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Agenda item

Good News


The Convener advised the Committee as to a number of good news stories as follows –

·         Imagining Aberdeen:  Children’s Parliament Video

The Committee was reminded of the work that had been done with the Children’s Parliament and “Imagining Aberdeen” and was shown a short video which presented the ‘Imaging Aberdeen’ participants’ visions for the city.


The Convener expressed that the film detailing the visions was incredibly moving and thought provoking – particularly when Members considered that the staff from the Children’s Parliament had only been working in the four schools, namely, Riverbank, Manor Park, Tullos and Bramble Brae since January 2016.  These children, the “Imagineers”, had only been working together since May 2016, and had achieved so much together in such a short space of time, it was truly commendable.


The mural and film were not the end of the project.  They were very much a starting point for improved dialogue with children and young people – a dialogue which facilitated their increased involvement in the policies and practices that shaped their city.  Already officers were using the reports from the ‘Imagineers’ and their peers to inform the new children’s services plan, and the mural and film were being used to help facilitate engagement with some communities in planning for improvements.


The Convener advised that the Service was going to continue to engage with the Children’s Parliament over the coming year.  It also planned to further embed the work in the four schools by exploring how a rights based approach in the classroom could improve attainment – a high priority for all.  In addition there were plans to widen the project to other schools across the city.  Staff and pupils would present at a City Wide Head Teacher meeting in September 2016, and share the value of their experiences.  Colin Morrison and his team were also working with colleagues in Education and Children’s Services to plan the delivery of professional learning to other staff across the city schools.


Finally, the Convener reiterated the commitment of Aberdeen City Council to listen to and respond to the views expressed in the mural and film.  The Council wanted to ensure decision making reflected the voice of its youngest citizens, and was underpinned by the values of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Wellbeing indicators.  It also wanted to continue to realise the Imagineers’ vision for a ‘Healthy, Happy and Safe’ Aberdeen, and looked forward to a continued partnership with the Children’s Parliament over the coming months.


The Committee commended the project and thanked Colin Morrison and his team for the work they had undertaken with the four schools.


·         Aberdeen’s Festival of Light nominated for multiple awards

SPECTRA 2016 - Aberdeen’s spectacular festival of light - had been nominated in three categories of The Drum Scottish Event Awards 2016, which recognised success and innovation within events and festivals nationally.


In only its third year SPECTRA had been nominated for ‘Cultural Event of the Year’, ‘Large Event of the Year’ and ‘Festival of the Year’, and would go up against long-established events including the Turner Prize which was held in Glasgow earlier this year; the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (Underbelly Circus Hub); The Enchanted Forrest; the Glasgow International Comedy Festival; and The Royal Highland Show.


Now a firm fixture on Aberdeen’s cultural calendar, this year’s SPECTRA was enjoyed by 35,000 visitors over the course of the festival in February.  Union Terrace Gardens, St Nicholas Kirk and Marischal College were transformed with spectacular and innovative light installations created by international artists and smaller events at Seventeen and the Anatomy Rooms.


To be nominated alongside events like the Turner Prize was a huge honour and highlighted the hard work from Aberdeen City Council staff and Curated Place to bring such a unique festival to the people of Aberdeen.  SPECTRA proved to be very popular with residents and had been embraced by artists, and this was set to continue, making SPECTRA a real northern light in Scotland’s cultural scene.


The winner was due to be announced at an awards ceremony on Wednesday 5 October 2016 in Glasgow.


SPECTRA 2016 had also been nominated for Best Creative Lighting Event at the Darc Architecture Awards alongside other major international light festivals including the Colosseum Light Messages, Italy; Lighting Up the Royal Seaport’s Gas Holders, Sweden and San Francisco City Hall Centennial Celebration, USA.  The winner would be announced at the awards ceremony, in London on Thursday 15 September 2016.


With next year’s festival currently in development this acknowledgement of the whole team’s efforts would have the team fired up to deliver bigger and better than ever before.  SPECTRA would return to Aberdeen in February 2017.


·         Exhibition marks 400th anniversary of one of Aberdeen’s oldest buildings

To mark the 400th anniversary of one of Aberdeen’s oldest buildings a new exhibition ‘Tales from The Tolbooth’ had opened, which explored the early years of one of the best preserved 17th century gaols in Scotland.


The Tolbooth Museum, Castle Street, originally the Wardhouse of the Tolbooth, was built between 1616 and 1629 by master mason Thomas Watson.  The Wardhouse served as the prison for both the Royal Burgh of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire until the 19th century.


Over the years many notorious local characters stayed at the Tolbooth and the exhibition explored the history of the building, and crime and punishment through the experiences of five of its earliest residents, namely: Alexander Fraser, Lillias Skene, Margaret Campbell, Charles Duff and Peter Williamson also known as Indian Peter - whose stories were recorded in Aberdeen’s well-preserved historical archives.


The exhibition had been created by Aberdeen City Council’s curator of history Jenny Pape, who worked closely with Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives, and the University of Aberdeen’s special collections centre to reveal the grim experiences of the five captives to new visitors to the Tolbooth Museum.


To mark the anniversary the ‘five residents’ would ‘come to life’ during the museum’s participation in Doors Open Day on Saturday 10 September, with a range of activities for visitors to enjoy.  The exhibition would run until Saturday 13 April 2018.


·         Teachers get on their bikes for charity

A group of Aberdeen Head Teachers and Depute Head Teachers took part on a daunting charity cycle challenge on Saturday 27 August and Sunday 28 August 2016.


Team “Closing The Gap” covered 175 miles over the course of Saturday 27 August and Sunday 28 August, starting off from Rhynie in Aberdeenshire to Inverness, and back to Rhynie.


Sponsorship money raised by the Aberdeen teachers would go to Charlie House, an Aberdeen-based charity which helped children with complex difficulties and life limiting conditions.  The team included staff from Aberdeen Grammar School, Hazlehead Academy, Hazlehead Primary School, Bucksburn Academy and Middleton Park School.  The team was made up of Alison Muirson, Mark Jones, Kassim Muhammad, Stuart Craig, Mark Jones, Barbara Jones and Jenny Watson.


·         Middleton Park  the first in Aberdeen to receive UK award for outstanding digital creativity

Middleton Park Primary beat off competition to become the UK‘s Creative School of 2016 at the Times Educational Supplement (TES) Awards dinner in London on Friday 24 June 2016.


The school’s staff and Head Teacher were praised for raising pupils confidence, skills and attainment through a wide range of creative and digital projects such as a ‘mission to Mars’ which saw the children work with an Artist in Residence to create their own art gallery.


Outdoor learning, multi-media courses and film-making were all part of the curriculum for youngsters at the school in Aberdeen’s Bridge of Don.  They had put in place a game-changing approach to teaching that endorsed innovative, creative learning which centred on each individual child’s ability and personality so they get the best outcomes.


Not only had such teaching methods resulted in the pupils striving academically, it was quite evident the pupils at Middleton Park were extremely confident and self-aware children who understood the benefits and joys of learning.  The TES Award celebrated the vision, commitment and outstanding contribution to education made by teachers in the classroom and the wider community.


The Committee congratulated all staff at Middleton Park Primary, under the leadership of Head Teacher, Jenny Watson.


·         Teacher Recruitment

The Convener advised that following on from the Committee meeting on 2 June 2016, under Item 6 2015/16 Revenue Budget Monitoring, wherein the Committee endorsed the Council Leader’s letter to the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, she was delighted to report that the Cabinet Secretary had replied, stating that he “understands the particular challenges your local authority faces in respect of teacher recruitment”, “welcomes our cross-party approach to help find solutions to this issue” and was “pleased to meet with yourself and colleagues in Aberdeen to consider what further action we can take”.