Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Friday, 09 May 2008
Venue: Room 135, Parliament Buildings
The Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.06am in public session.
Apologies are detailed above.
2. Minutes of the Meeting of 2 May 2008
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 2 May 2008.
3. Matters Arising
(a) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding Newstart Education Centre.
Agreed – the Committee will forward the response to Newstart Education Centre.
(b) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding Sustrans and Safer Routes to Schools.
Agreed – the Committee will write to the Committees for Health, Social Services and Public Safety and Culture, Arts and Leisure regarding work that is being taken forward by their Departments regarding such initiatives.
(c) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding area-based planning groups and development proposals.
Agreed – the Committee will write to the Department regarding the time taken to establish the area-based planning groups. The Committee will also express concern that it did not receive the draft terms of reference issued to key stakeholders, and remind the Department of the Committee’s statutory scrutiny and policy development roles.
(d) The Committee noted the draft Committee response paper to the Minister of Education on Transfer Arrangements from 2010.
Agreed – Members will discuss the draft paper with their respective Parties in advance of the next Committee meeting on 16 May 2008, to enable the Committee to agree its response to the Minister.
Mr Robinson joined the meeting at 10.10am.
Mr Robinson left the meeting at 10.13am.
(a) The Committee noted the letter from Queen’s University, Belfast, (QUB) requesting an opportunity to meet with the Committee regarding the Northern Ireland Languages Strategy.
Agreed – the Committee will consider inviting representatives from QUB to give a presentation at a meeting later in this session of the Assembly. The Committee will also request a written briefing from the Department on its language strategy.
(b) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding the Tree of Knowledge.
Agreed – the Committee will forward a copy of the response to Mr B Best.
(c) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding services provided by NESTA and CELT Associates.
Agreed – the Committee will forward a copy of the response to Mr D Stewart.
(d) The Committee noted the correspondence from Mr M Simpson regarding nursery and post-primary school provision in Donaghadee.
Agreed – the Committee will forward the correspondence to the South Eastern Education and Library Board for comment on the issues raised with regard to Donaghadee High School. The Committee will also write to the Department for clarification on a number of points relating to the provision of nursery school places.
(e) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding Wellness NI.
Agreed – the Committee will forward a copy of the response to Wellness NI.
(f) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding the Leonardo Effect project in schools.
Agreed – the Committee will forward a copy of the response to Dr I Hickey.
(g) The Committee noted the Sustainable Development Commission’s E-bulletin, May 2008.
(h) The Committee noted the correspondence on the Joint Consultative Forum (Education Sector) meeting to be held in Belfast on 13 May 2008
(i) The Committee noted the correspondence regarding the Global Congress of Women in Politics and Governance.
(j) The Committee noted the correspondence from Mrs I Robinson MP MLA regarding primary school funding.
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft response.
(k) The Committee noted one Departmental press release, ‘Decision Announced on Proposed Nursery Unit at Waringstown Primary School.’
Mr Lunn joined the meeting at 10.20am.
Mr Robinson rejoined the meeting at 10.20am.
5. Departmental Briefing on the Draft Proposed First RPA Bill
John McGrath, Deputy Secretary; Chris Stewart, Head of RPA; and Jeff Brown, RPA Legislation Team, Department of Education, joined the meeting at 10.30am. The officials gave an overview of some of the provisions of the draft proposed first RPA Bill.
Mr McCausland joined the meeting at 10.36am.
The officials answered questions on a number of issues, including: membership, governance and accountability of the Education and Skills Authority (ESA); the employing authority role of ESA and models of employment schemes for schools; equality of employment opportunities for teachers in all schools sectors; the dissolution of statutory bodies and transfer of staff to ESA; the level of power of ESA to direct schools; the ownership of schools; accountability of Boards of Governors and the ability of ESA to remove Boards of Governors; and the role of Boards of Governors in determining the cultural ethos of schools.
Mr McCrea left the meeting at 11.35am.
Mr Bradley left the meeting at 11.45am.
Mr Bradley rejoined the meeting at 11.54am.
Mr Storey left the meeting at 11.54am.
Mr Storey rejoined the meeting at 11.55am.
Mr Storey left the meeting at 11.59am.
Agreed – the Committee will write to the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister regarding equality concerns with teaching employment law.
Agreed – officials will return to continue the Departmental briefing on legislation at the Committee’s meeting on 16 May 2008.
The Chairperson thanked the officials for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 12.13pm.
Ms O’Neill left the meeting at 12.13pm.
The meeting moved to closed session at 12.13pm.
6. Update Briefing on the Establishment of the ESA
Gavin Boyd, Chief Executive (Designate) ESA; and Robert Shilliday, Communications Project Manager, ESA Implementation Team (ESAIT), joined John McGrath, Deputy Secretary, Department of Education, at 12.13pm. The officials gave a presentation on ESA management structure and Area Support Teams proposals.
Mr McCausland left the meeting at 12.18pm.
The officials answered questions on a number of issues, including: centralised procurement and the ability of an individual school or groups of schools to procure services directly; maximum supported autonomy and the need to define what will be devolved to schools; and curriculum development and school improvement.
Mr McCausland rejoined the meeting at 12.24pm.
Ms O’Neill rejoined the meeting at 12.46pm.
Agreed – officials will return to Committee to continue the update briefing at a later date.
The Chairperson thanked the officials for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 1.01pm.
7. Forward Work Programme
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft Work Programme up to and including 23 May 2008.
8. Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting will be held on Friday 16 May 2008 at 10.00am in Room 135, Parliament Buildings, to be followed by an informal lunchtime meeting with the Westminster All-Party Parliamentary Group on Integrated Education at 12.00noon in the Private Dining Room.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.04pm.
Mr Sammy Wilson
Chairperson, Committee for Education