Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Friday, 11 April 2008
Venue: Room 135, Parliament Buildings
The Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.35am in closed session.
Apologies are detailed above.
2. Minutes of the Meeting of 4 April 2008
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 4 April 2008.
3. Matters Arising
(a)Agreed – the Committee will write to the Department regarding child protection protocols between the PSNI, the Department, Education and Library Boards (ELBs) and schools, asking for an urgent response.
The meeting moved into public session at 10.39am.
(b) The Committee noted the letter from the North Eastern Education and Library Board (NEELB) regarding the equality screening of the policy relating to the future of Maghera High School.
(c)The Committee noted the response from the Southern Education and Library Board (SELB) regarding the impact of the recruitment ‘freeze’ and the consequences of any delay in the establishment of the Education and Skills Authority (ESA) on service delivery.
(d)The Committee noted the responses from the SELB and the Belfast Education and Library Board regarding the Buddy Bear Trust.
(e)The Committee noted the correspondence regarding Bumblebees Nursery, Ballymoney.
(f)The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding pay awards for non-teaching staff.
Agreed – the Committee will forward a copy of the correspondence to the Committee for Finance and Personnel. The Committee will also ask the NEELB to clarify the length of time taken to submit business cases to the Department.
(g)The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding access to textbooks by blind and partially-sighted children.
Agreed – the Committee will forward a copy of the response to the Royal National Institute for the Blind.
(h)The Committee noted the response from the SELB regarding the implementation of the classroom assistants’ job evaluation.
Agreed – the Committee will write to the Department regarding concerns it considers should be addressed by the Ministerial School Workforce Review.
(i)The Committee noted the response from the Committee of the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister regarding Lisanelly Barracks.
(a)The Committee noted the correspondence regarding the Third Global Congress of Women in Politics and Governance to be held in the Philippines in October 2008.
(b)The Committee noted the copy letter from the Education Minister to Mrs Hamilton, Honorary Secretary of Portstewart Vision.
(c)The Committee noted the Education Minister’s response to the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development’s Inquiry into Renewable Energy/Alternative Land Use.
(d)The Committee noted the Education Minister’s response to the Committee for Enterprise Trade and Investment regarding the Third Action Plan of the Regional Innovation Strategy 2008 - 2011.
(e)The Committee noted the letter from the Education Minister to the Committee for Employment and Learning regarding the Legislative Consent Motion on the Education and Skills Bill.
(f)The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding the NI Regional Area Network (NIRAN).
(g)The Committee noted the advance notice of the Joint Consultative Forum meeting to be held in Belfast on 13 May 2008.
(h)The Committee noted the invitation from the Department to the Reception for Modern Language Assistants, to be held in the Long Gallery on 22 May 2008.
(i)The Committee noted the correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel regarding Departmental Submissions to Statutory Committees on Quarterly Expenditure Monitoring Rounds.
Agreed – the Committee agreed to issue a response regarding the importance of the Committee’s early sight of proposed bids and surrenders before submission to the Department of Finance and Personnel.
(j)The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding the Youth Justice Agency.
(k)The Committee noted the letters from Mr G Ball and Mr I Adair about the proposed removal of the statutory role of the Transferors Representatives regarding appointments to school Boards of Governors.
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft responses.
(l)The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding the Rudolf Steiner School, Holywood.
(m)The Committee noted the letter from St Joseph’s Boys’ High School regarding the provision of a Skills and Science programme by W5 in collaboration with 189 schools.
Agreed – the Committee will forward the correspondence to the Department for comment and clarify its role with the programme.
(n)The Committee noted three Departmental press releases: ‘Ruane Welcomes European Teachers to Stormont’; Travellers Educational Needs Must Be Met – Ruane’; and ‘Lisanelly Offers Vision of the Future for Education’.
(o)Agreed – the Committee will request information regarding the entitlement of ELB employees, who are also part-time emergency service personnel, to time off for essential training.
5. Presentation by the Association of School and College Leaders
John Stevenson, Principal, Sullivan Upper School, Holywood; Eileen Lusk, Principal, Cambridge House School, Ballymena; and Alan Dalton, Principal, Strangford Integrated College, Carrowdore, representing the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), joined the meeting at 10.56am. The witnesses gave a presentation outlining the ASCL’s current views on RPA in education and the establishment of the Education and Skills Authority (ESA). The witnesses then answered questions on a number of issues, including: the potential size of the ESA; the procurement of centralised services and the impact on service delivery at local level; the role within ESA of the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment; ESA as a Single Employing Authority; the increase in responsibility and accountability of school Boards of Governors; and the current ‘recruitment freeze’ by ELBs and the impact that any further delay in the establishment of the ESA might have on the delivery of services by the ELBs.
The witnesses agreed to write to the Committee to outline the level of consultation between the Department and education practitioners on RPA policy proposals to date, together with details of the level and nature of future consultation that the ASCL would consider to be appropriate.
The witnesses then outlined briefly the ASCL’s views on the Minister’s transfer proposals, and answered questions on transfer at age 14 and area-based planning.
The Chairperson thanked the officials for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 12.04pm.
6. Forward Work Programme
The Committee agreed its work programme up to and including 25 April 2008.
The meeting was suspended at 12.07pm.
The meeting resumed at 12.21pm in the Private Dining Room in closed session, with Mr Wilson, Mr Bradley, Mr Butler, Mr McCausland, Miss McIlveen and Mr Storey present.
7. Transfer to Post-Primary Education
Members discussed a number of issues with regard to the position on transfer to post-primary education from 2010 onwards.
Mr Robinson rejoined the meeting at 12.25pm.
Ms O’Neill rejoined the meeting at 12.40pm.
Ms O’Neill left the meeting at 1.21pm.
The meeting was suspended at 1.21pm.
The meeting resumed at 1.34pm.
Agreed - the Committee will invite the Minister of Education to a discussion on transfer to post primary education in closed session on 2 May 2008 – this would include the Minister updating the Committee on her progress to date and her consultations with key stakeholders.
8. Any Other Business
The Committee noted the Declaration of Interests for Mr McCausland (required as a new member of Committee).
9. Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting will be held on Friday 18 April 2008 at 10.30am in Room 135, Parliament Buildings
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1 .39pm.
Mr Sammy Wilson
Chairperson, Committee for Education
18 April 2008