School catchment area consultation – an update #dundeewestend

Last week, I advised that Dundee City Council has launched a consultation on a number of schools proposals.
Part of the proposals see substantial proposed changes to the catchment areas of the primary schools that are feeder schools to Harris Academy.
In the West End, there are significant proposed changes to the Blackness Primary, Victoria Park Primary and Ancrum Road Primary catchment areas.
I can now advise that consultation meetings about the West End proposals will take place on Wednesday 26th February and, again, on Monday 16th March, with a drop-in from 6pm to view the proposals and a presentation and Q&A session at 7pm – all welcome
You can view the full proposals here.

Pennycook Lane – great work by Blackness Primary School #dundeewestend

The area of former spare ground on the south side of Pennycook Lane opposite Blackness Primary School is looking great – see below :
As one of the residents in the nearby sheltered housing advised : “Can I just draw your attention to the wonderful job the staff at Blackness Primary (with the help of the children, I think) have done with the spare bit of ground.  It looks really good and they should be commended for it.”

Friends of Blackness meeting

Earlier tonight, I attended the first Friends of Blackness meeting of the new term.   Friends of Blackness undertakes both the Parent Council and Parent Teacher Association roles at Blackness Primary School.
It was an extremely positive meeting and Gordon Ferrier, Head Teacher, reported a likely very healthy P1 intake for the forthcoming 2016/17 year.     There was also a useful discussion about parking issues near to the school and promoting safe drop off and collection of pupils from the school.

Busy Tuesday …

Yesterday morning, I had the pleasure of attending a Fairtrade Breakfast at the City Chambers to mark Fairtrade Fortnight.    
It was an thoroughly enjoyable breakfast with pupils from local schools who are helping to promote Fairtrade in their schools and communities.    There was also an excellent presentation from St John’s High School pupils.
Here’s a couple of photos from the event :
Presentation by St John’s High School pupils
Later in the morning, I met with a constituent and two officers from the City Development Department of the City Council to look at road safety for Blackness Primary School pupils and pedestrians generally crossing Perth Road near Pennycook Lane.    
It was agreed that the pedestrian crossing can be improved – by resiting the large utilities box on the south side of the crossing that obscures pedestrians from drivers heading west (see first photo below).    It was also agreed that, once funding is available, the crossing (see second photo below) will be modernised, with better signals with LED lights. 


Last night, I attended the latest meeting of Friends of Blackness at Blackness Primary School.   Friends of Blackness covers the roles of both Parent Council and Parent Teacher Association.    It was a very positive meeting with updates from Mr Ferrier, Head Teacher, about school activities, staffing update and the school improvement plan and a discussion about the structure of future meetings.    
I updated the group about the earlier site meeting and also the issue of improved bicycle storage at the school.

Zig zag safety markings and yellow lines – Blackness Primary School

Residents have complained to me that the zig zag safety markings and yellow lines outside Blackness Primary School in Pennycook Lane are badly worn – see right.
I brought this to the attention of the City Council’s Head of Roads and Transportation, who has responded as follows :
“I will ask the parking team to include this location in next batch of yellow lining remarking.    It will be later this year that this can be undertaken as the temperatures are too low and road surface too wet to undertake at this time of year.”

West End Christmas Vintage Motor Cavalcade – and Blackness Primary School’s Christmas Fair

Yesterday saw the West End Christmas Vintage Motor Cavalcade take place as part of West End Christmas Fortnight.   Many thanks to Dundee Museum of Transport for arranging such an excellent vintage vehicles’ cavalcade through the West End, Barnetts Mazda for sponsoring it, Ally Bally of Radio Tay for launching the cavalcade and the many folk en route who gave us a wave!
Here’s a couple of photos :
Some of the folk taking part yesterday including Ally Bally (far left), Paul Barnett of Barnetts Motor Group (second right) and Matthew Jackson of Dundee Museum of Transport (to the immediate left of Paul)
The motorcade heads up Hawkhill!
… and Blackness Primary School had a superb turnout at its Christmas Fair yesterday too!

Tuesday meetings

Yesterday afternoon, I attended the City Council’s School Parking and Pupil Safety Working Group where there was a detailed discussion about policy on the provision of School Crossing Patrollers.   
I asked how quickly the very welcome new patroller site at the bottom of City Road next to Milnbank Gardens will be in place.   This will be of benefit to many Victoria Park Primary School and St Joseph’s Primary School pupils and I was advised it was hoped to have the new School Crossing Patroller in place by the start of term after the October holiday.
Yesterday evening, I firstly attended the latest Friends of Blackness meeting at Blackness Primary School.   Friends of Blackness covers the roles of both Parent Council and Parent Teacher Association.  The school has a record P1 intake this year and a very healthy roll and its good to see such a good turnout at the meeting and positive work undertaken by Friends of Blackness on behalf of the school community.
Later yesterday evening, I attended the Harris Academy Parent Council meeting, again a very positive meeting.    Mrs White, Acting Head Teacher, gave a very comprehensive update about the school’s activities and very positive SQA examination results.    
There was also a good discussion with the Head of Transportation about travel and drop-off arrangements for the school once it returns to Perth Road next year.   
It is good to see that work has started this week (see right) on the new pedestrian crossing being installed on Riverside Drive to the south side of the Harris Perth Road site and the playing fields at Riverside.

Well done Blackness Primary School!

Earlier this year, I highlighted the City Council’s welcome tidying of one of the areas at the south end of the Pennycook Lane car park.
To the immediate east of this was an untidy area next to the hanging baskets belonging to the local sheltered housing residents’ association and I asked Blackness Primary School if it would wish to take it over to add to its gardening initiatives and the Environment Department if this would be allowed.
Both agreed and I am delighted to see the school’s pupils already making a difference here:

Saturday activities …

Yesterday, I was pleased to attend the Summer Fayres at Ancrum Road and Blackness Primary Schools.   Both were really well attended, really enjoyable and really good value for money too – with adult entry at each only £1!
Here’s some Saturday photographs :
A busy Ancrum Primary School Summer Fayre
At the Ancrum Road Primary School Fayre 
Blackness Primary School’s event was equally well-attended
Always a good sport, Gordon Ferrier was back in the stocks!
City Church on Tullideph Road also had their Family Fun Day yesterday

Damaged safety barrier at Blackness Primary School – action taken

Following concerns expressed by residents about the damage to the safety barrier outside Blackness Primary School’s Pennycook Lane entrance (see photo right), I raised this with the City Council.


I have been advised in response :
“I can advise that an Inspector has been on site … and advised that the location is safe (no sharp edges etc) and that he will raise and order to get the barrier replaced.

Thursday West End meetings

Yesterday, I took part in tenant consultation meetings at Blackness Court and at Sinderins/Pennycook Courts with Home Scotland representatives, about future scheme manager/support staff posts.   

This was the latest in a series of meetings with tenants I have attended with the tenants since last November and it was agreed yesterday that there will be further consultation meetings towards the end of the year to ensure that the changes to support arrangements are working fine and resolve any issues.
After my ward surgery at Blackness Primary School last night, I attended the West End Local Community Planning Partnership meeting at Blackness Library.
The LCPP meeting is a good opportunity for representatives from different council departments, councillors and representatives from other organisations like police, fire and rescue and the NHS to discuss local issues and matters of concern and also let local residents raise issues, ask questions and have their say.
There was an interesting and informative update from the Partnership Manager at Tayside Contracts/Dundee City Council Roads Maintenance Partnership on the work undertaken to improve and maintain Dundee’s roads and pavements.
I also took the opportunity to highlight an enterprise initiative by the P6 pupils at Blackness Primary School, who are selling West End “Bag Buddy” shopping bags.   Costing only £5 each, they have various West End designs (see below) and can be purchased from the school office, the Rosebud, Nisa, Spar, Fraser’s Fruit & Veg, Indigo House, West End Gallery, Urban Print and Roseangle Arts Cafe. 

Changes to Waste & Recycling collections : roadshows

Further to my latest update about the changes to general waste and recycling arrangements in a large part (but not all) of the West End, the council has arranged roadshows for residents (and for those in parts of Broughty Ferry similarly affected).
There will be two events at Blackness Primary School – details below – all residents welcome :

Friends of Blackness

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the latest Friends of Blackness meeting at Blackness Primary School.
Friends of Blackness undertakes both the Parent Council and Parent Teacher Association roles at the school and, last night, there was an extremely positive meeting with a Head Teacher’s Report, discussion about school meals, feedback on the highly successful Christmas Fair and using funds for school improvements.
Gordon Ferrier, Blackness Primary’s excellent Head Teacher, will be on secondment between April and the start of the 2015/16 session at another primary school, but Blackness Primary will remain in safe hands with Depute Head Teacher Michelle Allan as acting head teacher, pending Gordon’s return in August.

Wednesday meetings

At teatime tonight, I attended a drop-in session at Blackness Library I had helped arrange for local businesses at which Royal Bank of Scotland officials were on hand to offer advice on banking products and issues.
Thereafter, along with representatives of the Friends of Balgay, one of my ward colleagues and a City Council Environment Department officer, I attended the latest Balgay Stakeholders’ Group meeting that took place in the pavilion at Lochee Park.
The group discusses projects and issues at Balgay Park, the Hill, Cemetery and Victoria Park and we had a really good meeting covering a number of positive developments covering various matters around the park from gates to signs, trees, benches and other matters.

Friends of Blackness meeting

Last night, I attended the first Friends of Blackness meeting of the new term.   Friends of Blackness undertakes both the Parent Council and Parent Teacher Association roles at Blackness Primary School.
It was an extremely positive meeting, not least because of the excellent news about the recent Education Scotland inspection report on the school.   This report can be downloaded here.   The report is extremely positive and a real credit to Gordon Ferrier, Head Teacher, his excellent team of staff and the pupils and parents of the school.
Other topics discussed tonight included the welcome extension to the school dining hall and some repainting in the school and in the playground that took place over the summer break, the forthcoming beetle drive for pupils and parents and the Christmas Card Art Project.

School crossing patrollers

I have long campaigned for a permanent school crossing patroller (SCP) at the Kelso Steps on Blackness Road.   I was assured last year that the SCP would be retained here despite Harris Academy being decanted until 2016, given that Blackness Primary School pupils use the crossing point.
However, I have now been advised by the council’s Education Department :
“The crossing point at the Kelso Steps has been re-assessed again, and as in previous assessments, it does not meet the criteria for the establishment for a School Crossing Patroller – this is in accordance with nationally recognised guidelines as directed ROSPA (Road Society for the Prevention of Accidents). 
There remains one out of the two crossing point on Lawton Road vacant – however the one SCP on Lawton Road does move to the problem area during the lunchtime shift to provide cover at this busy time.  
As mentioned previously we did have 9 successful SCP candidates following our last round of interviews and they are currently in the process of being recruited.  They should have completed the administrative process by the start of the new term and their training will commence as soon as possible after the schools return.
Once they have been trained and are ready to be deployed (we) will assess which points are vacant and, in priority order, they will be allocated to these slots.  Unfortunately at this stage it is not possible to know which SCP positions will be vacant or what their priority will be at that time.”
I have responded as follows :
“I do feel if the new resources allow, Kelso Steps and Lawton Road 2nd point should be considered.   I do accept that the footfall at Kelso Steps has dropped whilst Harris is decanted but there are still primary school pupils crossing there to Blackness PS and I feel primary pupils need the greater help crossing at busy points than older pupils.”

Busy Saturday in the West End!

Victoria Park Primary School had their Summer Fayre at the school this morning
Always a good sport, Blackness Primary School Head Teacher Gordon Ferrier was in the stocks again at the school’s Summer Fair!
At the Blackness Primary School Summer Fair,  buying Fairtrade rice to support the campaign to help children from Malawi to get an education 
The City Church Family Fun Day at the Friary is on until 4pm today!

Friends of Blackness meeting

Last night, I attended the latest Friends of Blackness meeting at Blackness Primary School.   Friends of Blackness covers the roles of both Parent Council and Parent Teacher Association.
Mr Ferrier, Head Teacher, reported that the recent school inspection by Education Scotland has now taken place.   The report on the inspection will be published immediately after the school summer holidays – on 26th August.
It was announced that the school’s new website has been recently launched and you can access it here.     The Friends of Blackness also have a very active Facebook page that you can access here.
The school’s summer fete is on Saturday 7th June at the school – 10am to 12 noon – don’t miss it!

Friends of Blackness Primary School

Earlier tonight, I attended the latest committee meeting of the Friends of Blackness (FoB), the group that now covers both Parent Council and Parent Teacher Association activities at Blackness Primary School.
It was a well-attended and very positive meeting at which a number of school activities were discussed, as well as the recent competition to choose a favourite FoB banner that will be displayed outside the school to promote FoB meetings and events.   The banner pictures were drawn by pupils and the winner was the picture with the most ‘likes’ on the FoB Facebook page by Easter Monday and will be announced on the page soon.  
The school will also be launching its new website in the near future.

Congratulations William!

Yesterday at Blackness Library, representatives from the Harris Education and Recreation Association, Friends of the University of Dundee Botanic Garden and I were delighted to present Blackness Primary School pupil William Monk, aged 11, with his prizes for winning this year’s West End Christmas Fortnight Window Spotting Competition.    
Well done William and many thanks to Harris Education and Recreation Association and Friends of the University of Dundee Botanic Garden for sponsoring the prizes!

Blackness Primary School Christmas Fair and more West End Christmas Fortnight cheer! @wendchristmas

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the Blackness Primary School Christmas Fair – really well attended as always! – and the staff and service users of Jericho House sang Christmas Carols on Perth Road outside Nisa Extra too!    Here’s some photos from yesterday’s West End Christmas activities:
The well-attended Blackness Primary School Fair!
Trying to guess the weight of the Roseangle Playpark campaign’s cake! 
Jericho House Carol Singing!

West End Christmas Fortnight Primary Schools’ Art Competition Winners

I was at Tesco Riverside yesterday to meet the store’s community champion Kath Torode – Kath and I are pictured above at a photocall at which, not only did Tesco generously donate to the West End Christmas Fortnight, but also sponsored the West End Christmas Fortnight Primary Schools’ Art Competition.
Each of our four local primary schools – Ancrum Road, Blackness, St Joseph’s and Victoria Park – allowed all P1 and P2 pupils to take part and the winning entries are below.   Well done to Carys, Darci, Josias and Matylda, who each win a Tesco Gift Voucher.   Here are the winning entries below:
Carys Watt of P2A, Ancrum Road Primary School
Darci Reid of P2B, Blackness Primary School
Josias Roma of P2, Victoria Park Primary School
Matylda Karolewska of P1S, St Joseph’s Primary School

Change to West End Surgeries

My weekly ward surgeries will commence again at the start of the new school term later this month (first surgery at Blackness Primary School – Thursday 15th August) but, with the closure of the Harris Academy building in Perth Road for the next three years during the new school building project, my Harris Academy surgery each Monday during school term time will move to the main foyer Mansion House at the West Park Centre, just across the road.    
There’s no change to the surgery days or times and my other two surgeries (Mitchell Street Centre and Blackness Primary School) are completely unchanged.
I am very grateful to the West Park Centre for allowing me to use the centre for my surgery covering the west of the West End Ward over the next three years until Harris Academy’s return to Perth Road.   The centre will also become the polling station for the area over the Harris decant period.
New surgery details are now available on the council website and a copy of my new surgery poster is below:

Good news regarding school crossing patroller – Blackness Road

Back in 2009, I was delighted when the City Council agreed to my request, made on behalf of the parents of pupils of Blackness Primary School and Harris Academy, for a school crossing patroller on busy Blackness Road at the Kelso Steps.
This is a busy crossing and I have had constituents ask for an assurance that the patroller will not be removed when Harris Academy is decanted to Rockwell as he will continue to assist Blackness Primary School pupils cross this busy road.
I am pleased to say that the Director of Education has advised me:
“There are no plans to move this patroller.”

Blackness Primary School Parent Council

Earlier this evening, I attended the latest meeting of Blackness Primary School Parent Council.     Mr Ferrier, Head Teacher, gave a very helpful update on impending building improvements at the school.  It was also great to hear that the school has been awarded a Health Promotion Platinum Award, the first school in Dundee to reach the platinum award level.
The school’s PTA and Parent Council is holding its Summer Fete on Saturday 8th June, between 10am and 12 noon.   The theme this year is recycling, with lots of activities including ‘urban gardens’ (a planting stall), ‘water to wine’ (win wine – or water!), DVD swapshop, and ‘eco school’ (recycled school uniforms).

Blackness Primary School Parent Council

Earlier this evening, I attended a very productive meeting of the Blackness Primary School Parent Council.   
Mr Ferrier, Head Teacher, gave a very positive and comprehensive report on school activities that includes the school’s fundraising efforts for the city’s Haiti Appeal, sports and other activities for pupils and the recent well-attended “open afternoon” at the school.
The Parent Teacher Association is soon to be renamed “Friends of Blackness” – a good move that emphasises that all with a connection to the school are welcome to participate.