, Joe Fitzpatrick, went on Newsnight Scotland to defend his government's record and claimed that work on these new schools would start on site before the next election which was in May 2011. The last report to the City Council on the progress of Harris Academy predicts no start on site before 2013.

Based on their over four and half years in government, the SNP have been strong on bluster about their school building programme and announcing and re-announcing it but weak on action. Unfortunately, this plan comes with the same health warning in relation to the prospects for actual new school building funded by the Scottish Government.

Ferry Juvenile Crime Wave Summit

Tag on a BT Box in Strathmore Avenue Tayside Police, Tayside Fire and Rescue, Dundee Community Wardens as well as Ferry Councillors, have all recently received numerous complaints from members of the public about graffiti, vandalism, fire setting and littering by young people in the Ferry. The unusual intensity of these incidents has led to the Team Leader of the Community Safety Wardens to convene an interagency "Summit" on Wednesday 7 December at Blackness Fire Station. There seem to be a gang of young people who are regularly out on our streets defacing public and private property with spray paint. The repetitive appearance of their 'signature' painted tags suggest that many of the acts of vandalism have been perpetrated by a small number of young people. There has also been a number of deliberately started fires and many examples of inconsiderate behaviours such as deliberately littering the streets and damaging public property such as street signs.

For the folk on the receiving end of this juvenile delinquency, this has been a very tiresome time. For Council clean up squads, it is also a discouraging picture because as fast as they remove or paint over graffiti, the tags appear again like a virus. There are clearly questions about a lack of parental supervision when it is alleged that some of the vandals are surprisingly young.

I hope the agencies at the meeting on Wednesday afternoon are able to plan and then coordinate effective and lasting responses against the perpetrators.

Broughty Ferry Train Timetable from 12 December 2011 - 8 December 2012

The new timetable for the improved train services from Broughty Ferry begins on Monday 12 December 2011. A handy separate leaflet for services to and from Broughty Ferry has been helpfully produced by TACTRAN and SCOTRAIL. This is an improved set of services that provide more through and connecting trains between Broughty Ferry and Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth. Copy and paste the address below into your browser to download the timetable at :

Broughty Lifeboat Carol Concert St James Parish Church Fort Street Monday 19 December at 7:30pm The annual Lifeboat Carol Concert will be held in St James Parish Church (the Lifeboat Church) on Monday 19 December beginning at 7:30pm. This is a wonderful opportunity to join in carol singing, remember the work of our brave and dedicated volunteer lifeboat crews and donate to the Lifeboat via the offertory.

Councillor Laurie Bidwell's digest  

Articles appearing on Laurie Bidwell's website in the week ending 10th. December 2011

Councillor Laurie Bidwell's digest  

Articles appearing on Laurie Bidwell's website in the week ending 10th. December 2011