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New Recorders for Pupils at Ratho Primary School (October 2011)

Each year, Ratho Parent Council receives funding from City of Edinburgh Council to support their work - to pay for printing, copying and admin costs. 
At the end of each financial year the Parent Council usually gives any unspent funds to the school. This year, the parent council decided to direct the money to support the school in 2 areas:

1) to support the increased provision of music tuition to ALL pupils
2) to provide funds to support the work of the Ratho Action Group (previously the Pupil Council)

We are delighted that the money given to the school has enabled them to purchase 75 new recorders and that pupils from P3 upwards will have the opportunity to learn to play. The Ratho Action Group identified a need for more outdoor play equipment for the quiet area (P4-P7) and are currently working with Mrs Pettit to select games to buy.

Council Budget Cuts - February 2011

Next week, on the 10th February, the City of Edinburgh council will meet to approve this year's budget allocation.
The council is having to make savings of £90 million over the next 3 years. Much of these savings will come from the Children & Families department, who are responsible for schools and education. Although the detail of the budget is not yet known, the council have involved both head teachers and parent councils in a review process over the last 6 months, and the areas that cuts will be made this coming year have been identified. 

It seems likely that Ratho Primary School will be affected in 2 main ways:

  • Janitorial cover - currently the school has a dedicated janitor. It is proposed that janitorial service will be shared between the schools in a particular cluster - that is Ratho Primary, Dean Park Primary and Balerno High School. The details of how this would operate are not clear, but there would not be a janitor available at all times during the day to take care of maintenance, health & safety issues and security. If required, a janitor would need to travel to Ratho to carry out any duty required.
  • School Management - currently Ratho Primary is managed by Ms Penrose (Head teacher), with support from Mrs Pettit (Principle teacher) one day per week, and Nicola Mowatt (Business Manager) part time. Any further reduction in management time will impact the smooth running of the school, and make it more difficult for the school to undertake new initiatives, or changes - in particular the ongoing implementation of the new curriculum. 

The school has already been affected in recent years with reduction in specialist teachers (music, art and language), and reductions in learning assistant hours and management time. 

It is the secondary schools however, that will take take the biggest hits. 

  • They have much more to do to implement the new curriculum - the same curriculum that will lead to completely new qualifications for all the children currently in P6 or younger. 
  • The council are asking for a reduction in depute and principle teachers. However under the current terms of employment a school cannot just get rid of a teacher and even if a teacher is given a demoted post their salary is conserved. Secondary schools are very limited in terms of what they can do to reduce numbers of promoted staff, and so may require to look for the financial savings elsewhere. 

Balerno High School estimate that they will be asked to save £150,000 next year, with further similar savings over the next 2 years.

If you agree with members of your parent council, that our children deserve better than these constant budget cuts that will start to have a real impact of the quality of their education, then you can write with your opinions to the council administration BEFORE next weeks meeting. Our local councillors have suggested that sheer numbers of emails on the subject are more likely to have an impact than one from the parent council. 

Address your emails to :

Cllr Marilyne MacLaren (Lib Dem) - Convenor of Education                             
Mike Rosendale - Head of Schools                                                 

Copy to our locally elected councillors:

Ron Cairns (SNP)                                               
Ricky Henderson (Labour)                                   
Alastair Paisley (Cons)                                        

School Closure due to Snow, December 2010

Following the recent closure of the school, some members of the Parent Council attended a meeting with Ms Penrose to discuss the following points:
  • Of prime concern is that all action possible is taken to minimise the amount of time the school is closed under similar circumstances in the future; we will propose that the parent council be included in the school emergency plan and that we have our own emergency plan to enable us to clear agreed paths and access routes should there be large snowfall say at the weekend. Ms Penrose has already said she will have my phone number at home and will be able to contact me sooner. We will make sure that the school has contact numbers for 2 or 3 members of the parent council to enable better coordination of effort.
  • there is a concern among P7 parents in particular about loss of time spent on the curriculum; we will ask what plans the school can put in place to ensure that P7 in particular can make up for lost time and that this is clearly communicated to parents. We would also ask that the school put in place plans to ensure that school work can be continued at home if a closure should occur. It does sound like they have already done that with work packs and GLOW implementation. 
  • We will ask if the school could consider an alternative evacuation plan that could be used if the roof was affected with snow and ice again; this may require doing a fire drill using fewer exits that are not affected. This would potentially avoid the school having to be closed if the roof is loaded with snow in the future.
  • We will understand from Ms Penrose the lessons she has learned from this experience and the changes they will be making to the school plans. We will ask if the parent council can have sight of these plans, and suggest that the school plans and policies be available on the school website for information. Specifically we would look for priority for clearing snow and ice from the roof and making use of the local contractors who have worked at the school this time (can Ms Penrose go direct?). We will also ask that Ms Penrose communicate to the parent body what changes / improvements are being made to the plans.
  • We will ask if the home page of the school website can be changed to show relevant and up to date information, including a newsflash should the school need to be closed.
  • We will also ask who pays for the contractors who have cleared the snow.
The meeting went well and Ms Penrose was very receptive to the points raised. 
The following notes were taken by Annette at the meeting, and the formal minute of the meeting is attached at the bottom of this page.
  • The council has acknowledged that in week 1 priority was given to city centre schools and roads.
  • The intention was to reopen the school on Tuesday of the 2nd week.
  • Following the snow on Monday of the 2nd week the school was closed to staff. However a janitorial team attended the school to clear paths and they discovered the snow on the roof situation.
  • A number of contractors assessed the risk of the snow falling off the roof, and across the board recommended that the school remain closed.
  • Ms Penrose was in regular contact with David Wright, Head of Schools, to resolve the situation as soon as possible.
  • Only 1 fire exit was available to use. This was because the door at the far end of the school (opening towards the school garden outside P2 classroom) was broken and out of service. This has now been fixed and would give a 2nd exit in similar circumstances.
  • Ms Penrose assured that any loss of curriculum for the P7's will be made up and a communication will be sent to P7 parents to this effect.
  • The school did consider moving the children to another location for schooling, and this would be considered again should a similar circumstance arise. It is recognised that there could be issues getting buses to take the children out the village. The possibility of using the church hall will be looked into.
  • The home page of the school website has now been changed so that a snow alert appears at the top of the page. This will be updated if the school is closed again.
  • As per the Friday note last week, teachers have prepared emergency work packs that can be uploaded to the website remotely if the teachers cannot get to the school. We agreed that the parent council could look into being able to print and distribute these packs round the families who have no internet access.

School Uniform Survey, October 2010

Many thanks for all those completed surveys. The results have been collated and are attached at the foot of this page.
The results will be discussed at the next Parent Council Meeting on Monday 8th Nov