Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Friday, 02 May 2008
Venue: Room 135, Parliament Buildings
The Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.35am in public session.
There were no apologies.
2. Minutes of the Meeting of 25 April 2008
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 25 April 2008.
3. Matters Arising
(a) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding sex offenders teaching in Northern Ireland.
(b) The Committee noted the correspondence from the South Eastern Education and Library Board (SEELB) and the Education and Training Inspectorate regarding the SPEAC project at Tor Bank School.
Agreed – the Committee will ask the SEELB to inform the Committee of any decisions taken in relation to the SEPAC project at the 30 April 2008 meeting and the forthcoming SEELB Commissioner’s meeting in May.
(c) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding the Ministerial School Workforce Review.
(d) The Committee noted the response from the Belfast Education and Library Board regarding the Equality Impact Assessment on the Registration and Grant Aid Schemes for Local Voluntary Youth Groups.
(e) The Committee noted the Clerk’s note regarding the Committee for Education motion, ‘Education and the Economy’, scheduled for debate in the Assembly on Monday 12 May 2008.
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft letter from the Chairperson for issue to all MLAs together with the ‘Committee Information Brief’ on the motion, which will be published on the Committee’s website.
(f) The Committee noted the email from the Department confirming that letters were issued on 30 April 2008 notifying the Education and Library Boards of funding allocations in respect of Youth Service Community Relations Support Scheme and Schools’ Community Relations Programme.
(g) The Committee noted the response from Minister regarding St Comgall’s College, Larne.
Agreed – the Committee will forward a copy of the response to Mr A O’Shea, Secretary of St Comgall’s College Support Group.
(h) The Committee noted the correspondence from the Department regarding Children and Young People’s funding.
Mr Storey joined the meeting at 10.43am.
(a) The Committee noted the correspondence from Sustrans.
Agreed – the Committee will ask the Department to clarify the position regarding facilities such as bike sheds that are allowed for in specific Sustrans’ initiatives/schemes and in the School Buildings’ Handbook.
(b) The Committee noted the response from the SEELB regarding Beechlawn Reading Unit.
Agreed – the Committee will forward a copy of the response to Ms L Allen.
(c) The Committee noted the copy response from the Department to Mrs E Courtney.
(d) The Committee noted the correspondence from the Alternative Education Providers’ Forum requesting a meeting with members of the Committee.
Agreed – the Committee will ask the Department to provide a list of formal and voluntary alternative education providers in Northern Ireland.
(e) The Committee noted the correspondence regarding the Buddy Bear Trust.
(f) The Committee noted the 2006/2007 Report of the Director of Public Health.
(g) The Committee noted the letter from Ms Y Naylor.
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft response.
(h) The Committee noted the Department of Finance and Personnel Memorandum on the Seventh Report from the Public Accounts Committee Session 2007 – 2008: Job Evaluation in the Education and Library Boards.
Agreed – the Committee will consider this matter further at a later date.
(i) The Committee noted the correspondence regarding a new school build for Towerview Primary School.
Agreed – the Committee will invite representatives from Towerview Primary School to give a presentation at its meeting on 16 May 2008, to be followed by a presentation by the Department and/or SEELB representatives on this matter.
(j) The Committee noted correspondence from Mr A McCrea MBE, Executive Director of Action Renewables.
(k) The Committee noted the correspondence regarding Equality 2000’s DVD launch, ‘The Rights & Wrongs’ on the Bill of Rights, on 9 May 2008 in Dungannon.
(l) The Committee noted the correspondence from the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment regarding its Inquiry into Credit Unions.
Agreed – the Committee will forward the correspondence to the Minister of Education.
(m) The Committee noted two Departmental press releases: ‘Stormont Plays Host to Community Relations Week’; and ‘The Compendium of Northern Ireland Education National Statistics 1994/95 to 2006/07.’
5. Presentation by the Greater Shankill Principals’ Group
Betty Orr, Principal, Edenbrooke Primary School; Terry Leathem, Principal, Glenwood Primary School; and Johnny Graham, Principal, Belfast Model School for Girls, joined the meeting at 11.05am. The witnesses gave a presentation on the implications of the withdrawal of Interface Funding (and other related funding) and answered questions on a number of issues, including: the need to reduce the pupil-teacher ratio; allocation of funding for schools which would channel money to those most in need; the disproportionate level of time and work involved in applying for funding from various short-term initiatives; recognition of problems that exist in areas such as the Shankill and the need for a long-term strategy to deal with areas of deprivation; the increase in the number of pupils with Special Educational Needs; and the witnesses view of the draft policy, ‘Every School a Good School.’
The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an interesting and informative briefing and they left the meeting at 11.53am.
6. Presentation by the North Belfast Principals’ Group
Anne Thompson, Principal, Currie Primary School; Claire Hillman, Principal, Ligoniel Primary School; and David Patterson, Principal, Lowwood Primary School, joined the meeting at 11.54am.
Mr McCrea left the meeting at 11.54am.
Mr McCrea rejoined the meeting at 11.55am
The witnesses gave a presentation on Interface Funding and related funding issues and answered questions on a number of issues, including: short-term initiatives and the need for a long-term, multi-disciplinary strategy; the length of time spent in accessing funding; instability caused by on-going tensions within the North Belfast area; cross-community links with maintained schools; and concerns regarding the draft policy, ‘Every School a Good School’.
Mr McCrea left the meeting at 12.10pm.
Mr Bradley left the meeting at 12.11pm.
Mr Bradley rejoined the meeting at 12.17pm.
Mr Butler left the meeting at 12.28pm.
The Chairperson left the meeting at 12.33pm.
The Deputy Chairperson took the chair at 12.33pm.
The Deputy Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 12.35pm.
Mr McCausland left the meeting at 12.35pm.
Mr Lunn left the meeting at 12.35pm.
7. Presentation by the Governing Bodies Association (GBA)
Dr Evelyn Dermott, Chairperson; Dr Wilfred Mulryne, Honorary Secretary; Rev Father Paddy Delargy; and Finbar McCallion, GBA, joined the meeting at 12.36pm. The witnesses outlined the GBA’s concerns with the proposed establishment of the Education and Skills Authority (ESA) and answered questions on a number of issues, including: the Voluntary Grammar Schools’ principle of subsidiarity; the size and apparent level of control of ESA; autonomy and accountability for schools; ESA as a single employing authority; the voluntary principle; the Entitlement Framework and the opportunity for cooperation between schools; and the level of engagement between the GBA and the Minister of Education, Departmental officials and ESA officials.
Mr McCausland rejoined the meeting at 12.49pm.
Mr Butler left the meeting at 12.53pm.
Mr Butler rejoined the meeting at 12.56pm.
Mr Butler left the meeting at 1.04pm.
Mr Storey left the meeting at 1.06pm.
Mr Storey rejoined the meeting at 1.09pm.
Mr Storey left the meeting at 1.10pm.
The Deputy Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 1.28pm.
8. Forward Work Programme
Agreed – the Committee asked the Clerk to prepare a briefing paper on the draft first RPA Education Bill for the meeting with Departmental officials on 9 May 2008.
Agreed – the Committee will consider a visit to North Belfast schools, in advance of the summer recess if possible. The Committee will use the opportunity to have a presentation from representatives of maintained schools in the area, in relation to issues discussed with the Principals’ Groups during today’s meeting.
Agreed – the Committee will write formally to invite the Minister of Education to a meeting of the Committee to discuss and provide an update on Transfer to post-primary education.
9. Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting will be held on Friday 9 May 2008 at 10.00am in Room 135, Parliament Buildings.
The Deputy Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.39pm.
Mr Sammy Wilson
Chairperson, Committee for Education