Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Friday, 22 February 2008
Venue: Room 135, Parliament Buildings
The Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.33am in public session.
There was one apology as detailed above.
2. Minutes of the Meeting of 15 February 2008
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 15 February 2008.
3. Matters Arising from the Minutes
The Committee noted the response from the Western Education and Library Board (WELB) regarding the Pre-consultation on the Review of Controlled/Voluntary Post-Primary Education in Fermanagh.
The Committee noted the letter from St Mary’s College, Creggan, thanking the Committee for its visit to the school on 8 February 2008. The Chairperson again thanked the Committee Office staff for organising the visit.
The Committee noted the contents of the letter from the Association of Northern Ireland Education and Library Boards.
The Committee noted the copy of the response from the WELB to Collegiate Grammar, Enniskillen.
The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding Classroom Assistants.
The Committee agreed that its second Informal Reception, held in the Long Gallery on 18 February 2008, had been a success. The Chairperson asked Members to notify the Clerk of any points of action arising from the event.
The Committee noted the Public Account Committee’s Report on Job Evaluation in the Education and Library Boards.
The Committee noted the copy of the letter from the Chairperson of the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) to OFMDFM regarding departmental budget allocations to children and young people.
The Committee noted the letter from the Chairperson of the Committee for OFMDFM to the Minister, inviting officials from the Department of Education to give oral evidence to its Inquiry into Child Poverty.
Agreed – the Committee will forward the correspondence to the Minister.
The Committee noted the correspondence Mr D Dalzell.
The Committee noted the correspondence from the Chairman of the Pomeroy Development Projects.
The Committee noted one Departmental press release, "Ruane Welcomes ‘Lift Off’ for Human Rights Resource".
The Committee noted the Department’s publication, ‘E-Consultation with Pupils – A Pilot Study’.
The Committee noted the Department’s research briefing, ‘An Investigation of Youth Work, as a Process of Informal Learning, in Formal Settings.’
The Committee noted the Belfast Education and Library Board’s ‘Annual Report 05 – 06.’
Members expressed concern regarding delays in receiving responses from the Department. Some Members were also concerned with the adequacy of the responses provided.
Agreed – the Committee will seek information from the Business Office to compare the response times for all Departments.
5. Careers Education, Information, Advice & Guidance Strategy (CEIAG) – Summary of Consultation Responses
Agreed – the Committee will consider the summary of responses to the Consultation on the CEIAG Strategy at a later date.
6. Subordinate Legislation
The Committee considered two proposed Statutory Rules: The Special Educational Needs and Disability (General Qualifications Bodies) (Relevant Qualifications, Reasonable Steps and Physical Features) Regulations (NI) 2008; and The Special Educational Needs and Disability (2005 Order) (Amendment) (General Qualifications Bodies) (Alteration of Premises and Enforcement) Regulations (NI) 2008.
Agreed – the Committee will invite officials to its meeting on 29 February 2008 to clarify a number of points regarding the proposed Rules.
Mr Lunn left the meeting at 10.40am.
Mr Lunn rejoined the meeting at 10.45am.
Mr Lunn left the meeting at 10.48am.
Mr Lunn rejoined the meeting at 10.50am.
7. Departmental Briefing on RPA Education Reform
Dr Eddie Rooney, Deputy Secretary; Chris Stewart, Head of RPA, Department of Education; Gavin Boyd, Chief Executive (Designate); and Jacqui McLaughlin, Implementation Team, Education and Skills Authority (ESA), joined the meeting at 10.53am. Dr Rooney gave a presentation on high-level policy issues which had previously been of concern to the Committee. Mr Boyd gave an update on progress with operational issues regarding the ESA.
Mr Robinson joined the meeting at 11.11am.
The officials answered questions on a number of issues, including: Committee Members’ reservations regarding the principles of RPA education reform and the establishment of the ESA; representation for the controlled sector and ownership of the controlled schools estate; the role of public representatives on the ESA’s Board; the need for a statutory area-based planning framework; potential savings from the establishment of the ESA; the ESA as a single employing authority; the level of autonomy for schools and support for school Principals and Boards of Governors; disparity of funding between primary and post-primary schools; school improvement and the impact of social deprivation; and legislative issues.
Rt Hon J Donaldson joined the meeting at 11.35am.
Mr Storey left the meeting at 11.50am.
Mr Storey rejoined the meeting at 11.52am.
Rt Hon J Donaldson left the meeting at 12.02pm.
Rt Hon J Donaldson rejoined the meeting at 12.03pm.
Mr Storey left the meeting at 12.16pm.
Rt Hon J Donaldson left the meeting at 12.16pm.
Rt Hon J Donaldson rejoined the meeting at 12.19pm.
Mrs Bradley left the meeting at 12.24pm.
Mr Storey rejoined the meeting at 12.40pm.
Rt Hon J Donaldson left the meeting at 12.40pm.
Rt Hon J Donaldson rejoined the meeting at 12.45pm.
Agreed – the Committee will request information regarding the use of Article 101 from the Department.
8. Forward Work Programme
The Chairperson reminded Members that they should discuss the Department’s policy proposals, ‘Every School a Good School’, with their party colleagues in advance of the next Committee meeting on 29 February 2008, to enable the Committee to agree an interim response to the consultation.
Agreed – the Committee approved its draft Work Programme up to and including 14 March 2008.
9. Any Other Business
Mr Bradley raised concerns with regard to confidential historical data relating to pupils that had been lost recently by the Southern Education and Library Board (SELB).
Agreed – the Committee will seek clarification from the Department on the regulations/policies regarding data removal (and return), retention and disposal for the SELB.
The meeting moved to closed session at 12.50pm.
The Committee considered correspondence regarding services to Education and Library Boards.
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft letters to the North Eastern Education and Library Board and the South Eastern Education and Library Boards.
10. Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting will be held on Friday 29 February 2008 at 10.30am in Room 135, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.54pm.
Mr Sammy Wilson
Chairperson, Committee for Education
29 February 2008