Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Friday, 14 September 2007
Venue: Room 135, Parliament Buildings
The meeting opened at 10.43am in public session.
Apologies are detailed above.
2. Minutes of the Meeting of 7 September 2007
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 7 September 2007.
3. Matters Arising from the Minutes
(A) The Committee noted the NIPSA press release, ‘Classroom Assistants – Vote for Strike Action’ and the paper on the ‘Classroom Assistants Dispute’ provided by the Assembly’s Research and Library Service. The Committee also noted the copy of the letter to the Department requesting further information on this issue, including what contingency plans have been made by the Department and employers in the event of a strike.
(B) The Committee noted the letter to the Minister of Education requesting details of the Department’s spending priorities in advance of the Ministerial discussions on the draft Budget 2007.
(C) The Committee noted the letter to the Minister of Education regarding the issue of transfer to post-primary education.
(A) The Committee noted the letter from the Principal of Saintfield High School, on behalf of a number of schools, requesting a meeting with the Chairperson.
Agreed – the Committee to invite the representatives of the group to an informal lunchtime session.
(B) The Committee noted the contents of the letter from Mr G Strong.
Agreed – the Committee to forward a copy of the correspondence to CCMS for comment.
(C) The Committee noted the request for a meeting from the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI).
Agreed – the Committee to invite the GTCNI to give a presentation at an informal lunchtime session.
(D) The Committee noted the Department’s response regarding Crossroads Primary School.
(E) The Committee noted the request for a meeting from the Belfast Health Action Zone.
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft response.
(F) The Committee noted the letter from the Rudolf Steiner School in Holywood.
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft response.
(G) The Committee noted the response from the South Eastern Education and Library Board regarding Towerview Primary School.
(H) The Committee noted the invitation from the Committee for Finance and Personnel to a seminar on the Assembly’s Role in the Annual Budget Process.
(I) The Committee noted the letter from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister requesting information regarding RPA savings.
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft letter to the Department.
(J) The Committee noted the Departmental Press Release, ‘Revised Curriculum will Help Young People Achieve Their Potential – Ruane’.
(K) The Committee noted the information leaflets provided by Autism NI (PAPA) at an informal meeting with representatives from PAPA on 13 September 2007.
Rt Hon J Donaldson MP joined the meeting at 10.50am.
Mr McCrea joined the meeting at 10.50am.
5. Departmental Briefing on the Review of Public Administration (RPA)
Dr Eddie Rooney, Deputy Secretary; Mr Chris Stewart, Head of RPA Division; Ms Tina Gamble, RPA; and Mrs Joan Cassells, RPA, Department of Education, joined the meeting at 10.55am. The officials gave a number of presentations on high level policy papers on the RPA in education – including the proposed content and timeframe for bringing forward two Education Reform Bills. The officials answered questions on a number of issues, including concerns regarding: the proposal to implement the reforms through two Bills; improvements in service delivery, implementation costs and savings; maximised supported autonomy for schools, contestability and flexibility in procurement of services; composition of the Board of the Education and Skills Authority (ESA) – particularly the lack of a role for local council representatives and the accountability of the ESA at local levels; strategic planning of the school estate and the Department’s consultation on Sustainable Schools; the ESA as a single employing authority and potential for the movement of teachers across sectors; increased responsibility of school Boards of Governors and concerns about difficulties attracting appropriate number of members with the right skills; and the Schools Library Service and links with the Public Library Service.
The Chairperson thanked the officials for the briefing and they left the meeting at 12.46pm.
Mr McCrea left the meeting at 11.24am.
Ms O’Neill left the meeting at 11.37am.
Rt Hon J Donaldson MP left the meeting at 11.39am.
Rt Hon J Donaldson rejoined the meeting at 11.42am.
Mr Lunn left the meeting at 12.16pm.
Mr McCrea rejoined the meeting at 12.24pm.
Mr McCrea left the meeting at 12.26pm.
Mr McCrea rejoined the meeting at 12.30pm.
6. Any Other Business
Agreed – the Committee will write to the Minister regarding the current difficulties with fumes at Anahorish Primary School in Toomebridge.
7. Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting will be held on Friday 21 September 2007 at 10.30am in Room 135, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.46pm.
Mr Sammy Wilson MP
Chairperson, Committee for Education
21 September 2007