MINUTES OF MEETING OF GIRVAN ACADEMY PARENTS COUNCIL
HELD IN THE CONFERENCE ROOM, GIRVAN ACADEMY Monday 27 September 2010
Present Andrew Sinclair (Chairperson) Alan Rattray Alex Scott Moira Carle Shona McFarlane Cindy Aubad Merlin Corbet Ian McLachlan Councillor Ian Fitzsimmons Lynne McDonald Nikki Pitt Natalie Ceates
Fi Leng Linda Smith Councillor Alex Oattes Councillor Alex Oattes Councillor John McDowall 1.
MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING
Mr Rattray pointed out some corrections to the previous Minute of 21 June 2010. It was noted that on Page 2 – the first paragraph – the last sentence should read: Girvan Academy may give consideration to timetabling 4th, 5th and 6th year together, which would alleviate some the difficulties in terms of course provision. Page 2 – staffing – this should read – Elaine Brooksbank would be joining Girvan Academy (instead of leaving Girvan Academy, which had originally been typed). Page 2 – Paragraph 2 of staffing should read: Five new teaching staff are in the process of being appointed (including biology, physics, english, religious education and business studies), three which have been agreed, and two which have yet to be agreed. Four long-standing staff have also recently taken advantage of severence packages which were on offer.
HEAD TEACHER REPORT
SQA Results Mr Rattray presented the Head Teacher‟s Report which contained a graph illustrating that this th year‟s 4 Year results had improved in all measures. Targets had been exceeded, with an increase of 75%. S5 Results It was also noted that, unfortunately, the results for S5 had gone down slightly. Mr Rattray continued by giving a talk regarding the general aims and objectives of Girvan Academy and explained that the school was in a better position than last year, in terms of the number of pupils who could, potentially, achieve 5 Highers.
HMI FOLLOW-UP INSPECTION
Mr Rattray reported that the HMI report, published at the start of session, had been very positive for Girvan Academy, from the point of view of both pupils and staff. Unfortunately, Girvan Academy had lost several pupils last session from families who had decided to move their children to other schools. This can have an effect in staffing i.e. 10 pupils leaving can take away a member of staff. Another disappointing factor is that some pupils have left Girvan Academy to attend schools where the achievements in terms of results have been less. The encouraging HMI report, in conjunction with the SQA results, should, however, restore confidence in Girvan Academy within the local community. It was noted by Mr Rattray that the 4th year results last session, were actually within a few percentage points of catching Kyle Academy. This is excellent progress over a relatively short period of time. 4.
ENQUIRY ABOUT ENGLISH AND MATHS
Cindy Aubad enquired about the overall situation in relation to core subjects, such as English and Maths. Mr Rattray explained that English has been a long-standing issue. A range of measures, with a view towards further improvement, had therefore been put in place. The Principle Maths Teacher joined Girvan Academy in February of this year, while the Principle Teacher of English joined at Easter. Improvements have been made and feedback from both Maths and English has been good. It will, however, take at least a year to see the results of changes made. Mr Rattray also mentioned that every pupil is „tracked‟ regarding their subjects and the primary focus in 5th year is in English and Maths. Mr Rattray stated that Girvan Academy had made significant strides in the last year. The school is moving as quickly as possible in terms of improvement. It does, however, take time to embed new teaching styles. Lynne McDonald mentioned that, at one point, her daughter had been on track for all of her subjects, apart from English. On enquiring what to do about this, Ms McDonald indicated that she had been advised to encourage her daughter to read more. Ms McDonald wondered, however, what other help is available to a young person in these circumstances.
Mr Rattray stated that there are specific websites which can assist. If a young person is off target their teacher will speak to them on an individual basis. In some cases, the setting of homework can be changed. There are a number of measures which can be put in place by the school and teachers can also compile an appropriate package for the young person in question. Girvan Academy also endeavour to run study groups, prior to prelims taking place. GENERAL DISCUSSION Ms Corbett brought up the subject of private tuition, which can be of considerable benefit in certain circumstances. The problem with this, however, is that it can be costly. Mr Rattray acknowledged that in some schools, it is common for parents to arrange private tuition for their son or daughter. It is not common practice in Girvan, however, due to the economic pressures faced by many parents in the area. A short discussion developed in respect of comparing the attainments of boys, as opposed to girls. Mr Rattray commented that in education as a whole, statistics show that boys are generally behind girls in terms of achievement. Last session at Girvan Academy, however, the boys had exceeded expectations, attaining the best set of results for boys since 2001. SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT PLAN Mr Rattray explained that the School Improvement Plan is linked in with the HMI Report. Mr Rattray had gone through the HMI report, and picked out areas identified for improvement. There areas were subsequently incorporated into the School Improvement Plan. TRACKING AND MONITORING Mr Rattray informed that the tracking and monitoring of pupils had commenced, with the first set of information being uploaded for the month of September. Girvan Academy are also aiming to extend tracking and monitoring to S 1, to cover a pupils progress through the Experiences and Outcomes. This approach would then be rolled out for S2 and S3 in coming years. CURRICULUM FOR EXCELLENCE Reverend McLachlan enquired about educational levels and objectives regarding pupils coming up from Primary 7 into secondary schools. Mr Rattray explained that, under Curriculum for Excellence, every child will have reached Level 2 by the end of Primary 7. This is different from the levels which are currently in place. In terms of Curriculum for Excellence, the policy is that every child will start at Level 3 in secondary, regardless. This obviously means that a certain number of pupils may have difficulty in scoring at this level. The thinking behind this, however, is that it is beneficial for each pupil to incur experience of Level 3, even although, in some cases, that may not be confident in working at that Level. 33 PERIOD WEEK It was reported by Mr Rattray that an explanation of the â€œ33 periodâ€? week had been placed on the school website under the Head Teacher blog.
Girvan Academy will move to an altered structure to the school day in August 20100. The likelihood is that the days will be asymmetric (i.e. longer on some days and shorter on others). There will be a degree of harmonisation, particularly in the upper school, across all 8 Secondary Schools in South Ayrshire. The theory behind this is that Secondary Schools will work in harmony, in respect of providing certain courses at the same time. Mr Rattray also indicated that the 33 period week, would not necessarily be the same as 33 periods at present. He had therefore tried to explain this on the Head Teacher blog. The idea is to move away from the conception of traditional periods within schools and think in terms of minutes i.e. a pupil could, on average, be taught 1650 minutes a week. The 1650 minutes would be broken up exactly, and by changing the structure of working days, it is possible to be more flexible and, in some cases, tease out more time. Mr Rattray stated that the logistics of the 33 period week will be decided as an Authority, and each school will be directed regarding the model that South Ayrshire has decided to adoptt. SWEDISH VISIT It was noted that Girvan Academy had once again hosted the Swedish visitors from Kariskoga. A week long programme around the theme “Fit for life and future” was highly successful, with all students and staff involved from both countries giving positive feedback. If funding is in order, Girvan Academy intend to make a trip to Sweden in Easter 2011 to continue the theme. Mr Sinclair enquired how funding is obtained for the Swedish trip. Mr Rattray explained that the Swedish school they are linked with had put in a bid for funding. It is a joint partnership and Sweden generally go out of their way to help Girvan Academy.
OPEN NIGHT Mr Rattray confirmed that the Girvan Academy Open Night would be held on Thursday 7 October 2010. The programme has been issued to parents, via pupils, and invites had also been sent to associated Primary Schools for Primary 7 pupils. It was agreed that it would be beneficial to have a Parent Council presence, and make up a banner.
DUKE OF EDINBURGH It was noted that Girvan Academy have had five expeditions over the months of June, August and September (with one to take place). GENERAL DISCUSSION RE BUDGETS A general discussion developed in respect of budgets. Mr Rattray mentioned that finance is an ongoing issue. At least 14 new PC‟s are required for the school which will cost at least £10,000. A whole suite of computers require to be changed for Admin and French. Taking all factors into consideration, the budget is relatively tight. Girvan Academy does not have a huge reserve of money. Some schools have a trust fund but Girvan Academy does not. Mr Rattray suggested that, within areas of significant economic pressures, there is a argument for some secondary schools to be provided with an unequal allocation of funds. This is, however, a huge political issue.
Ms Corbet asked whether any money from the Hadyard Hill Project could go to the School. Mr Rattray stated that Girvan Academy was not due to receive anything from Hadyard Hill. Councillor Fitzsimmons then explained that Girvan is not under the umbrella of areas such as Dailly and Barr, which are due to benefit from Hadyard Hill. There could, however, be an argument that pupils from Dailly and Barr attend Girvan Academy, and would benefit from any funding provided. Ms Corbet wondered whether any companies or Banks, who were replacing computers, would be willing to donate to schools. Mr Rattray agreed that this was a good idea, but would need to be checked out as he thought there may be restrictions on what equipment the school are able to accept. He felt that it was, however, worth looking into.
FUNDRAISING It was noted that the next funding event is the car wash which is due take place at the school grounds on 30 October 2010. Ms Ceates suggested that it may be a good idea to hold an Xmas Fayre. It was also suggested that raffle tickets could be sold at the Inter House Drama on 25 November 2010.
ANH OTHER BUSINESS Mr Sinclair suggested that it may be beneficial for information re the Parent Council to be put on the Girvan Academy website. Mr Sinclair also gave details of a Conference at County Buildings which Parent Councils were invited to attend. The Scottish Parent Council were also asking if Girvan Academy wanted to be a member of their organisation. The cost is ÂŁ99.00. Ms Ceates suggested that it may be beneficial to join the Scottish Parent Council as they cover insurance for any fundraising events such as discos etc.
DATE OF NEXT MEETING Monday 26 October 2010 at 7.00 p.m. at Girvan Academy.