4th September 2012



Minutes of meeting on Monday 4th September 2012 at 7.30pm

Present: Bobby Smith (“BS”), Ruth Gillan (“RG”), Annette Wilson (“AW”), Neil Langhorn (“NL”), Christine Paterson (“CP”), Ms Denise Penrose (“DP”), Mrs Claire McGlynn (“CM”), Christina Enever (“CE”), Chris Cartwright (“CC”), Morag Dalton (“MD”), Councillor Ricky Henderson (“RH”) and Councillor Bill Henderson (“BH”).

Apologies: Helen MacGregor & Councillor Dominic Heslop.

1. Treasurer’s Report

AW presented a note of expenses from the Family Fun day and her ongoing accounts.

Current balances are £872.01 in the Garden Fund; £518.14 in the general PC account. AW confirmed that we will receive another allocation of PC funds next summer.

A payment of £274.60 has recently been paid into the PC account by the Council. Monies have been paid out to the Garden Group for ongoing expenses and further monies are due to them for expenses incurred. £56.93 will be paid out to AW from the general account for the Family Fun Day.

AW has some left over Lucky Dip prizes from the Family Fun Day. These will be offered to the PTA for the Christmas Fair failing which CE offered to buy them for her party company. Leftover perishables will be donated to the school.

DP though the Family Fun Day was great and all agreed. It was noted that this event was jointly organised by the PC & PTA.

AW explained that the Council is no longer paying the Clerk payment which we previously claimed for the PC account. Now it is only paid if the PC is actually paying a Clerk to take minutes; invoices etc would be needed and they would need to be declared as taxable income of the Clerk receiving payment.

DP mentioned in relation to the garden that there are tools stored in the school which, due to lack of space, she would like to see stored outside. RG explained that the concern is security and that an outside store could be a target for troublemakers.

There was some discussion about how the tools could best be stored – perhaps in some sort of camouflaged container. DP set no time limit to their removal. CP offered to speak to Shona Johnson about this.

As a PC, we agreed previously to donate some of the PC funds to the school for the purchase of flip cameras, with the bulk of the money coming from the PTA. DP explained that the cameras are good practice in schools, in line with the Curriculum for Excellence and a useful aid in reflective learning.

The overall cost of the cameras is around £700. We agreed that after AW has been paid for expenses for the Family Fun Day, we should donate the bulk of the PC funds in the general account to paying for these, leaving a float of at least £50. We decided to revisit the exact amount we want to give from the PC at the end of the meeting. The balance of funds will come from the PTA.

[Subsequent note: we forgot to finalise the amount at the end of the meeting; subsequently AW emailed PC members and it was agreed to keep at least £150 as a balance in the general PC account and so we agreed to give a cheque for £300 for the cameras to the school.]

{Councillor Bill Henderson arrived.]

It was asked whether the school might need money to buy more recorders? DP confirmed that they have enough for this session; she might need more next session.

2. Ongoing role of the PC

Should the PC be more proactive and/or high profile? How can the PC better assist the wider parent community?

There was a general discussion about the various roles of the PC.

BS would like to see better links between our PC and those of other schools.

AW noted that the CCwP [Consultative Committee with Parents – a Council run consultation system between Council officials and PC Chairs] is currently under review. At the moment there is a cluster rep from Dean Park PC who attends these meetings, but input is not sought from us nor is feedback given.

It was noted that Graeme Sives is the new Headteacher at Balerno and he will be open to new ideas.

There was some discussion about Ratho Action Group and its input to the school. It is a kind of pupil council, with 2 pupil reps per class. Currently CM chairs the Group, with Helen MacGregor also attending. NL confirmed that he has attended in the past to discuss the school orchard. CM explained that for example, RAG has recently been working on the Canal Adoption Programme. As a PC, we could try to send an attendee to at least one RAG meeting per year, to learn more about what they are doing. It would be good to forge a stronger link with RAG.

Within the PC we have been involved in some good things recently: eg the homework survey; the orchard.

What does DP want from the Parent Council? She’d like to have PC reps available to assist on school and community projects. AW suggested that if DP wants support on an issue, she should be able to come to the PC for input/support. It should be a fluid arrangement, not rigid, and should recognise that people have different skills.

We asked the new parent attendees at this meeting what they thought about the role of the PC. They are still not clear what is the purpose of the PC? What communication do we have with parents? Do we produce a newsletter? It was suggested that the PC should produce a termly newsletter for parents & carers, explaining who is on the PC and what is our core business; we should also keep our website up to date.

[Councillor Ricky Henderson arrived.]

Should we meet on a night other than a Monday?

CC suggested that we need a clear message on our objectives eg the cameras: what are they to be used for in school; how will they help the children’s learning; why should they be purchased? It was suggested that messages about the groups available for parents to join at the school (ie PC, PTA, Garden Group) are not necessarily being heard and understood by the wider parent forum.

DP agreed that the messages from the PC need to be clearer. She offered to create a space on the school noticeboard for PC info.

CE suggested that the PC needs to be more specific about what people can do to help the school.

It was noted that on the PC we have struggled for numbers recently, as have the PTA.

There was discussion about the need for a clearer approach on parental involvement; perhaps a joint meeting with the PTA is needed to take things forward?

What does the PTA do? Each year the understanding is that the PTA pays for certain standard things eg a pantomime; the school leavers’ trip. It usually has extra money and the PTA then speak direct to the school about what to donate it to.

At Ratho the PTA has historically been separate from the PC – but should it be? DP suggested that it would be easier for her to have one parent body to deal with. It need not be called the PC or the PTA eg it could be the Ratho Family Council. It was noted that the PTA do understandably like to have ownership of what the money they raise is used for. If there was one parent group then a meeting of all could start together then break off into PC/PTA sub-groups? At the moment there aretwo entirely separate sets of meeting dates.

NL is concerned that DP is waiting too long for decisions eg as to funding for the flip cameras. With money for them coming from both PC & PTA, it has been a laborious process to sort out. One group would bring immediacy to meetings.

Discussion reverted to having an open joint meeting of both PC & PTA. It was agreed that there should be a joint meeting and DP should chair it. She can set out her vision of the way forward and facilitate a discussion amongst those present.

MD & CE are attending the PTA meeting tomorrow and will explain to the PTA tomorrow what was discussed at this meeting tonight.

BS had earlier intimated that due to work pressures, he had to stand down as PC Chair with immediate effect. AW nominated RG as interim Chair and CP seconded. Thanks to RG for accepting. BS will remain as a PC member.

At her last school DP said that the PC was very active. They became very involved in community issues eg traffic calming measures. AW mentioned that the Ratho Environment Group is looking into improving the appearance of the lock ups at the school gates.

Should the PC have a specific link to the RDCC? The RDCC meet monthly on the 6th of the month.

DP was left with the task of organising a date for the joint meeting of the PC & PTA. The agenda is to be set following consultation with the respective Chairs. DP will then publicise it in her weekly newsletter.



Action points

  • There was a discussion about violin assessments and instruction. DP confirmed that these are continuing. AW asked If Ratho could be allocated a day other than Monday for a change – as this day is greatly disrupted because of Monday holidays etc. DP agreed to look into this.

  • It was noted that in a future school session, if that is needed, then the PC might want to think about organising funding for new musical instruments.

  • BS has an email from Wendy Gray at the Council listing PC contacts in other schools. As RG is Interim Chair, he will forward that to RG for information.

  • DP confirmed that there has been no change as regards getting a new lollipop person to stand in for Carol while she remains on sick leave. This led to a conversation about other methods of safely crossing Main Street. CM suggested a walking bus; RG a zebra or pelican crossing. BH confirmed that this is something he can look into ie getting a traffic count done and pushing for a formal crossing. The RDCC may be a good place to push for action on this?

  • Also as regards safe parking around the school, BH advised that he can ask that Community Safety Officers run a campaign. CM asked if RAG could get involved in any such initiative, please? In the context of parking, it was noted that as this school covers not only the village but a wide rural area, some parents of necessity drive their children to school.

  • NL enquired about the school football team. John Colquhoun has agreed to continue coaching it. The team is enrolled in the Soccer 7s (for P6 & 7 boys) and play regular matches. P4 & 5 girls are now getting the chance to learn football skills.

  • School events: the Parent Consultations are on Thursday 11 & Friday 12 October. On Thursday 27 September the school is holding two “Big Writing” workshops for parents. These workshops will inform parents about this new approach to teaching writing skills in schools.

  • DP advised that the homework jotters are to remain blank (ie unlined) due to the different types of homework (not just writing) which are set Some parents had wanted lined jotters to assist the children with writing in a straight line.




4. Date and time of next meeting

No date for the next meeting was set in view of the agreed strategy being that the next meeting should be a joint PC/PTA meeting on a date to be set by DP.