Getting the best out of schools and the community

Four new working groups have been set up by the City of Edinburgh Council to tackle issues facing schools in the city.

The aim of these groups is to engage with stakeholders and assist the Education, Children and Families Sub-Committee in its task of developing policy with cross-party support.  

One key group will consider Community Access to Schools (CATS).  The aim of this group is to support the Council in its efforts to maximise community access to schools, building upon the educational, cultural, sporting, leisure and community activity already taking place at numerous schools throughout the city.

Councillor Paul Godzik, Education Convener said, "Schools are, in many instances, the biggest and best facilities in many communities and we want to see them being accessed in a better way that supports local communities and addresses local need. It is important to highlight that CATS is about much more than sport with many of these facilities being used for lifelong learning, adult education, youth work  and to provide support to community groups. We want to build on these links and further strengthen the role of our schools in the community."

The group will consider changes to how communities can access facilities through new programmes, potentially using an online bookings and payments system.  These changes will take into account and compliment a number of National and Local priorities, and members will work with key partners such as Edinburgh Leisure and Sportscotland.  An example of this would be that the shared commitment to continue to develop Community Sports Hubs which have had very positive results at three Edinburgh High Schools in the past twelve months.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Convener of Culture and Sport said; "Since February last year, the Forrester/St Augustine's and Broughton Sports Hubs have seen the number of clubs using their facilities increase three fold. Further, Forrester High School has seen usage figures increase by almost fifty per cent whilst maintaining existing community access. By rolling this out further, together with the changes being looked at by this working group, we will promote increased use, wider community involvement and healthier living in our schools."

The CATS review will identify other Secondary Schools that are best placed to function as Community Sport Hubs.  

 The other working groups that are being set up will focus on;

 -   Strengthening support for pupils with behavioural difficulties - this group will take a broad look to build on good practice and provide early support to enhance inclusion in mainstream schools.

 -  Estate strategy and rising rolls (for implementation in 2014 onwards) -  building on the work of a short life working group which ran last year this group will focus on the challenges faced in Edinburgh around in increase in pupil registrations and the concentration of numbers in popular school catchment areas.

 -  Early Years - looking at the implementation of Edinburgh's Early Years Strategy which will include participation with other partners in the national Early Years Collaborative.

Each of these working groups will be kicking off in the coming weeks with reports due back to committee usually within one cycle.

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