Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Monday, 16 June 2008
Venue: Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings
The Deputy Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.01am in public session.
Apologies are detailed above.
Mr McCrea joined the meeting at 10.02am.
2. Ministerial Update on Proposals for Transfer to Post Primary Education
The Minister for Education, Caitríona Ruane; Jackie McMullan, Special Adviser; Will Haire, Permanent Secretary; and Paul Price, Head of Open Enrolment and Transfer Procedure Branch, Department of Education, joined the meeting at 10.02am.
Mr Wilson joined the meeting and took the Chair at 10.03am.
Mr McCausland joined the meeting at 10.04am.
The Minister outlined her proposals for Transfer from 2010 highlighting a new test being developed by the Council for the Curriculum Examinations and Assessment, the option for schools to apply for bilateral status and admit pupils by academic selection up to 50% in September 2010, 30% in 2011 and 20% in 2012 – to facilitate transition to all admissions on the basis of non-academic criteria from September 2013. The Minister answered questions on a number of issues, including: whether the proposals are open to change from the views of the Committee and/or Executive colleagues; how the new test fits with the curriculum, whether it becomes permanent, its legislative base and potential challenges; political endorsement of the proposals; the formation of an Executive sub-committee; streaming, banding and placing children in sets; selection by postcode and social justice criteria/quota/balance; closure of some grammar schools; area-based planning and sustainable schools policy.
The Minister and officials left the meeting at 11.14am.
The Chairperson left the meeting at 11.14am.
The Deputy Chairperson took the Chair at 11.14am.
Mr McCrea left the meeting at 11.14am.
Ms O’Neill left the meeting at 11.15am.
Mr Storey left the meeting at 11.16am.
3. Departmental Continuation Briefing on RPA Policy and Legislation
John McGrath, Deputy Secretary; Chris Stewart, Head of RPA; and Jeff Brown, RPA Legislation Team, Department of Education, joined the meeting at 11.16am. The officials gave an overview of the remaining provisions of the draft proposed first RPA Bill not discussed during the briefing at the Committee’s meeting on 9 May 2008. The officials answered questions on a number of issues, including: proposed ESA accountability to the Department of Education; targets and performance indicators; scheme for assessment of ESA; sub-regional ESA accountability; culture and ethos of schools; powers of inspections and protection of children and young people; supplementary provisions including Clause 50 powers to remedy; sustainable schools area-based planning policy, including the lack of action by the 5 area-based planning groups.
Mr Storey rejoined the meeting at 11.26am.
Ms O’Neill rejoined the meeting at 11.29am.
Mr Storey left the meeting at 11.31am.
Mr Storey rejoined the meeting at 11.42am.
Mr McCrea rejoined the meeting at 11.45am.
The Deputy Chairperson thanked the officials for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 11.50am.
4. Minutes of the Meeting of 9 May 2008
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 9 May 2008.
5. Matters Arising
(a) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding W5 Skills and Science programme.
Agreed – the Committee will forward the response to St Joseph’s Boys’ High School, Newry.
(b) The Committee noted the correspondence from the Royal National Institute for the Blind.
Agreed – the Committee will forward the correspondence to the Department for comment on the points raised.
(c) The Committee noted the response from the Southern Education and Library Board regarding time-off for part-time fire-fighters for training purposes.
(d) The Committee noted the response from the Belfast, North Eastern and South Eastern Education and Library Board on the implementation of the NJC national agreement.
Agreed – the Committee will ask the Department to clarify how this process could be shortened to prevent lengthy delays in the implementation of future pay awards.
(e) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding the Buddy Bear Trust.
Agreed – the Committee will forward a copy of the response to the Buddy Bear Trust, and also to the Committee for Health Social Services and Public Safety for consideration.
(f) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding the Western Education and Library Board’s Pre-consultation on the Future of Controlled/Voluntary Post Primary Education in Fermanagh.
(g) The Committee noted the copy response from the Minister of Education regarding the terms of reference for the School Workforce Review.
(h) The Committee noted the response from the Minister of Education regarding Teachers’ Pensions.
(i) The Committee noted the Minister of Education’s response to the Chairperson of the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment regarding its Inquiry into Credit Unions.
(a) The Committee noted the correspondence from Together 4 All Family Support.
Agreed – the Committee will ask the Department for details of similar one-off initiatives in receipt of Departmental funding. The Committee will also seek further information from Together 4 All Family Support on other initiatives in receipt of funding from The Atlantic Philanthropies.
Mr Wilson rejoined the meeting at took the Chair at 11.59am.
(b) The Committee noted the correspondence from The Participation Network regarding its workshops, ‘Including Children and Young People in Public Decision Making.’
(c) The Committee noted the reminder for the Sustainable Development Commission NI’s lecture in Belfast on 29 May 2008.
(d) The Committee noted the correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel regarding the Performance and Efficiency Delivery Unit.
(e) The Committee noted the correspondence regarding Clea Primary School.
Agreed – the Committee will forward the correspondence to the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) for comment. Mr Bradley will forward additional information to the Clerk for inclusion in the Committee’s letter to CCMS.
Mr Bradley left the meeting at 12.01pm.
(f) The Committee noted the copy letter from the WELB to the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Education regarding the governance and accountability of the proposed Education and Skills Authority.
Agreed – the Committee will request a copy of the Permanent Secretary’s response to the WELB.
(g) The Committee noted the correspondence from Advice NI on Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder in Mainstream Education.
(h) The Committee noted the contents of the correspondence from Elklan, Speech and Language Therapy Consultants.
(i) The Committee noted the correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel regarding Departmental Submissions on Monitoring Rounds.
(j) The Committee noted Equality NI’s Newsletter 7.
(k) The Committee noted the letter from Moat Primary School, Lisnaskea, regarding the withdrawal of Extended Schools Funding.
Agreed – the Committee will ask the Department to clarify what consultation was undertaken on the new criteria for Extended Schools funding and specifically the basis for 2008/09 allocations to schools.
(l) The Committee noted four Departmental Press Releases: ‘Ruane Congratulates Coláiste Feirste on New School Building’; ‘Education Minister Attends Opening of New De La Salle School’; ‘Minister Announces Education and Library Board Appointment’; and ‘Ruane Prepared to Restore SEELB.’
Mr Lunn left the meeting at 12.15pm.
7. Draft Committee Response to the Minister of Education on Transfer
Agreed – the Committee will defer discussion on its draft response to the Minister of Education on Transfer, to enable members to discuss the draft response with their respective Parties.
8. Forward Work Programme
The Forward Work Programme was agreed up to and including 6 June 2008 and the Committee’s next Informal Reception will be held on the morning of 26 June 2008 in the Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings.
9. Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting will be held on Friday 23 May 2008 at 10.00am in Room 135, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.20pm.
Mr Dominic Bradley
Deputy Chairperson, Committee for Education