Scott: Attempts to reduce teacher workload a “dossier of failures”

By davidmay

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Tavish Scott has branded efforts by Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) bosses to reduce teacher workloads as a “dossier of failures”, following their appearance at the Parliament’s Education Committee today.

Scottish Liberal Democrat analysis has found that the CfE Management Board discussed rising teacher workloads on numerous occasions since 2012 but that the Board failed to take effective action to curb it, resulting in an overwhelming increase in paperwork.

Speaking after this morning’s education committee, Mr Scott said:

“Since 2012 the issue of teacher workloads has been raised time and time again and the proposed solution has always been more guidance and more clarification letters from those overseeing the roll-out of Curriculum for Excellence.

“It got to the point where teachers were dealing with an astonishing 20,000 pages of guidance. The CfE Management Board’s efforts amount to a dossier of failures.

“There is a simple solution: step away from bureaucracy and let teachers teach.”

As a former head teacher and member of Angus Council Children and learning committee it is clear to me that Tavish Scott is absolutely correct in his comments, as we have had Scottish Government education minister after education minister promising cuts in teacher world and nothing has changed. This lack of action has led not only to teachers retiring early and leaving teaching, it has also meant that we are having huge problems in attracting people into teaching. This is reflected in the shortages of teachers that many of our schools are facing and our young people suffer.

From:: David May

Sale of old swimming pool at Montrose

By davidmay

The council committee approved the sale of the old swimming pool to the Playhouse Committee today. As a member of the committee which has been working hard to bring a full time cinema with added facilities to our area this is great news as it will make quite a difference when we apply for funding to external bodies.

Our committee have organised several very successful fundraising activities over the past few years including the Christmas market and outdoor cinema. Last Sunday we had the first of our monthly film days in Montrose Academy Hall. The 3 films of Moana, Fantastic Beasts and Rogue one provide to be very popular and next month we have 3 other new films to see.

Attendance at the films is very important as this will help to show potential funding sources there is sufficient demand for a community cinema and facilities in our area.

From:: David May

North East MSP, Mike Rumbles, attacks Mental Health failures in Angus.

By davidmay

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for the North East, Mike Rumbles today criticised the Scottish Governments failure to address shortages of mental health staff which has resulted in the interim closure of the Mulberry Unit at Stracathro Hospital.

Mr Rumbles expressed particular concern over criticism directed at NHS Tayside, who have been hit particularly hard by the national shortage of staff.

Mr Rumbles said:

“I am frustrated that those with the Cabinet Secretary for Health’s ear have chosen to attack NHS Tayside rather than the SNP Administrations failure to address the shortage of mental health staff in Angus and across Scotland.

“The closure of the Mulberry Unit will force mental health patients and families from Angus to travel into Dundee for treatment and to visit their loved ones. The shortage of junior doctors and mental health professionals is being felt acutely here in Angus and the buck stops with Cabinet Secretary for Health and the Minister for Mental Health, not the struggling board of NHS Tayside.”

From:: David May

The interim closure of the Mulberry Unit is caused by the failure of the SNP health Minister to recruit staff.

By davidmay

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As a local councillor and a member of the joint board for Angus Health and Social Care partnership it is now clear to me that the shortage of appropriately trained staff is the reason for the this interim closure of the £20 Million Mulberry Unit at Stracathro which was only opened in December 2011. This can laid at the door of the Scottish Government Health Minister and she and her predecessor, who have failed to recruit an adequate number of mental health staff. I have already heard from Angus residents that this so called interim closure have expressed they concerns that this will lead to a permanent closure as there can be no guarantee that approriate staff can be recruited.

Angus residents are rightly and clearly appalled at this threat as closing the facility has an impact on crisis help in Angus as well as community-based care. It is obvious that even a temporary closure will mean additional travel and costs for many patients and staff, and support from family and friends for patients will be more difficult. I have also have concerns that any threat to the Mulberry unit also impacts on the Susan Carnegie and Stroke units at the hospital, which share staff and the health minster must take action to stop this.

The closure of local mental health units such as the excellent Mulberry Unit totally inconsistent with the 20/ 20 vision of the SNP government to treat people at home or as near to home as possible and may force people in our Angus rural communities to travel unnecessary distances to receive the treatment they need.”

“There is no doubt that the SNP are again letting Angus down as yet again we are facing cuts to our service.”

Mike Rumbles, Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for the North East has joined me in accusing the Scottish Government of “washing their hands” of their mental health failures, passing the buck to cash strapped Tayside Health Boards and this has led to the so called interim closure of the Mulberry unit

Mr Rumbles said: “It is absolutely unacceptable that the Minister for Public Health has chosen to pass the buck
for inadequate mental health services to our NHS Boards such as the Tayside one.

“The underfunding of mental health services continues to be an issue, with the Scottish Government only providing
an additional £150 million over the next 5 years. That’s £30 million a year between 14 health boards. Acute services in NHS Tayside will receive just £381,033 per year, and that’s just not good enough!

“The SNP Government needs to accept responsibility for mental health and commit to serious investment to ensure our
communities receive the service they deserve.”

From:: David May

Changes to the school week

By davidmay

There was a report on the children and learning council committee yesterday on changes to the school, week in Angus and despite the report which we were given I still have grave reservations about them.

One of the reasons given for this changein the school week to have an early close in Fridays was the much lauded activities that pupils could get involved in. One of the points for the change was made about the very useful skills the young people would acquire which would serve them in future employment and the range of sporting and volunteering experiences

However, it seems that not only will there clearly be a shortage of these activities and opportunities there are emerging real concerns from parents and communities about what happens to the numbers of pupils that do not take part.

There is also the question of who pays for these youngsters to take part in activities in for example Angus Alive and it seems that the parents will foot the bill, and there is also a question abut where will the staffing come from to organise this.

I highlighted before about who is going to monitor this and I still have concerns about this.

Lastly in this model which has been devised I would be interested in how the consultation was done

From:: David May

Ward issues

By davidmay

In the last week I have been following up on various constituents issues and connected the appropriate council officer about them. These have included bins on pavements, rural bin collections, blocked drains, gutters full of weeds and the damage at the entrance to Hillside.

From:: David May

Damage to entrance to Hillside.

By davidmay

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I was contacted earlier today about the mess made by a vehicle both in knocking down a post and badly damaging the grass at the entrance to Hillside and made a point of seeing it for myself. I have no information of when it happened or what happened, but if anyone who has information, if they have not done so already, to contact the police directly by phone or via their e mail address
TaysideMontroseDistrictCPT@Scotland.pnn.police.uk. Alternatively they can contact me.
I have been in touch with the police and our council roads department about the mess made.

From:: David May

Murray Lane Montrose.

By davidmay

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On my way to a meeting with Val Cooper at the YM, I am delighted to see the progress in the changes to Murray Lane which has been difficult for some elderly, disabled and others to get along.

Although the work has not been completed I am aware that the path has been hugely improved while preserving the cobbles, and is much easier to get along for pedestrians.

From:: David May

The road going north after the Borrowfield roundabout

By davidmay

I was contacted about near accidents with vehicles travelling north after the mini Borrowfield roundabout, as it seems that some drivers are not sure which lane to be in when approaching the traffic lights.

Consequently, I was in touch with a senior council officer about this and he indicated that he would get this investigated and raise the issue at the December meeting of the Angus Area Traffic Co-ordination Group

Since the meeting he has informed me that he will provide additional signage and road markings to advise north bound traffic approaching the light-controlled junction of the lane designation. The proposed signing will provide advance notice of the road layout ahead and additional road markings at the junction itself will inform motorists as to what lane is to be used dependant on their intended direction of travel.

I hope this will help drivers to get into the right lane and as a result avoid possible accidents.

From:: David May

Montrose Royal Infirmary

By davidmay

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There have been concerns in the town for some time about the long term future of Montrose Royal Infirmary and it seems to be the case that the capacity has been reduced and apparently there has been recent staffing issues.

The response to these concerns from an official of Tayside Health Board to the concerns is “I would like to reassure the public that the GP ward at Montrose Infirmary remains open and that there are sufficient staffing resources available throughout Angus to continue to provide safe and high quality patient care in Montrose. We have been reviewing staffing levels at Montrose Infirmary to enhance nurse cover and to ensure that safe, efficient and effective rostering practices are being employed.

It is clear to me as a councillor and local resident that there are huge advantages in having the GP managed hospital beds with high quality nursing support locally available and I am aware of the benefits this can give patients, especially at this stage of their life as it means the GPs can support them and their families at this stage in their lives of increased frailty for some very , vulnerable patients.

The quality of the care that is given to the patients in our infirmary is second to none and I have heard massive compliments about their staff for the support they give

From:: David May