Excellent inspection report for Balgay Hill Nursery School

It was very pleasing, earlier this week, to be advised of the excellent inspection report for Balgay Hill Nursery School, undertaken by Education Scotland.
 
The evaluations and key strengths outlined in the report highlight the very positive experience children receive at Balgay Hill Nursery School:

Key strengths of the school

  • Children are actively engaged and motivated in their learning.
  • Staff provide a nurturing, caring and welcoming learning environment.
  • Inclusive ethos in supporting children and their families.
  • Transition arrangements for children transferring to P1.
  • Effective leadership of the headteacher.
More detail of the inspection report can be read here.    Congratulations go to Mrs Cowan, Head Teacher, and her team, for such an excellent outcome.
 
You can read more about the work of the Friends of Balgay Hill Nursery School here.

Parking and pupil safety at the West End Nursery and Primaries Campus

West End Nursery & Primaries Campus entrance area
I have previously raised, at the City Council School Parking and Pupil Safety Working Group – and elsewhere – constituent concerns about road safety at the West End campus (St Joseph’s PS; Victoria Park PS; Balgay Hill Nursery School).  
 
I recently asked the council’s Head of Transportation for an update on proposed actions and he has advised:
 
“The main areas of concern were around the Glenagnes Road entrances (to the school and car park) with parents accessing and thus mixing with the pupils as they were leaving the school and using the staff car park.  
 
The options to be looked at included changes to the access to both the school service road and car park with the use of barriers (automatic and linked to school office), these are triggered by authorised fob holders or by pushing an intercom.  In addition it was agreed that the school keep clear markings may need to be revised as some parents / carers thought it was ok to stop in the gap in the markings at the service road entrance.
The items above will be looked at during this FY and we will then see if they can implemented this FY or early into FY14/15, budgets dependant.
In general we observed the majority of pupils walking and those collecting by car using the park and stride facilities away from the school.  However there were a small proportion undertaking inappropriate driving behaviour.”

Pupil safety outside Dundee schools

This afternoon, I took part in the latest meeting of the City Council’s working group tackling school parking and pupil safety outside schools across the city.
 
I took the opportunity to again raise my concerns and those of constituents about road safety in the vicinity of the West End schools’ campus – Balgay Hill Nursery School, Victoria Park Primary School and St Joseph’s Primary School.    The concerns include some drivers driving into the school campus area (instead of parking on-street) against school advice and some inappropriate on-street parking including drop off and pick up of pupils on Blackness Road.
 
I am pleased to advise that, after hearing my concerns, the council’s Chief Executive proposed a site visit to the schools to look at the issues and agree steps to tackle them.   This will take place before the end of term later this month.
 
It should be stressed that the vast majority of parents and carers drop off their children appropriately and with care and respect for others, but any remaining safety concerns must be tackled.
 
I also spoke about the situation outside St John’s High School and was assured that a meeting with the school will take place next term to discuss any parking and safety issues.

West End Schools’ Campus Official Opening

This morning, along with many other guests, I had the pleasure of attending the West End Schools’ Campus Official Opening at the magnificent new home for Balgay Hill Nursery School, St Joseph’s Primary School and Victoria Park Primary School.
 
The musical and dance contributions by the pupils were excellent and it was a thoroughly enjoyable morning.   Here’s a couple of photographs from a most memorable and enjoyable event:
A welcome from pupils from all three schools
The talented choir that contains pupils from all years from all three schools

A great success for the Balgay Hill Nursery School Parents’ Group

At lunchtime today, I had the pleasure of saying a few words of welcome and thank you to the huge turnout of parents and pupils of Balgay Hill Nursery School as they met up at Victoria Park to set off on their sponsored walk round Balgay Park and Hill to raise funds for outdoor play equipment at the school.
 
It was great to see such a large group of children, mums, dads, other family members and friends take part and our thanks go to all and in particular to Sharon and her colleagues on the Parents’ Group and to Mrs Cowan, Head Teacher.
Ready for the sponsored walk start!

Continued concern over parking at West End schools campus

Since the opening of the West End schools campus at Glenagnes Road/Blackness Road last year (the home of St Joseph’s Primary School, Balgay Hill Nursery School and Victoria Park Primary School), I have raised concerns about pupil and parking safety around the schools’ site.
 
Recently, the situation appeared to have improved, but yesterday – as reported in tonight’s Evening Telegraph – there were real concerns about the situation.   I had a long conversation last night with our local community police officer about the situation and have made some suggestions this morning to the Director of Education and the Head of Transportation at the City Council as follows:
 
*A minority of drivers ignoring the schools’ advice not to enter the school site by car to collect pupils.   I think the time has come to consider a controlled barrier at the entrance to stop unauthorised entry.
*Some pupils leaving via the vehicle access road and not via the pedestrian entrance/exit.    This needs to be addressed.
*Outside the school grounds, parking on zig zags, yellow lines and right on the corner of Glenagnes Road/Street, blocking Glenagnes Street completely.    There is a clear role for parking enforcement staff to effectively tackle this.
 
I had a very prompt response this morning from the Director of Education and I am anxious to see progress to ensure pupil safety.

Balgay Hill Nursery School – Parents’ Group

The Parents’ Group for Balgay Hill Nursery School has started a great fundraising effort to buy new outdoor play equipment for the school.   I’ve been helping them get funding advice and they now have a sponsored walk planned for the end of April.
 
As one of the group members advise :
 
“The idea is for it to be a family fun day and therefore not only the children can be sponsored.  We are trying to open it up to past and future children of the nursery as well as extended family/community groups.  We are in the early stages of planning but have a lot of ideas as to what we will be doing.”
 
This is a great initiative and if any local resident wishes to become involved, do contact me and I’ll ensure the group gets in touch.

Monday meetings

Yesterday, I took part in the latest meeting of the Balgay Stakeholders’ group that gives the opportunity for representatives from Friends of Balgay to discuss issues around the park area with local councillors and representatives of the City Council’s Environment Department.
 
It was a very positive meeting with a number of matters discussed, including:
 
* The “triangle” of ground outside Balgay Park at the Scott Street entrance has been improved and a new shrub bed and trees planted – see right.
 
* New roundabouts are about to be installed in Victoria Park (and also in the Roseangle playpark).     This is something I asked the Environment Department to do following the removal of the old roundabouts on safety grounds.
 
* Work on the Rose Garden is nearing completion, which is very welcome progress.   Two ramps are to be installed to allow for ease of access for visitors with mobility difficulties.   The garden is well-used by patients from Royal Victoria Hospital.   It was also good to hear that the Rotary Club has offered to sponsor two new pergolas at the Rose Garden.
 
* A second bench is now in place at the Poor Ground in Balgay Cemetery.
 
* A new set of alpines are to be planted in the Rose Window in Balgay Park.
 
After a site visit to discuss parking issues around the rail station area, I held my two weekly ward Monday surgeries at the Mitchell Street Centre and at Harris Academy and then I took part in City Council committee meetings.
 
At City Development Committee, I raised the on-going issues about safe drop-off and parking near the new West End schools campus (St Joseph’s Primary School, Balgay Hill Nursery School and Victoria Park Primary School).   I was given assurances by the Head of Transportation that all necessary steps will be taken to ensure any concerns from parents and residents are addressed and I am grateful to his department, the police and the Head Teachers and staff at the schools for the attention they have given to addressing any problems in the Glenagnes Road/Blackness Road area when school pupils are going into or coming out of school.
 
At Social Work and Health Committee, I spoke in a debate about the proposed running of a revised consultation process with service users of the Kemback Street Adult Resource Centre – and their families.   I made clear my view that the Care Inspectorate had made significant criticism of the previous consultation process and that there was a need for the City Council to act promptly and effectively to address these concerns.    
 
The Director of Social Work recommended bringing forward a further report next month giving detail of a new consultation process.   The Labour Group put forward an amendment that would have effectively meant no response by way of a fresh consultation to the Care Inspectorate’s criticisms until 2014.  That was not something I could support – the council does have a duty to respond timeously to the Care Inspectorate’s criticisms and apparently ignoring it for a year is not an acceptable response.    
 
The bottom line for me now is that there is a proper and meaningful consultation with all service users of Kemback Street and their families and I’ll await the Director of Social Work’s full report on the new intended consultation on 25th March.
 
One assurance I got from both the Convener and the Director was that, in bringing forward the detail of a new consultation to committee on 25th March, they accept that no final decision on the future of the Kemback Street facility should be made until every service user has undergone their assessment process, this has been completed and any agreed future service for that person has been communicated to and discussed with the service user and his or her family.

Road safety outside new West End Schools’ Campus

From Dundee City Council:

DUNDEE CITY COUNCIL
ROAD TRAFFIC REGULATION ACT 1984
DUNDEE CITY COUNCIL (GLENAGNES ROAD, DUNDEE)
(VARIATION OF SCHOOL KEEP CLEAR) ORDER 2012
Dundee City Council in exercise of the powers conferred on them by Sections 1(1), 2(1) to (3), 4(1) and (2) and 32 of and Part IV of Schedule 9 to the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (which Act of 1984 is hereinafter referred to as “the said Act”) and of all other powers enabling them in that behalf and after consultation with the Chief Constable in accordance with Part III of Schedule 9 to the Act hereby make the following Order: 
1.
This Order may be cited as “Dundee City Council (Glenagnes Road, Dundee) (Variation of School Keep Clear) Order 2012” and shall come into operation.

 

2.
The Dundee City Council (School Keep Clear Areas) Order 2007 is hereby varied and shall henceforth have effect subject to the
amendments thereto   specified and described as follows:
 
GLENAGNES ROAD
  
NB :   This plan is not easily read in .jpg format.  A higher definition copy of this plan is available to download here

Community tour round of the new West End schools campus

As part of West End Christmas Fortnight, I was very keen to organise a community tour of the new shared campus for Balgay Hill Nursery School, St Joseph’s Primary School and Victoria Park Primary School and I am most grateful to the Director of Education for agreeing to this.
 
Last night, about 30 community representatives and local residents joined Lorna Ferry from the Education Department, Mrs Alison Starke, Head Teacher of Victoria Park Primary School and myself in a tour of what everyone agreed is a superb new educational facility for local children.   Alison and Lorna gave an excellent guided tour that all concerned thoroughly enjoyed.   Here’s a few photos from the tour:

City Council School Parking and Pupil Safety Working Group

Earlier today, I participated in the latest meeting of the City Council School Parking and Pupil Safety Working Group.   Chaired by the Chief Executive, it has been a very productive and positive group of council officers, councillors, Parent Council representatives, Head Teachers and Tayside Police that has worked to improve road safety at schools across Dundee.
 
I took the opportunity today to again highlight the concerns about road safety at the new West End campus (St Joseph’s PS; Victoria Park PS; Balgay Hill Nursery School) that I highlighted on this site and the Courier also highlighted.
 
The working group agreed to my request that attention be given to highlighting safe parking areas and high visibility to ensure the message gets across.   My thanks go to the vast majority of parents and carers who park responsibly near the campus.    Pupil safety is vitally important and the City Council School Parking and Pupil Safety Working Group has worked well to address the issues across the city.

Monday meetings …

This morning, I participated in the final meeting of the West End Schools’ Project Board – the working party that has overseen the new schools’ building project on the former Logie Secondary site that is now the superb new home to St Joseph’s Primary School, Victoria Park (previously Park Place) Primary School and Balgay Hill (previously Park Place) Nursery School.

I gave my views on a number of issues including safe drop-off/pick-up near the schools and the future of the former Park Place schools’ site – the latter is to be utilised by the Education Department for Head Teacher meetings and other uses up to June 2013.
 
I am delighted that there will be an evening community tour of the new schools as part of West End Christmas Fortnight – if you wish to take part, please call my Dundee City Council office on 434985.
 
I spoke during the day to both Wave 102 and Tay AM news about West End Christmas Fortnight and you can hear one of these interviews by clicking ‘play’ below:
After my ward surgeries at the Mitchell Street Centre and Harris Academy, I participated in tonight’s City Council meetings at which:
 
* I welcomed the proposal at the Environment Committee to replace the “missing” roundabouts at the Roseangle and Victoria Park playparks, something I have been campaigning for, on behalf of local residents. I also sought assurances about the maintenance of the high banking at Pentland.
 
* At Housing Committee, I sought assurances that the Green Deal will benefit all tenures, including tenants of registered social landlords.
 
* At the Policy and Resources Committee, I queried the revenue outturn monitoring report and have been given assurances that my concerns will be looked into.

Parking at new West End schools

Glenagnes Road entrance to the schools
Yesterday’s Courier featured my concerns and those of one of the residents who has contacted me regarding some of the parking problems near to the new West End schools in Glenagnes Road and Blackness Road.
 
I have now visited the schools on a number of occasions to look at the issues first hand and major areas of concern are a small minority of drivers who are parking on double yellow lines near the school or letting off children in Blackness Road (in some cases by double parking and blocking the busy road).
 
As I said to the Courier, I have been heartened by the response I have had from the Director of Education and the Head of Transportation at the City Council, who have made it clear that they want to see any problems tackled as soon as possible.
 
Safe drop-off points for parents and carers dropping off their children are indicated in the Safer Routes to the West End Campus leaflet issued to all pupils recently and it is hoped that all will take the advice this useful publication gives.

New West End Schools opening!

This morning, the new West End Schools’ Campus on the former Logie Secondary site has opened (see right) and it was great to see the pupils, parents and teachers of Park Place (now Victoria Park Primary School and Balgay Hill Nursery School) being piped up Hawkhill to join St Joseph’s Primary School pupils, parents and teachers at the old St Joseph’s site in Bellfield Street and together walk to the new building.
 
Here’s a short video of the procession as it walked along Hawkhill earlier this morning:

Safer routes to school – an update

Back in August, I mentioned that Dundee Travel Active was giving every primary pupil/parent a copy of a school-specific safer routes to schools guide to assist pupil safety and safe routes to school.   At that time, I featured the leaflets for Blackness, Ancrum Road and Hillside Primary Schools.
 
Just prior to the end of the last school term, a further leaflet was produced for the pupils who will, after the holidays, attend either of the two primary schools (St Joseph’s and Victoria Park, formerly Park Place Primary) or the nursery (Balgay Hill, formerly Park Place Nursery) that open at the new Logie campus in Glenagnes Road.
 
You can download the leaflet by going to http://tinyurl.com/safety-logie.

New West End Schools – latest contractor’s newsletter

As I have previously indicated, there has been good progress with regard to completion of the new St Joseph’s Primary School, Park Place Primary School (to be newly named Victoria Park Primary School) and Park Place Nursery School (to be newly named Balgay Hill Nursery School).
 
The new schools on the Logie site will be opened after the October school holiday.
 
The contractor has kept adjacent residents updated throughout the building of the new schools and recently issued his seventh newsletter to residents.   You can download it by going to http://tinyurl.com/schoolnewsletter7.

West End Schools’ Project Board

Yesterday afternoon, I attended the latest meeting of the West End Schools’ Project Board, the group overseeing the project to build the new St Joseph’s Primary School, Park Place Primary School and Park Place Nursery School.

Construction progress is on schedule with a targeted completion time of mid-September.   This will allow for the pupils and staff to move to their new schools on the former Logie Secondary School site after the October holiday.

The Park Place schools will have new names (as they will no longer be sited in Park Place) – these will be Balgay Hill Nursery School and Victoria Park Primary School.    The Education Department has updated me as to the process used to choose these new names, as follows:

Park Place Primary School


All pupils, parents and staff were engaged in the process.
A survey was carried out on whether or not to change the new name.
Suggestions were sought for a new name.
All were involved in voting their choice from a short list of three (background information was provided for all on why was would be an appropriate name).
Pupil Council counted the votes.
The whole process was discussed at each Local Implementation Group.


Park Place Nursery School

The names were chosen in full consultation with the parents.  The parents came up with five names and these were sent out for them to select their favourite.
The logos/badges were drawn by the children and four were scanned on the one piece of paper for the parents with their children to choose their favourite.  Staff had the same choice.