Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Wednesday, 03 December 2008
Venue: Portadown College
The Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.37am in public session.
Apologies are detailed above.
2. Minutes of the Meeting of 26 November 2008
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 26 November 2008.
3. Matters Arising
(a) The Committee noted the invitation from the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation to its Northern Conference.
Agreed – Any member interested in attending the conference will inform the Clerk as soon as possible.
(b) The Committee noted the CCMS Evaluation Paper on Federated Schools in Garvagh and Business Case for shared technology facilities in Limavady.
(c) The Committee noted the BELB’s Review of reciprocal special educational needs arrangements across the five Education and Library Boards.
(a) The Committee noted the BELB consultation document ‘Building Libraries for the Future’.
(b) The Committee noted the correspondence from Amanda Hamill regarding school transport provision and 3 mile rule.
Agreed – the Committee would forward Ms Hamill’s correspondence to the Department seeking its comments on the issues raised and inform Ms Hamill accordingly.
(c) The Committee noted the correspondence from the principal of Cookstown Primary School regarding Primary School funding received from Mr I McCrea MLA.
Agreed – the Committee would write to Mr McCrea in the terms of the draft reply.
(d) The Committee noted the correspondence received from St Joseph’s High School regarding the delay in the provision of a new school.
Agreed – the Committee would forward the correspondence to the Department seeking its comments on the issues raised and inform St Joseph’s accordingly.
(e) The Committee noted the correspondence from the Institute of Physics in Ireland regarding the NI STEM Review.
(f) The Committee noted the correspondence received from the NASUWT regarding industrial action . Mr K Robinson declared his interest as a member of the NASUWT.
Agreed – The Committee would write to the NASUWT in the terms of the draft reply.
(g) The Committee noted the Advice NI Annual Report 2008.
(h) The Committee noted Issue 02 of the Rose Energy newsletter.
(i) The Committee noted the correspondence from Ms Teresa Donnelly regarding school meals.
Agreed – the Committee would forward Ms Donnelly’s correspondence to the Department seeking its comments on the issues raised and inform Ms Donnelly accordingly.
(j) The Committee noted the correspondence from the Committee for Social Development to the Minister of Education.
Agreed – the Committee would forward the correspondence from the Chairperson of the Committee for Social Development to the Minister of Education.
(k) The Committee noted the following press statements from the Department: ‘Students are working together in a world class establishment – Ruane’;’25 November 2008 – Education and Skills Authority Bill introduced’; ‘Education Minister meets young scientists at Stormont’.
5. Presentation by Junior High Schools (Controlled Sector)
Mr Hugh McCarthy, Principal of Killicomaine Junior High School, Mr Trevor Canning, Principal of Clounagh Junior High School, Mr David Gillespie, Principal of Tandragee Junior High School, and Mr Joseph Johnston, Principal of Lurgan Junior High School, joined the meeting at 10.44am.
The witnesses gave a presentation on their successes, challenges and concerns and answered questions on a number of issues, including: their priorities in terms of the challenges facing them; the plans for the controlled sector estate in the Lurgan area, including the facilities available to pupils on the Lurgan campus of Craigavon High School; the timing of the test which precedes transfer at age 14 and whether testing was necessary in light of other pupil information available; the transferability of the Dickson Plan system to other areas and the factors that might make an area suitable for a two-tier system; the proportion of pupils who obtain a place at their first preference school; whether the test was more about assessment or selection and the extent to which pupils and parents self-select; the proportion of pupils in the Dickson Plan area who end up in academic streams compared to the other areas; the streaming or banding of pupils , movement between streams/bands and the pressures associated with tests to stream or band pupils; the objectivity of the testing administered across the different schools; the exchange of information between Primary Schools and Junior High Schools and between Junior and Senior High Schools; whether the Dickson Plan system added particular value in addressing the ‘tail’ of academic underachievement and problems of low self-esteem and basic literacy/numeracy; and the appropriate age for testing and choice of educational paths;
Mr McCausland joined the meeting at 10.48am.
Mr Poots left the meeting at 11.41am.
Mr Poots rejoined the meeting at 11.52am.
The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and the witnesses left the meeting at 11.53am.
Mr Bradley left the meeting at 11.53am.
Ms O’Neill left the meeting at 11.53am.
Mr Bradley rejoined the meeting at 11.55am.
Ms O’Neill rejoined the meeting at11.57am
6. Presentation from Senior High Schools/Colleges (Controlled Sector)
Mr Trevor Robinson, Headmaster of Lurgan College, Mr David Mehaffey, Headmaster of Craigavon Senior High School and Mrs Deborah Hare, Headteacher of Portadown College, joined the meeting at 11.55am. The witnesses made a presentation to the Committee on their successes and challenges and answered questions on a number of issues including: whether age 14 is too late to address problems with basic literacy/numeracy; the relatively short time (5 terms) that young people had at Craigavon Senior High School before sitting GCSEs, the 50% turnover of pupils each year, the fluctuations in pupil numbers and the implications for budget planning; non-standardisation of the Junior High Schools’ tests and the need for the admission test at age 14; the level of pupil/parent support for the current system, the number of pupils going to the school of their first choice and the lack of appeals; the balance between content and skills in the revised curriculum; the difficulties presented by the Lurgan campus of Craigavon High School and the need for a strategic overview in respect of the controlled sector school estate; the impact on pupils self-esteem of being streamed as level ‘C’; whether a federation of schools or a system which allowed pupils to make choices at 14 but remain within the same school has advantages over the current system; movement of pupils in and out of the Dickson Plan schools’ area; pupil/parent preference for school, as opposed to further education provision, for the 16-19 age group; the numbers and percentages of pupils from areas of social deprivation attending selective Senior High Schools/Colleges.
The Chairperson left the meeting at 12.37pm.
The Deputy Chairperson took the Chair at 12.37pm.
The Chairperson rejoined the meeting and took the Chair at 12.41pm.
Mr Bradley left the meeting at 12.46pm.
Mr Bradley rejoined the meeting at 12.52pm.
The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 12.56pm.
Ms O’Neill left the meeting at 12.56pm
7. Presentation from Maintained and other schools in the Craigavon Two-Tier System and Craigavon Area Learning Community
Mr Gerard Adams, Principal of St Michael’s Grammar School/Senior High, Mr Stephen Creber, Principal Brownlow Integrated College, Mr Joe Corrigan, Principal of Lismore Comprehensive School and Mrs Deirdre McNally, Principal of St Mary’s High School Lurgan joined the meeting at 12.57pm. The witnesses gave a brief presentation on the range of schools involved in the Craigavon Area Learning Community (ALC) and the various types of school provision and answered questions on a number of issues including: the coordination of the ALC’s work with that of the Post-Primary Schools Area-Based Planning Group; opportunities for pupils to gain early leadership experience within 11-19 schools; the proposal to merge St Michaels, St Mary’s and St Paul’s schools on the St Michael’s site as a non-selective, co-educational, 11-19 school, the impact of this proposal on parent/pupil choice within the maintained sector, and the consultation regarding this proposal and the consensus around it; the ability of non-selective 11-19 schools, such as Lismore to offer choice, both academic and vocational; pupil and parental preference for provision for age 16-19 in a 6 th form school setting as opposed to a further education setting.
Mr K Robinson left the meeting at 1.08pm
The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 1.46pm.
8. Forward Work Programme
The Committee noted the updated Forward Work Programme in the items in the Tabled Folder. The Chairperson proposed to request senior departmental officials to the 10 December meeting to brief the Committee on issues on the forthcoming Education Bill, and in particular timescale issues
Agreed: the proposal and the updated Forward Work Programme were agreed.
9. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 10 December 2008 at 10.00am in Room 144, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.49pm
Mr Mervyn Storey
Chairperson, Committee for Education
10 December 2008