Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Friday, 29 June 2007

Venue: Room 135, Parliament Buildings

The meeting opened at 10.31am in public session.

  1. 1.    Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

  1. 2.    Minutes of the Meeting of 22 June 2007

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 22 June 2007.

  1. 3.    Matters Arising from the Minutes

(a) The Committee noted the contents of the letter from the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment regarding further information on CCEA’s input to the development of the revised curriculum and clarification on the timescales involved in adapting the current 11-plus test for use beyond 2008 to reflect the phased introduction of the revised curriculum from 2007 onwards.

(b) The Committee noted certain papers requested from the Burns and Costello inquiry processes, provided by the Department of Education.

Mr Butler joined the meeting at 10.33am.

  1. 4.    Correspondence

(a) The Committee noted the invitation from Autism NI (PAPA) for a member to represent the Committee for Education on an autism delegation to Washington in September 2007. The Chairperson informed the Committee of the anticipated travel costs.

Agreed – the Deputy Chairperson should attend as a representative of the Committee for Education.

The Committee also noted the invitation to join Autism NI’s informal presentation to the Assembly’s Health Committee on Thursday 13 September 2007 in Parliament Buildings. The Chairperson asked that Members wishing to attend notify the Clerk.

(b) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding Sydenham Primary School.

(c) The Committee noted the letter from NIPSA regarding the issue of job evaluations for Classroom Assistants.

Agreed – The Committee to forward the letter to the Education and Library Board with lead responsibility for this issue and ask for comment on specific points.

(d) The Committee noted the extract from the ‘Shared Space’ research journal published by the NI Community Relations Council.

(e) The Committee note the extract from ‘Foundations for the Future – the Review of Environmental Governance, Final Report May 2007’.

(f) The Committee noted the correspondence regarding Maghaberry Primary School and the invitation for representatives from the school to attend its Informal Reception in the Long Gallery on 2 July.

(g) The Committee noted the correspondence regarding international standards of treatment for autism.

Agreed – The Committee approved the draft response.

Agreed – The Committee to forward a copy of the correspondence to the Department for comment.

(h) The Committee noted the letters from the following schools regarding primary school funding:

  1. Castlewellan Primary School
  2. Anahilt Primary School
  3. Victoria Primary School
  4. St Colmcille’s Primary School

The Committee also noted the invitations for representatives from each school to attend its Informal Reception in the Long Gallery on 2 July.

(i) The Committee noted the letter from St Patrick’s Primary School, Legamaddy, regarding primary school funding.

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft response.

(j) The Committee noted the contents of the letter from the Northern Ireland Childminding Association.

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft response.

(k) The Committee noted the letter from Hollybank Primary School regarding primary school funding.

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft response.

(l) The Committee noted the letter from Donaghadee High School Parents Action Group.

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft response.

(m) The Committee noted the letter from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister regarding the emerging priorities for the Executive’s Programme for Government 2008 – 11.

(n) The Committee noted the correspondence regarding the visit of a delegation from Nanjing University, China.

Agreed – the Committee agreed its representation at the event in Parliament Buildings on 15 August 2007.

(o) The Committee noted the letter from Strabane Grammar School regarding the delay in making the decision on the Development Proposal for Strabane Grammar School and Strabane High School.

Agreed – The Committee to forward a copy of the correspondence to the Department for urgent comment on the reason for the delay and anticipated timescale for a decision to be made.

(p) The Committee noted the contents of the letter from Lifestart Foundation Limited – educating parents, developing children.

Mr McCrea joined the meeting at 10.44am.

  1. 5.    Subordinate Legislation

Mr David Woods and Ms Lisa Boal from the Department of Education joined the meeting at 10.45am to discuss SR 2007/309, The Education (Core Syllabus for Religious Education) Order (Northern Ireland) 2007. The Committee expressed deep concern that, for the second time during this session of the Assembly, the proposal to make the Rule had not been received in advance of the Rule being laid and made, and therefore did not allow Committee time for meaningful policy scrutiny on this important issue. The officials apologised that an administrative error had led to this being the case. The officials then answered questions regarding the origins and content of the Rule and the legislative background.

The Chairperson thanked the officials for their attendance and they left the meeting at 11.01am.

Question put and agreed:

That the Committee for Education has considered the Education (Core Syllabus for Religious Education) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2007 and subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules’ report has no objection to the Rule.

  1. 6.    Presentation by the Chief Executive (Designate) of the Education and Skills Authority (ESA)

Mr Gavin Boyd, Chief Executive (Designate); and Dr Mark Browne and Miss Jacqui McLaughlin, Implementation Team, ESA, joined the meeting at 11.05am. The officials gave a presentation on the Review of Public Administration (RPA), with regard to progress made to establish the ESA and some key issues for the ESA. The officials answered questions on a number of issues including: estimated savings and if this will result in increased funding for schools and front-line services; timescales for, organisational structure of the ESA and job losses; area-based planning for schools, delivery of services at sub-regional level; maximised autonomy for schools, increased workloads for school principals and the level of support required, particularly for small schools; equality of provision of education for children with special educational needs; and the role of school sector organisations and representation for the controlled sector in ESA.

The officials agreed to provide the Committee with all future consultation documents as early as possible and to write with details of the cost of consultation undertaken to date.

The Chairperson thanked the officials for the informative briefing and they left the meeting at 11.49am.

Agreed – the Committee will invite the officials to give further evidence after summer recess.

  1. 7.    Departmental Budget Briefing

Dr Eddie Rooney, Deputy Secretary; Ms Catherine Daly, Head of Finance Division; and Mr Brian Morrow, Finance Planning Branch, Department of Education, joined the meeting at 11.51am. The officials gave a presentation on the provisional outturn position for 2006 – 07 and reported underspends, and the education budget for the current year 2007 – 08. The officials answered questions on a number of issues including: the reasons for the net £70.7 million current expenditure underspend for 2006 – 07; delays in spending on capital investment and the impact of new Departmental procurement procedures; additional costs and in-year pressures associated with the establishment of the ESA; and the Children and Young People funding package.

Officials agreed to provide the Committee with further information on a number of issues including: the total deficits and surpluses resulting in the net current expenditure underspend for 2006 – 07; unforeseen reasons for delays in capital investment spend and the actions taken by the Department; details of the new procurement framework; and details of the Department’s expenditure on consultancy fees, particularly RPA implementation.

Agreed – that officials will brief the Committee on the impact of the Comprehensive Spending Review for education expenditure at a future meeting.

The Chairperson thanked the officials for the informative briefing and they left the meeting at 12.24pm.

Mr Bradley left the meeting at 12.22pm.

Mr Butler left the meeting at 12.24pm

Mr Bradley rejoined the meeting at 12.25pm.

  1. 8.    Departmental Briefing on the way forward

Mr Will Haire, Permanent Secretary; and Dr Eddie Rooney and Dr Robson Davison, Deputy Secretaries, Department of Education, joined the meeting at 12.25pm. The officials gave brief presentation updates on the RPA, the transfer procedure and the Bain review. The officials answered questions on a number of issues including: a staged approach to RPA implementation and associated legislation, absence of certain policy decisions and lack of clarity on other issues; set-up costs and savings uncertainties and 2006 – 07 budgetary pressures associated with RPA; the unregulated options available for transfer to post-primary education and the Department’s role and powers in this scenario; and the urgent need for area-based planning and sustainable schools policies.

The officials agreed to provide the Committee with the results of the Department’s consultation on a policy for sustainable schools. The officials also agreed to write to the Committee on how the Department considers recent population statistics on the number of live births and associated demographic trends relate to the Bain proposals and the schools estate rationalisation.

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for the informative briefing and they left the meeting at 12.56pm.

  1. 9.    Any Other Business

The Chairperson reminded Members that the Informal Reception will be held in the Long Gallery from 4.00pm to 6.00pm on Monday 2 July.

Agreed – the Committee approved the associated draft press release.

10. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Friday, 7 September 2007 at 10.30am in Room 135, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.58pm .

Mr Sammy Wilson MP
Chairperson, Committee for Education
September 2007

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