Dundee education chiefs: Improving pupils’ counting skills is top priority

Gregor Murray and Audrey May
Gregor Murray and Audrey May

Improving the counting skills of Dundee’s school children is right at the top of the list of priorities for Dundee City Council education chiefs.

The city council’s new chief education officer, Audrey May, said one of the key focuses of the council’s newly published education plan was numeracy.

In an exclusive interview with the Tele, Ms May, along with convener of the children and families services committee Gregor Murray, said it was only one of a list of improvements they plan to make in education in Dundee in the next few years.

Gregor Murray talks to Tele reporter Lindsey Hamilton

And she said that one of the ways it’s hoped to do that is by continuing to increase the number of teachers in Dundee.

She said: “Our key goals are to continue to improve literacy, work more on improving numeracy skills, support young people with health and well-being issues and in employability support them into a positive destination.”

Ms May said that other priorities include establishing a looked-after children champions board in every secondary and cluster of primary schools, developing the Breakthrough Dundee project and giving every looked-after young person and carer an adult mentor from the local business and industry community.

Audrey May talks to Tele reporter Lindsey Hamilton

Also on the agenda is working towards doubling the number of nursery places available in Dundee and supporting young carers to ensure their education doesn’t suffer.

Presenting the council’s first annual education plan, Ms May said: “The plan has been developed at a time of exciting changes and opportunities in the planning, commissioning, management and delivery of all services to children and young people.

“It has been developed in collaboration with schools and children, young people and carers, and outlines the actions we intend to take to contribute towards achieving and implementing ‘the getting it right for every child’.”

She said the plan outlined the actions to be implemented over the course of the academic year 2017/18.

She said: “Recently we have very successfully worked towards improving literacy skills.

“Now we plan to turn our attention more to numeracy.”

Councillor Murray said the council is continuing to work with city businesses such as Michelin, DC Thomson, Thorntons and others, to provide a mentor for young people.

The councillor said: “This has begun at Morgan Academy and we hope this will be rolled out to every secondary school in the city.”

Entitlement to free early learning and childcare will increase the current 600 hours to 1,140 hours by 2020 for all three and four year olds and eligible two year olds

Councillor Murray said: “We are also currently working to make provision for the doubling of nursery places in Dundee.

“We will need to employ 450 new staff to deal with the increase of nursery places to be provided in Dundee by 2020.

“We’re putting in a huge amount of preparation for this change to ensure we can get the services in place for the young children who are entitled to them.

“This means we are not only looking to get more people trained to have the correct skills, we have to make sure that there are appropriate buildings available, including new buildings and upgrading and extending existing buildings.”