Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Friday, 30 November 2007
Venue: Room 135, Parliament Buildings
The Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.34am in closed session.
There were no apologies.
2. Minutes of the Meeting of 23 November 2007
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meetings of 23 November 2007.
3. Matters Arising from the Minutes
(a) The Committee noted the contents of the Department’s response to the Committee regarding correspondence from Mrs L Saunders.
Agreed – the Committee will write to the Department to request further information on the implementation of the Revised Curriculum, Reading Recovery, the Entitlement Framework and the use of INCAS.
(b) The Committee noted the letter and additional information from Mr B Nolan, Managing Director, Children’s Independent Therapy, regarding literacy interventions.
Agreed – the Committee will consider inviting Mr Nolan to give an informal presentation to the Committee at a later date.
Mr Lunn joined the meeting at 10.36am.
(a) The Committee noted the correspondence from Dr Hagan, Director, Alta Systems (NI) Ltd.
Agreed – the Committee will consider inviting Dr Hagan to give an informal presentation to the Committee at a later date.
(b) The Committee noted the Western Education and Library Board’s (WELB) pre-consultation document, ‘Controlled/Voluntary Post-Primary Education in Co Fermanagh’.
Agreed – the Committee will invite representatives from WELB to brief the Committee on the document at its meeting of 14 December 2007.
(c) The Committee noted the invitation from the National Children’s Bureau to a seminar ‘Asylum Seeking, Refugee & Migrant Children: Understanding and meeting their needs’ on Wednesday 9 January 2008.
Agreed – the Committee will include the subject of inclusion and diversity in its work programme for the New Year.
(d) The Committee noted the invitation from the Ulster Teachers’ Union’s Annual Conference on Friday 14 March 2008.
Agreed – Members who propose to attend the event will notify the Clerk.
(e) The Committee noted the Paper No 25 by Education Reform 21.
(f) The Committee noted the contents of the correspondence from Mr D Stewart of CELT Associates.
Agreed – the Committee will consider inviting Mr Stewart to give an informal presentation to the Committee at a later date.
(g) The Committee noted letter to the Minister of Education from the Chairperson of the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public regarding Middletown Centre for Autism.
(h) The Committee the response from the Department regarding Wellness NI.
Agreed – the Committee will consider inviting Wellness NI to give an informal presentation to the Committee at a later date.
(i) The Committee noted three Departmental Press Releases: “Education Minister Welcomes Unison Ballot Result”; “Ruane Highlights Importance of Non-Formal Education”; and “Collone Primary School to Close”.
Agreed – the Committee will issue a press release welcoming the collective agreement by some Trade Unions on the proposals for classroom assistants contained in the Employers’ offer of 28 September 2007 and the hope that schools return to normality.
5. Subordinate Legislation
The Committee noted the following proposed statutory rule: The Teachers’ Pensions (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2007. The Committee also noted that the Department is currently undertaking a short consultation on this proposed Rule.
Agreed – the Committee will consider the proposed Rule at its meeting of 11 January 2008, following completion of the consultation and receipt of any responses.
6. Consideration of Committee Response to the Draft Draft Programme for Government (PfG) 2008 – 11 and the Draft Investment Strategy 2008 – 18; and final approval of the Committee’s Response on the Draft Budget 2008 – 11.
The Committee considered its draft response to the Committee of the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) on the Draft PfG and Draft Investment Strategy.
Agreed – the Committee agreed that the response should be amended to reflect concerns regarding one of the key educational goals in the PfG.
The Committee considered the revised draft of the response to the Committee for Finance and Personnel on the Draft Budget.
Agreed – the Committee agreed the revised response, with one amendment.
Mr Storey left the meeting at 11.16am.
Mr Bradley left the meeting at 11.20am.
Mr Storey rejoined the meeting at 11.20am.
Mr Butler left the meeting at 11.22am.
Rt Hon J Donaldson joined the meeting at 11.23am.
7. Discussion with Senior Departmental Officials on Key RPA Policy Issues
Dr Eddie Rooney, Deputy Secretary and Chris Stewart, Head of Review of Public Administration, Department of Education, joined the meeting at 11.24am.
Mr Storey left the meeting at 11.24am.
Mr Butler rejoined the meeting at 11.24am.
The officials and Committee Members discussed a number of concerns regarding key RPA policy issues, including: the need for a stand alone Education and Skills Authority (ESA) and the potential size of the ESA; local accountability on delivery of services at local levels and the need for a formal role for local councils; the role of school sectoral bodies post-2009; and the role of ESA as a single employing authority.
The officials agreed to provide a paper comparing the current role of school sectoral bodies with the roles envisaged post-RPA reform. The officials will return to the Committee to discuss the local accountability issue and a formal role for councils.
Mr Storey rejoined the meeting at 11.26am.
Mr Bradley rejoined the meeting at 11.51am.
Mrs Bradley left the meeting at 12.03pm.
Mr Storey left the meeting at 12.15pm.
Mr Storey rejoined the meeting at 12.19pm.
Mr Lunn left the meeting at 12.30pm.
Mr McCrea left the meeting at 12.35pm.
Mr Bradley left the meeting at 12.41pm.
Rt Hon J Donaldson left the meeting at 12.41pm.
Mr Bradley rejoined the meeting at 12.45pm.
8. Draft Work Programme
The Committee agreed its work programme up to and including Friday 14 December 2007.
9. Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting will be held on Friday 7 December 2007 at 10.30am in Room 135, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.03pm.
Mr Sammy Wilson
Chairperson, Committee for Education
7 December 2007