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Budget Consultation 2018 - 2021

Outcome 2: Life, learning and work

Consultation proposals for outcome 2.

High school pupils in classroom setting

Through this outcome we aim to support East Renfrewshire residents to be fit and active and have the skills for life, learning, and work. In 2017/18 we are investing £118.1million in this outcome. 

Our core objectives are to ensure:

  • Children are confident, effective learners and achieve their full potential.
  • Children and young people raise their educational attainment and achievement, developing the skills they need during their school years and into adulthood.
  • Residents have the skills for employment through increased take up of education and training opportunities.
  • Residents are active and optimise their health and wellbeing.

We operate a number of services under Life, Learning and Work. This includes:

  • Primary education - 23 schools for 8870 pupils, including the newly opened world-first faith schools joint campus and the extended Crookfur Primary in Newton Mearns.
  • Secondary education - 7 schools for 7790 young people, including the new Barrhead High School which opened in August 2017.
  • 1 special school - Isobel Mair School.
  • Supporting children who need additional support.
  • School transport.
  • Adult and family education.
  • Sports, arts and library services provided through the East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure Trust (ERCLT).

Fast facts

  • 16782 total children and young people
  • 1226 teachers
  • £4,518 annual cost per primary pupil, per year
  • £6,490 annual cost per secondary pupil, per year
  • Over 800,000 attendances at our indoor sports and leisure facilities annually
  • 7140 participants in active schools sessions in 2016/17 school year
  • More than 2000 theatre tickets sold for Eastwood Park performances in 2017/18
  • Approximately 600,000 visits to our libraries annually

Life, Learning and Work Proposals

Review of Employability Services

Context

Our Work EastRen employability service provides a wide range of employment advice, support and access to training programmes to support residents into work.

Proposal

To review the way the team and our partners currently operate in order to identify more efficient ways of delivering employability services to our residents.

What this will mean

A potential reduction to the number of staff or partners supporting residents and a reduction to the number and range of employability courses delivered.

Estimated saving

£181,000

East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure Trust (ERCLT)

Context

The Council provides ERCLT with a management fee to operate services such as sports, libraries and halls. The Trust is independent of the Council and is responsible for determining its own priories for budgets. The first three years of the agreed management fee is nearing completion and it is time for us to review our funding to them.

Proposal

To ask the Trust to find savings or new income equivalent to £330,000.

What will this mean

Whilst the level of funding we provide to ERCLT is not likely to change significantly in cash terms, it will not be enough to cover the pressures of inflation. As such, the Trust's costs will increase and there could be a funding gap which ERCLT would need to bridge through increasing income, finding further efficiencies or reducing some services.

Estimated saving

£330,000


Schools Proposals

Our schools account for the biggest slice of our Life, Learning and Work budget. This covers funding for our primary schools, secondary schools, special school and also all the central funds to support schools such as psychological services. The total budget for these services is around £108million. The proposed savings outlined for this area total £8.9million from this total budget and represent a proposed reduction of around 8 per cent.

Reduction of budgets devolved to Head Teachers

Context

Every year the Council devolves much of it's education budget to Head Teachers themselves. They then decide locally how they spend and allocate some of this budget.

Since 2012 the Council has managed to ensure that the budget devolved to Head Teachers has been relatively protected. However due to the level of savings required over the next three years, regrettably the only option left available to us is to consider further reducing the amount we devolve to our schools.

To help make the proposed reduction in budgets more manageable, we have looked at savings that can best be achieved collectively across schools and those which are best managed at school level.

At a school level we propose that Head Teachers find savings of around £5million over the next three years based on each individual school's priorities.

Head Teachers have told us that they would rather decide themselves how they deal with a reduction in their overall budgets, however we plan to do everything we can to help them manage this process. For example we will give Head Teachers greater flexibility with their budgets across financial years so that they can roll any underspends over.

This way of working is in line with the likely changes resulting from the findings of  Scottish Government Review of Education Governance and the current consultation on Fair Funding, which proposes something akin to this model, whereby Head Teachers would have greater autonomy over their school curriculum, staffing structures, duties to close the poverty related attainment gap, and manage defined and greater proportions of school budgets.

The savings that can best be achieved collectively across schools and the Education department are shown in the following proposals. 

Proposal

At a school level, we propose that Head Teachers find savings of around £5million over the next three years.

What will this mean

This level of reduction will have a significant impact on our schools. It could result in fewer courses being made available in secondary schools; class sizes could increase in primary and secondary and in terms of the resources available such as classroom materials, there would be a reduction. Availability of supported study sessions may also be affected, as well as longer waiting times for upgrading facilities and furniture.

Going forward schools and school cluster groups would need to prioritise improvement projects. Staff would be responsible for funding any work they decide to undertake to gain additional discretionary qualifications.

Parent Councils would be required to recruit volunteer minute takers and use their own funds or that of the fundraising arm of the school to produce materials. As our schools use more digitised tools, we would encourage our parent groups to do so too by using digital communication, such as email and social media.

Estimated saving

£5.062million

Reduction in the number of Classroom Pupil Support Assistants and Behaviour Support Assistants and the removal of Supervisory Assistants

Context

Support Assistants in schools work in four different ways:

  1. Pupil Support Assistants (Classroom) - a role which primarily undertakes administrative and support duties for teachers.  They are allocated on a formula basis - 25 hours for every 150 pupils in primary schools and 25 hours for every 500 pupils in secondary, to support teaching staff and as such can at times directly supervise pupils, help with classroom administration, displays and sometimes may work with children to practice reading, go over homework, do filing and photocopying, etc.

  2. Pupil Support Assistants (Additional Support Needs) - allocated to support individual children and young people with additional support needs.
  3. Behaviour Support Assistants - a role which supports secondary school staff to manage pupil behaviour.  At present, each secondary school is allocated four Behaviour Support Assistants,irrespective of need or demand. 
  4. Supervisory Assistants were originally introduced to supervise pupils in primary schools at lunchtime. These posts have been reducing over time and through natural turnover with only eight schools retaining these assistants. The same duties in other schools are covered by Pupil Support Assistants.
Proposal

This proposal sees the removal of Pupil Support Assistants (Classroom) from our primary and secondary schools and a reduction in the number of Behavioural Support Assistants from 28 to 21 from April 2020. There will be no change to the number of Pupil Support Assistants for children and young people with additional support needs. We also propose to remove the remaining Supervisory Assistants through natural turnover or redeployment.   

What will this mean

Teachers will be responsible for their own administration such as pupil registration and classroom displays. This could detract from time spent preparing for learning and teaching. It may also impact on clerical staff. However we are working to reduce the overall levels of administration in schools and classrooms with significant investment in new digital technologies and infrastructure. It is anticipated that some of the impact of this proposal will be off-set these new digital ways of working. The remaining 21 Behavioural Support Assistants would be allocated to schools according to pupil need, rather than at every school, in a much more targeted and efficient way.

Estimated saving

£1.195million

Reduction in Bilingual Support Workers

Context

There are currently seven bilingual workers supporting bilingual children, young people and families, mainly with Punjabi and Urdu. 

Proposal

To reduce the number of bilingual workers by 50 per cent to 3.5 roles from 2019/20. 

What will this mean

Our schools work hard to ensure we meet the needs of all our learners. This includes supporting children who may have a particular barrier to learning. Training and support is available to classroom teachers to enable them to support bilingual learners and their families. Schools also have access to authority guidance, which offers practical ideas on how to encourage bilingualism, whilst simultaneously sharing ideas on how to raise attainment.

A full equality impact assessment would be carried out before this proposal was implemented.

Estimated saving

£92,000

Redesign of instrumental music services and reduced financial support for pupils attending Junior Conservatoire

Context

Instrumental and choral tuition is provided to pupils in East Renfrewshire, as part of the Council's drive to enhance and enrich the lives of all the area's young people. Around 1500 pupils currently benefit from this service, which costs parents £300 per year for each pupil, with a 25 per cent concession for siblings and free for children and young people in receipt of free school meals. No charge is applied to pupils studying music as an SQA course. With 30 lessons per year this is the equivalent of £10 per lesson which compares very favourably to private music tuition which costs between £30 and £35 per session.

In addition 25 young people from our schools currently participate in the Royal 'Junior' Conservatoire Music Programme. This supports their musical development and education. 

Proposal

Restructure the management of the music service and decrease the number of music instructors, however there will be no impact on the cost of instrumental music lessons. We also propose to maintain financial support for young people in receipt of a free school meal to attend 'Juniors' but reduce the current subsidy from £500 per pupil to £200.

What will this mean

We are confident that this proposal will achieve the saving required without impacting on the experiences of the children and young people who use this service. It will probably mean an increase in the number of learners in a class, however in the later stages of tuition this will not exceed five students per class. Parents whose children are not in receipt of a free school meal will be responsible for a greater proportion of the fee for the 'Juniors' programme given a reduction in subsidy from £500 to £200 per child.  

Estimated saving

£144,000

Review of charges for supported study

Context

Our successful Easter Schools Programme has been running for many years and offers pupils in all seven secondary schools the opportunity to attend additional teaching sessions to support preparation for SQA exams. A small charge is made but the Council provides a considerable subsidy to run this programme.

In addition three residential study weekends are also provided annually focusing on mathematics, chemistry and physics. Each is attended by up to 40 students (3 per cent of our school population) with young people mainly from secondary schools in the west of the authority. Pupils on free school meals are not charged for the weekend but all other pupils pay a fee for attending with ERC subsidising the cost to a significant extent.

Proposals
  1. Make our Easter School Programme self-financing by increasing the costs for pupils attending. 
  2. To either stop running residential study weekends or make them self-financing. Three options for residential supported study weekends are set out below:
Options

a)      Cease to operate study weekends.

b)     Make the weekends self-financing by increasing cost to £320 per weekend (currently £62) per pupil.

c)      Widen participation in the weekends, offering opportunities to attend to a wider and larger group of young people from all secondary schools and remove the subsidy. This will make the weekends self-financing, but costs would increase to £190 per weekend.

What will this mean

Pupils who qualify for free school meals can currently attend Easter Schools for free - this would not change. The current charges for all other pupils are £30 per week or £6.50 per day, which covers up to two three-hour sessions on a choice of subjects each day. It is proposed to increase the cost to £60 per week or £13 per day. With six hours of tuition available each day, this still offers excellent value for money compared to private tuition (with private tutors charging on average £20 per hour).

The residential study weekends would either stop altogether or they would cost more per pupil than at present, however this will depend on consultation feedback to the options outlined above.

Estimated saving

£50,000

Reduction in vocational programme funding 

Context

Around 500 senior school pupils take part in vocational programmes and courses in a variety of establishments including colleges, universities and with employers. With the opening of the new Barrhead High, and the inclusion of vocational classrooms and facilities in the school, there is opportunity to look for efficiencies in course offerings, staffing and transport.

Proposal

To make the delivery of vocational courses more efficient and to reduce the range of options available whilst ensuring our young people are still provided with a high quality core programme. There would also be a reduction in the 'Determined to Succeed' funding which is also used to support enterprise and vocational activities in schools.

What will this mean

A reduction in the range of courses offered to young people and the curriculum flexibility secondary schools have in the senior phase.

Estimated saving

£129,000

Facilities Management Services

Context

The Education department delivers catering and cleaning to all Council buildings and janitorial services to most schools.

Proposal

Make further reductions in each of these services. School meals are subsidised by the Council and we will look to reduce the level of subsidy provided.

What will this mean
  • We will maximise school meal income and reduce the current level of subsidy to increase the price of school meals to £2.10 in primary and £2.30 in secondary (an increase of 10 pence per meal).
  • Without impacting on nutritional standards, the number of menu options will also be reduced, especially in secondary schools, as well as a review of the menus in primary schools which will reduce our costs.
  • We will continue to seek best value in the procurement of food.
  • We will reduce the number of day cleaners in each secondary school from two to one and move most janitors onto term-time contracts.
  • As part of this work we will also review staff catering arrangements. 
Estimated saving

£764,000

Review of Education Psychology Services

Context

The Psychological Services team supports schools and teams to ensure pupils' needs are met. 

Proposal

This proposal concerns the reduction of members of the Education Psychology Services team, including the number of staff who have duties that include management responsibilities. The continued duties from the posts removed would be absorbed by other members of the team.

What will this mean

Maintaining standards and quality provided by this service remains crucial and by proposing this level of saving it will minimise the impact. The team would prioritise what it offers to reduce the effect on schools and pupils. However, this change could result in an increased waiting time for pupils and families awaiting assessment.

Estimated saving

£132,000

Redesign school-based technician service

Context

Thirty-six technicians are based in our seven secondary schools to provide support in science, technical and multimedia subjects. These staff are involved in preparing materials and equipment in advance of classes beginning.

Proposal

Move all technicians onto term-time contracts and reduce the number of staff by three full time equivalent posts, with duties being absorbed by remaining members of the team.

What will this mean

Some of our school technicians will work across schools rather than be dedicated to one specific site. Health & safety standards would be maintained, although the reduction of staff could impact on the quality of lessons and teacher workload.

Estimated saving

£182,000

Reconfigure Quality Improvement Team

Context

The Quality Improvement (QI) team supports and challenges schools and services to constantly drive improvement and to raise standards in education across the authority. Part of this role is to provide support and challenge to schools in key areas, such as raising attainment, curriculum and planning for improvement. It should also be noted that this proposal needs to be considered in light of the emerging detail of the recent Scottish Government Education Governance Review.

Proposal

A reduction in the number of QI officers, which could be achieved through natural turnover.

What will this mean

Reducing the team could impact the support offered to schools and the ability across the authority for continuous improvement.

Some functions would need to be undertaken by school staff, such as evaluating their performance against others, benchmarking attainment, timetabling, leading national initiatives, delivering training in learning, teaching and assessment and also ensuring compliance with national legislation. 

Estimated saving

£115,000

Reduction in grants to voluntary organisations

Context

We currently support voluntary organisation in return for working with our children and young people in the community. This includes safety workshops and arts and crafts events.

Proposal

To remove this budget.

What will this mean

That these organisations will need to seek funding from other sources to enable them to support our young people in the community. Alternatively they could ask schools to contribute to the costs.

Estimated saving

£8,000

Reduction in centrally managed Health & Safety resources

Context

At present the Health & Safety (H&S) budget for education establishments is managed centrally. This covers necessary works following inspections and contributions to corporate H&S staffing support, as well as some funding provided to Head Teachers during the year to help fund the cost of any H&S actions arising. This is a small budget which covers day to day H&S works such as addressing flooring repairs etc and does not relate to budgets which would be used for any larger scale works on school buildings.

Proposal

Reduction in centrally managed Health & Safety resources.

What will this mean

All essential work related to requirements from H&S audits would continue to be undertaken as normal however some non-essential actions could take longer.

Estimated saving

£34,000

Reduce funding for adaptations to school buildings

Context

A budget of £140,000 is currently set aside for minor property works being carried out within the school estate. This allows work such as creating additional teaching space to accommodate unexpected increases to the school roll to be carried out separate to the wider Council capital plan.

Proposal

Reduce this support budget by 50 per cent.

What will this mean

Reducing this central budget could limit the number of projects supported and works may also take longer.

Estimated saving

£70,000

Efficiencies in Education Services

Over and above the proposals outlined in the consultation, we have also identified a number of efficiencies in the Education department which will allow us to maintain the same high level of delivery but with less money. These include:

  • Using national standardised assessments rather than our own local ones will save us £36,000 per year.
  • By introducing more digitised systems, we will be able to reduce administration and clerical staff in schools and the department. This will save £282,000.
  • Having better procurement (mobile phones and transport) and accessing a free lending service for specialised equipment will allow us to save £80,000.
  • By maintaining and continuing to reduce absence levels we propose to reduce the department's replacement teacher budget by £300,000.
  • We can reduce the costs of utilities in school buildings by closing most of them during holiday periods and lowering the use of heating, lighting and water. This can save £147,000 a year.
  • We have been developing a range of local specialist services for young people who have specific learning and development needs so that they can remain at home with their families whilst still getting the support they require, or reducing the need for travel to other specialist facilities outwith East Renfrewshire. As well as improving standards for our pupils this means that we can also save around £118,000 a year from the costs of finding specialised placements outwith East Renfrewshire.

Total estimated savings from general efficiencies: £963,000

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