Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Friday, 06 June 2008
Venue: Room 135, Parliament Buildings
The Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.04am in public session.
Apologies are detailed above.
2. Minutes of the Meeting of 30 May 2008
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 30 May 2008.
3. Matters Arising
(a) The Committee noted the response from the South Eastern Education & Library Board (SEELB) regarding the provision of relationships and sexuality education.
(b) The Committee noted the response from the SEELB regarding the Special Provision for the Education of Autistic Children (SPEAC) project at Tor Bank School.
Agreed – the Committee will forward a copy of the response to SPEAC.
(C)The Committee noted the letter from the Minister of Education regarding her attendance at the Committee’s meeting of 16 May 2008.
(d) The Committee noted the email from the Principal of Towerview Primary School, together with a number of items of correspondence in support of Towerview Primary School from concerned parents and individuals.
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft responses.
(e) The Committee noted the response from the Western Education and Library Board (WELB) regarding Alternative Education Provision.
(f)The Committee noted the letter from the Department regarding the timing of the submission of June monitoring proposals to the Committee for Education.
(g) The Committee noted the letter from the Department regarding the overall budget spend on Special Educational Needs provision.
(a)The Committee noted the pamphlet ‘Changing Assessment Practice: Process, Principles and Standards’ from the School of Education, Queen’s University Belfast.
(b) The Committee noted the letter from Ms G Spiers regarding the provision of services for Early Years.
Agreed – the Committee will write to both Early Years and the Department of Education for regarding the cessation of services.
(c)The Committee noted the correspondence from the Third Global Congress for Women in Politics and Governance.
(d)The Committee noted the correspondence from the Federation of Passenger Transport regarding the WELB’s application for a commercial Road Service Operator Licence.
Agreed – the Committee will forward the correspondence to the WELB for comment on the issues raised.
(e)The Committee noted the copy correspondence from Mrs G Edge to the Minister of Education regarding extended schools funding for Carrick Primary School, Lurgan.
Agreed – the Committee will request a copy of the response issued to Mrs Edge by the Department or the Minister.
(f) The Committee noted the correspondence from Mr & Mrs Tomlinson regarding their daughter’s transfer to post-primary education.
Agreed – the Committee agreed to advise Mr & Mrs Tomlinson to contact the North Eastern Education and Library Board or their local public representatives directly.
(g)The Committee noted the correspondence from St Patrick’s Primary School, Armagh, regarding a Development Proposal for the Christian Brother’s Primary School, Armagh.
Agreed – the Committee will forward the correspondence to the Southern Education and Library Board and Council for Catholic Maintained Schools for comment on the issues raised.
(h)The Committee noted correspondence the correspondence from NIPSA regarding concerns for staff transferring to the proposed Education and Skills Authority.
Agreed – the Committee approved a draft response.
(i)The Committee noted correspondence from the Buddy Bear Trust to the Committees for Education and Health, Social Services and Public Safety.
(j) The Committee noted four Departmental Press Releases: ‘Education Minister Visits Basque Country’; ‘Minister Announces Review of Community Relations’; ‘Expenditure on Department of Education Services over £1.8bn in 2007-08 Says Ruane’; ‘ Education Minister Announces Nine New Specialist Schools’.
Agreed – the Committee will write to the Department to request that an Ulster Scots representative is included in the Working Group for the Review of Community Relations Policy.
5. Presentation by the Northern Ireland Primary Principals’ Action Group (NIPPAG)
David McCartney, Principal, Brooklands Primary School, Dundonald; Harry Greer, Principal, Harmony Hill Primary School, Lisburn; Martin Shortt, Principal, Holy Family Primary School, Belfast; and Brian Jess, Principal, Carrick Primary School, Lurgan, joined the meeting at 10.17am. The witnesses gave a presentation outlining the six Resolutions passed at the NIPPAG conference in April.
The Chairperson left the meeting at 10.30am.
The Deputy Chairperson took the Chair at 10.30am.
Mr Robinson joined the meeting at 10.35am.
The witnesses answered questions on a number of issues, including: the age-weighted pupil unit and the funding differential between pupils at nursery, primary and post-primary schools; the need to reduce funding via short-term initiatives and increase the level of core funding; how the level of primary school funding in Northern Ireland compares with England and Scotland; the impact of under-funding on the health and wellbeing of school staff; representations made by the Committee to the Minister and Department of Education on this issue; and the need for urgent interim measures to increase funding and to monitor and review primary education.
The Chairperson rejoined the meeting and took the Chair at 11.06am.
The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 11.19am.
Mr McCausland left the meeting at 11.18am.
Mr McCrea left the meeting at 11.19am.
Ms O’Neill left the meeting at 11.19am.
6. Presentation by the North Belfast Principals’ Group (maintained schools)
Terry Laverty, Principal, Holy Cross Boys’ Primary School; Cecelia McCloskey, Principal, St Gemma’s High School; Margaret Moffett, Principal, Mercy Primary School; and Patricia Gordon, Principal, Our Lady’s Primary School, joined the meeting at 11.20am. The witnesses gave a presentation on funding issues and their current educational priorities.
Mr McCrea rejoined the meeting at 11.23am.
Ms O’Neill rejoined the meeting at 11.24am.
The witnesses answered questions on a number of issues, including: the need to increase the level of core funding to schools; difficulties caused by the removal of funding for initiatives such as reading recovery, extended schools and limited special needs funding; exclusions from the Integrated Development Fund; allocation of funding for schools based on need; and the need for an overall, multi-disciplinary strategic plan for North Belfast.
Mr McCrea left the meeting at 11.46am.
Mr McCrea rejoined the meeting at 11.59am.
The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 12.04pm.
Mr McCrea left the meeting at 12.04pm.
7. Departmental Briefing on Primary School Funding
John McGrath, Deputy Secretary; Louise Warde Hunter and Roisin Lilley, School Finance Branch; and Paul Duffy, Finance Division, Department of Education, joined the meeting at 12.06pm.
Mr O’Dowd left the meeting at 12.06pm.
Mr O’Dowd rejoined the meeting at 12.08pm.
Mr McCausland rejoined the meeting at 12.12pm.
The officials gave a presentation on funding for primary schools and answered questions on a number of issues, including: comparison with the levels of funding delegated to schools in other parts of the UK; the need to reduce the number of initiatives and channel money into core school funding; the importance of investing in early years education; the review of funding and interim short-term changes that could be considered; and a longer term review of the Common Funding Formula (CFF).
The officials agreed to provide the Committee, in advance of the summer recess, with information on the number of current funding initiatives for primary schools, the scope to channel some of these in the short-term into core school funding and some ideas on adjusting LMS funding to benefit primary schools. The Committee will also seek a paper on the review of the CFF.
Mr McCrea rejoined the meeting at 12.21pm.
Mr Bradley left the meeting at 12.37pm.
Mr Bradley rejoined the meeting at 12.45pm.
Mr Robinson left the meeting at 12.54pm.
The Chairperson thanked the officials and they left the meeting at 12.55pm.
Mr McCrea left the meeting at 12.55pm.
8. Departmental Briefing on June In-year Monitoring Proposals
John McGrath, Deputy Secretary; and Paul Duffy, Finance Division, joined the meeting at 12.56pm. The officials gave a presentation on the main elements of the Department’s June in-year monitoring proposals and answered questions on a number of issues, including: the need to brief the Committee on in-year expenditure proposals in advance of submission to DFP; the bid for extended schools funding; the need to bid for additional resources to cover increasing fuel and food costs; funding responsibility for PlayBoard; and clarification of the Department’s position in relation to the Children and Young People’s funding package, including the surrender of £3.8m in the February 2008 monitoring round.
Mr McCrea rejoined the meeting at 1.08pm.
The Chairperson thanked the officials and they left the meeting at 1.26pm.
9. Committee Motion
Agreed – the Committee agreed to table a motion on primary school funding for debate in the Assembly before summer recess. The Committee approved the draft motion with amendments.
10. Forward Work Programme
Agreed – the draft Work Programme up to and including 4 July 2008 was approved.
11. Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting will be held on Friday 13 June 2008 at 10.00am in Room 135, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.39pm.
Mr S Wilson
Chairperson, Committee for Education
13 June 2008