5th September 2011



Minutes of meeting on Monday 5th September 2011 at 7pm

Present: Bobby Smith (“BS”), Ruth Gillan (“RG”), Annette Wilson (“AW”), Christine Paterson (“CP”), Mrs Sarah Hall, Councillor Alastair Paisley, Shona Johnson(“SJ”) & Neil Langhorn from about 8pm.

Apologies: Ms Denise Penrose, Councillor Ronald Cairns, Councillor Ricky Henderson, Angie Muir & Graham Muir.

1. Representation on the Parent Council (“PC”)

There are currently representatives on the PC for most classes. We could do with a parent from the P1 class. [Neil Langhorn is a P1 parent who came along to the meeting later and he has agreed to join the PC].

It was disappointing that no other parents had turned up but it was noted that the meeting could have been better advertised, and also notified further in advance.

2. Music teaching in school

As a Parent Council we are agreed that we’d like to target some surplus funds which we have on improving the provision of music teaching within the school. At the moment only 6 children per year receive violin tuition from Mrs Miller. There is no new woodwind tuition (Mr Lamb is only continuing with existing pupils in P7). For those not getting violin, there is only the singing programme [“ABC Music”] used in the school. Mrs Marr used to provide music tuition but has of course retired.

The excess PC funds [£360] could be put towards the purchase of some musical instruments or to fund an after school club or even a one-off workshop. A workshop would cost in the region of £300 to £400 – is that good use of the money?

BS has spoken to Ms Penrose and she is looking at this generally.

This led to a general discussion about the loss of external specialist teachers in school who can enrich the children’s educational experience eg Ratho now has no PE specialist, no art specialist, no language specialist and reduced music tuition as above. Instead an increased burden falls upon class and other teachers within the school to provide this. We understand that it is not the school’s fault that this is happening; rather we understand it to be the result of external budget restrictions. Alastair Paisley offered to write to Gillian Tee for more information on this worrying trend.

AW mentioned that she may have a contact who could provide chanter teaching.

3. School Garden report (Shona Johnson)

SJ reported that the garden is flourishing.

A group of parents meet there to work on Tuesday evenings, usually from the start of term until the October break and then work starts again around Easter.

Garden funding is healthy. The garden has a balance in hand within the PC account: £890.67. At this year’s Spring Fair garden parents arranged another plant stall. Items sold included “Sunshine in a Box” packs containing sunflower seeds. Some of these were planted in the garden and the tallest will win a prize. Funds raised from the plant stall were donated to the PTA on this occasion.

New features in the garden are a wildflower meadow at the entrance and a wormery. Mrs Hall and her P2 class looked after this last year. A parent donated money for a memorial bench which was installed by Pete Hill & Mike Humphries. The cubs built a birdhouse and installed that.

New helpers for the garden would be welcome, and SJ will think about how to encourage these.

The garden was used last term for Golden Time, and for garden gym. Various skills were taught in Golden Time. Garden art was created which is now in place around the garden.

A parent managed to obtain £350 worth of funding from Dobbies which was used to buy various plants and pieces of equipment for the garden. The contact at Dobbies will come to visit the school soon to see the garden and find out how the money has been spent.

SJ has prepared a new garden report which will be posted on the PC website. In the meantime a hard copy can be made available upon request.

4. School orchard

This is in the school grounds, at the bottom of the kick pitch.

The Council has agreed to cut the grass around the trees 3 times a year, which should be sufficient. The trees are fairly clear around the base of the trunk. They are staked and have ties.

Mrs Hall will mention to Ms Penrose the possibility that we might be able to obtain further free trees from the Woodland Trust, if we want them.

5. National Parent Forum of Scotland

BS should receive an invitation to their AGM in October.

6. Procedure at future PC meetings

AW suggested that we start a practice of reviewing the previous meeting’s minutes at the start of the following meeting, and signing them off. This makes sure that action points are followed up etc.

SJ suggested that we should run meetings with a formal agenda.

CP suggested that as secretary she should formally take on the task of compiling an agenda before each meeting and remembering to ensure that the meetings are notified further in advance.

Dates of the current school year’s meetings were agreed as follows:

Monday 7 November

Monday 30 January 2012

AGM: Monday 30 April 2012

Although these dates mean that we meet generally at the start of each school term, BS is keen for us to able to hold extra one-off meetings should circumstances require.

We will ask for these dates to be notified to parents/carers generally in one of Ms Penrose’s Friday notes. We also asked that Mrs Hall, who maintains the school website, add them to the school’s online calendar.

Other points:

We agreed that it would be good for one of us to attend Balerno HS PC meetings. BS is also keen to encourage links from our PC to the PCs of Kirknewton & Dean Park Primary Schools. He thinks Dean Park has much closer links with Balerno HS; this is perhaps an inevitable result of the geographical proximity.

BS also wants to know more about the cluster rep who attends the CCWP on our behalf.

At the next PC meeting we should ask the PTA to attend to give us an update on their activities.

We should also at the next PC meeting have an agenda item about the emergency weather plan. A meeting was held last year after the school closure in December 2010 and action points were agreed with Ms Penrose; these should be reviewed at our meeting this November for the coming winter.

7. Next Parents’ Night

We agreed that as a PC we’d like to have a presence at this, to publicise the PC. We want to display the PC website and also the school website on laptops. AW will enlist some P7s to show the websites to passing parents. Mrs Hall will organise the 2 laptops.

AW will also draft a survey to be handed out on website/communication issues.

8. Points for Mrs Hall to raise with Ms Penrose

  • GLOW: A request was made for parents to get better information about this.

  • Markers in school: RG requested that washable whiteboard markers be used in school, as currently they are not washable and children are coming home with ruined clothing.

  • School cardigans: The new school cardigans are much too big for the age stated on the label. It would help if those already purchased could be exchanged for smaller sizes. Pending children fitting into those which have already been bought, can they wear grey wool cardigans?

  • School photos: These did not happen last year and there was no communication about them. Also, although the contemporary style of photograph seemed to have more support among parents, it was the traditional photographs which were to be taken. Is it disruptive to have the photos taken? Does the school receive an income from the photographer reflecting with the volume of photos purchased? RG noted that it is cheaper to order photos direct from Tempest rather than through the school.

  • Path behind nursery building used as access to school for P4 & up: This is muddy & slippery in winter. Can anything be done to improve the surface eg can slabs be laid?

  • Communication for a new school year: A request was made that communication be improved for the start of a new school year eg advising which door the children are to use to come into school; at what time the children finish school on each day etc. This especially needs to be done for new P1 children.

  • Infectious diseases: RG suggested that guidelines be put on the school website about what to do if your child has such a disease eg how long is it before they can come back to school?

  • Wildlife Rangers: There is the after school club but Earth Calling also used to come into the school to work with the children during school hours. Is this still happening?

  • Netball: Miss Bunten is to run this after school club. What is the start date?

  • Parentmail: What is happening? Is it to be dropped or still used during this school year? Last year the PTA funded it. If it is no longer used, how will the school organise one-off urgent communications to parents/carers? Will that be through the text service and how does that stand? To aid communication, we asked that more details be put into the entry on the school website calendar about an event eg not just the date of the event but when you click on the entry, details of the time, who is to attend it, any other relevant information etc could be added. However, we need to bear in mind that that only about 70% of the school’s parents/carers have internet access.

9. Date and time of next meeting

Monday 7 November at 7pm.