Committee gives go-ahead for review of schools estate

The first meeting of the Education, Learning and Leisure Committee (ELL) since the election dealt with a relatively short agenda.

Amongst other business, the committee discussed appointments to ELL sub-committees, received information on school roll forecasts and heard a presentation from two teachers about their experience of being involved in probationer teacher mentoring in Aberdeenshire. Councillors then approved a continuation of the council’s approach to supporting probationer teachers during the session 2012/13.

The committee also agreed a plan to develop a suite of Lifelong Learning and Leisure strategies for Aberdeenshire, including a programme of stakeholder engagement and a publication and reporting framework for the development of the strategies.

The committee was given an update on stage two of the Aberdeenshire School Estate Consultation, which took the form of stakeholder events.

Detailed analysis of information gathered through the events was classified into major themes and presented to the councillors in a report.

The committee heard the depth and range of responses at both stages of the consultation was impressive.

Underpinning it all was a view that the school estate should be reviewed in terms of investment, suitability and condition of buildings, the role of schools in communities, the educational benefits or otherwise of very small schools, school catchment areas and distances travelled by pupils as well as the management of groups or clusters of schools.

The committee was told a review of the ELL school estate will examine all of these and subsequently approved a full review, to be completed by December.

The review is a key priority in the ELL service plan 2012/13 and will take into account the outcomes of both stages of the school estate consultation process and national legislation and guidance.