Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Friday, 08 June 2007

Venue: Room 135, Parliament Buildings

The meeting opened at 10.32am in public session.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Minutes of the Meeting of 1 June 2007

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 1 June 2007.

3. Correspondence

Agreed – the Committee will facilitate requests for meetings, where possible, by holding informal lunchtime meetings or informal receptions in Parliament Buildings. The Committee asked the Clerk to arrange for an informal reception to be held in Parliament Buildings on Monday 2 July 2007 from 4.00pm to 5.00pm.

Agreed – Committee school visits should be grouped geographically and should be representative of the schools sector.

Agreed – that correspondence will be referred to en bloc at future meetings. Individual items and/or draft responses will be discussed when drawn to the attention of the Committee by a Member.

The Committee considered the following items of correspondence:

(a) The Committee noted the letter from the Coalition of Aid and Development Agencies in Northern Ireland. 
(b) The Committee noted the letter from a concerned resident in Coleraine regarding the siting of a wind turbine in the grounds of Loreto College.

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft response.

(c) The Committee noted the letters received from two Classroom Assistants regarding the issue of job evaluations.

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft responses.

(d) The Committee noted the letter from the Principal of Brackenagh West Primary School.

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft response.

(e) The Committee noted the request to meet with CBI Northern Ireland.

Agreed – the Committee will consider inviting the group to attend an informal lunchtime meeting or an informal reception at a later date.

(f) The Committee noted the paper from Advice NI, ‘Welfare Reform: Challenges, Choices and International Insight’.
(g) The Committee noted the extract from Advice Matters Spring 2007.
(h) The Committee noted the email from Conlig Primary School regarding their application for transformation to controlled integrated status.

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft response.

(i) The Committee noted the memo from Clerk to the Committee of the Centre to the Clerk of the Committee for Education. 
(j) The Committee were reminded of the invitation to the Belfast Education and Library Board’s annual conference for Governors which will take place on Wednesday 20 June 2007 in the Ramada Hotel. 
(k) The Committee noted the letter from the Chairman of the Education Commission of the Chinese Language School Northern Ireland.

Agreed – the Committee will consider inviting the group to attend an informal lunchtime meeting or an informal reception at a later date.

4. Briefing by the Education and Library Boards

The following witnesses joined the meeting at 10.41am:

Helen McClenaghan, Chairperson of the Association of Chief Executives of Education and Library Boards (ELBs) and Chief Executive of Southern Education and Library Board;
Barry Mulholland, Secretary to the Association of Chief Executives of ELBs and Chief Executive of Western Education and Library Board; 
David Cargo, Chief Executive of Belfast Education and Library Board; 
Irene Knox, Chief Executive of South Eastern Education and Library Board; and
Gilly Irwin, Senior Educational Officer, North Eastern Education and Library Board.

The witnesses gave a presentation on the key issues facing the ELBs with regard to the Review of Public Administration (RPA), the transfer procedure and the implementation of the recommendations from the Bain Report. The witnesses then answered questions relating to each topic. The witnesses agreed to provide written responses on a range of issues with regard to RPA including: the current level of co-operation between the ELBs; the need for co-terminocity with health and council sectors; the impact of any change to the proposed number of councils and the delay in implementation of the new council structures on ELB staff; savings that will be made from frontline services as a result of amalgamation or collaboration, and how service sharing may be extended; representation for the controlled sector in the Education and Skills Authority (ESA); why the ELBs consider it important to have one employing authority; and views on how local accountability can be built into the ESA.

The witnesses also agreed to provide written responses on a range of issues with regard to the transfer procedure, including: views on transfer arrangements in the short term/interim until the issue is resolved; the parental choice dimension of arrangements put in place for transfer; consider if the recommendations for area-based planning from the Bain Review should be implemented first, with the change to the transfer procedure following later; and how long it would take to move to a system of transfer at age 14 and the issues the ELBs foresee with such a change. With regard to the Bain Review, it was agreed to forward a copy of the WELB’s Sustainable Schools Policy to the Committee.

Agreed – the Committee will consider exploring the model of co-operation and collaboration currently in operation in Limavady, either by a school visit or an evidence session.

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for the informative briefing and they left the meeting at 11.46am.

Rt. Hon. J Donaldson joined the meeting at 11.14am.
Rt. Hon. J Donaldson left the meeting at 11.37am.
Rt. Hon. J Donaldson rejoined the meeting at 11.41am.
Miss McIlveen left the meeting at 11.46am.
Miss McIlveen rejoined the meeting at 11.47am.
Mr Butler left the meeting at 11.47am.
Rt. Hon. J Donaldson left the meeting at 11.47am.

5. Briefing by the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools

Donal Flanagan, Chief Executive, and Jim Clarke, Deputy Chief Executive, Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS), joined the meeting at 11.47am. The witnesses gave a presentation on the issues facing CCMS with regard to RPA, the transfer procedure and the Bain Report. The witnesses answered questions on a range of issues including: the need for area-based planning, including school ownership by CCMS and rural school closures; the potential conflict of interest if ESA was to be both school owner and provider of services; the need for representation for the controlled sector within ESA and ESA controlled school ownership; the link between education provision and the economy; and the need for an urgent decision to be made on the way forward for the transfer procedure. 
The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for the informative briefing and they left the meeting at 12.25pm.

Rt. Hon. J Donaldson rejoined the meeting at 11.49am.
Mr Butler rejoined the meeting at 11.53am.
Rt. Hon. J Donaldson left the meeting at 12.03pm.
Mr Butler left the meeting at 12.25pm.

6. Presentation by the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment

Neil Anderson, Acting Chief Executive, Richard Hanna and Charlie Sproule, Business Unit Managers, and Robert Shilliday, Communications Manager, Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) joined the meeting at 12.26pm. The witnesses gave a presentation on the key issues facing CCEA with regard to RPA, the transfer procedure and the Bain Report, which was followed by a question and answer session. The CCEA agreed to provide the Committee with written responses on a range of issues including: the CCEA advice and evidence used to move to a more skills-based curriculum; details of the preparation there has been and needs to be for the introduction of the new revised curriculum; clarification of options for transfer to post-primary education, particularly the adaptation of the current format of the transfer test for use beyond 2008; and who decides what the curriculum will be and how it will meet the needs of both the child and society in the future.

Agreed – the Chairperson should write to the CCEA requesting further clarification of the timescales involved in adapting the current 11-plus test for use beyond 2008 to reflect the new revised curriculum and the evidence used or provided by CCEA to develop the new curriculum.

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for the useful discussion and they left the meeting at 1.00pm.

7. Department of Education’s Draft Disability Action Plan

Agreed – the Committee will consider the Department of Education’s Draft Disability Action Plan in the next session of the Assembly.

8. Any Other Business

The Chairperson reminded Members that the Supply Resolution for the 2007 – 2008 Main Estimates is scheduled for debate on Monday 11 June 2007, and the second stage of the Budget Bill is scheduled for debate on Tuesday 12 June 2007. Members noted the updated briefing note provided by the Department of Education, ‘Education Budget 2007 – 2008’ and the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR). The Chairperson advised that officials from the Department will attend the meeting on 29 June 2007 to brief the Committee on the Education Budget and the CSR.

9. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Friday, 15 June 2007 at 10.30am in Room 135, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.02pm.

Mr Sammy Wilson MP
Chairperson, Committee for Education

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