Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 03 June 2009

Venue: ST PAUL’S HIGH SCOOL, BESSBROOK

The Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.18am in public session. The Chairperson thanked the Principal of St Paul’s for hosting the Committee’s meeting and visit to the school. The Chairperson welcomed those in the public gallery and in particular Mr Danny Kennedy MLA, Member for Newry and Armagh.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

Mrs Bradley joined the meeting at 10.25am.
Mr McCrea joined the meeting at 10.27am

2. Minutes of the Meeting of 27 May 2009

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 27 May 2009.

3. Matters Arising

(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 27 May 2009 from the Department of Education regarding the cost of producing Department publications in both English and Irish languages.

(b) The Committee noted correspondence of 27 May 2009 from the Department of Education regarding the Afasic Northern Ireland Post Primary Project.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 28 May 2009 from the Northern Ireland Teachers’ Council enclosing UTU, ATL, INTO and NASUWT responses to the Department of Education’s consultation on the draft Teachers’ (Compensation for Redundancy and Premature Retirement) Regulations (NI) 2009.

Agreed – the Committee would invite representatives from the Teachers’ Council to brief the Committee when Department of Education officials return to the Committee on the outcome of the consultation on the draft Regulations.

(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 29 May 2009 from the Department of Education enclosing a copy of a letter from the Minister of Education to Ms Karen Porter on the Department’s decision not to carry out a full Equality Impact Assessment on the draft Teachers’ (Compensation for Redundancy and Premature Retirement) Regulations (NI) 2009 and draft Teachers’ Pensions (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2009.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s correspondence to Ms Porter for information.

(e) The Committee noted correspondence of 29 May 2009 from the Department of Education on Departmental Contribution to Climate Change Targets.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to the Committee for the Environment.

(f) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 29 May 2009 from the Minister of Education to Dr Kieran Deeny MLA regarding the salary position of instrumental music teachers.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) to request an update on the progress of the revised business case from the Management Side of the JNC in respect of music tutors’ pay.

(g) The Committee considered the papers relating to the Draft Education (Pupil Reporting) Regulations (NI) 2009.

Agreed –the Committee would write to the Department of Education to confirm that the Committee had no objection to these Regulations being laid before the Assembly.

(h) The Committee noted correspondence of 27 May 2009 from Autism NI requesting a meeting with the Committee regarding the Autism Bill.

Agreed – the Committee will meet with Autism NI after its meeting with the Health Committee has taken place in September 2009.

(i) The Committee noted correspondence of 29 May 2009 from Buddy Bear Trust requesting a meeting with the Committee. The Chairperson reminded Members that he and the Deputy Chairperson have agreed to meet with representatives from the Trust, but that a date for this meeting has not yet been finalised.

(j) The Committee noted correspondence of 1 June 2009 from the Department of Education regarding Mr Glenn Simpson’s correspondence to the Minister of Education regarding pension entitlement under voluntary redundancy arrangements.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to Mr Simpson and advise that the Committee will consider this matter further when Department of Education officials return to the Committee on the outcome of the consultation on the draft Teachers’ (Compensation for Redundancy and Premature Retirement) Regulations (NI) 2009.

(k) The Committee noted correspondence of 1 June 2009 from the Department of Education regarding pre-school provision in the Upper Bann area.

Agreed – the Committee would forward a copy of the Department’s letter to Mr David Simpson MLA.

4. Correspondence

(a) The Committee noted an invitation from the Southern Education and Library Board to the launch of Holocaust Educational Resources for KS3 History on 18 June 2009 in the Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings.

Agreed – Members would advise Committee staff if they wish to attend this event.

(b) The Committee noted correspondence of 27 May 2009 from the Department of Education on the ESA Director Structure.

(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 28 May 2009 from the Committee for Employment and Learning on Foyle School and Employer Connections.

(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 28 May 2009 from Mr Peter Waddell, Principal of Ashgrove Primary School, Newtownabbey regarding a delay in the confirmation of PCGE places at the University of Ulster.

Agreed – that the Committee would forward Mr Waddell’s letter to the Department of Education for a response to the issues raised. In addition, the Committee agreed to forward the correspondence to the Committee for Employment and Learning to request that it receive comments from the Department of Employment and Learning on the issues raised.

(e) The Committee noted three Press Releases of 28 May 2009 from the Department of Education entitled ‘Qualifications and Destinations on Northern Ireland School Leavers’, ‘Ruane Oversees Contract Signing for Four New Schools’ and ‘Public Money Must be Secured – Ruane’.

(f) The Committee noted correspondence of 30 May 2009 from St Columba’s Primary School regarding changes to pension schemes.

Agreed – the Committee would forward St Columba’s correspondence to the Department of Education for comment on the issues raised and to request that officials address these issues when they come to Committee on the result of the consultation on the draft Teachers’ (Compensation for Redundancy and Premature Retirement) Regulations (NI) 2009.

(g) The Committee noted correspondence from Donaghadee High School regarding the proposed changes in legislation to the Teachers’ Premature Retirement Fund.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Donaghadee High School’s correspondence to the Department of Education for comment on the issues raised and to request that officials address these issues when they come to committee on the result of the consultation on the draft Teachers’ (Compensation for Redundancy and Premature Retirement) Regulations (NI) 2009.

(h) The Committee noted an invitation to the Dance United NI Conference ‘IMPACT: Reach.In OUT’ on 12 June 2009 in the Ulster Hall, Belfast.
Agreed – Members would advise Committee staff if they wish to attend this event.

(i) The Committee noted correspondence of 29 May 2009 from the Northern Ireland Teachers’ Council (NITC) requesting an urgent meeting with the Committee on Transfer 2010.

Agreed – the Committee would meet with NITC on 17 June 2009.

5. Forward Work Programme

The Committee noted the updated Forward Work Programme.

Members discussed the format of the Informal Reception to be held in the Long Gallery in late June and noted the list of potential organisations to be invited.

Agreed - that a maximum number of Members should attend, Committee staff would be available to note the key issues from the presentations made by the invited organisations and that these would be made available to all Members in Committee to decide appropriate action.

6. Presentation from St. Paul’s High School and St. Colman’s College on Specialist School Status

Oliver Mooney, Principal, and Una McNulty, Vice Principal of St Paul’s High School, Fr Francis Brown, Principal of St Colman’s College, and Dr Lillian Cromie, Norbrook Laboratories Ltd joined the meeting at 10.47am.

The witnesses gave a presentation on Specialist School Status and answered questions from members on a number of issues including: how specialist schools status benefits schools such as self-evaluation, and the opportunities that it provides; the partnership arrangements between the schools and Norbrook Laboratories; how specialist school status assists in raising overall school standards and tackling educational underachievement; the impact of the shortened period of designation as a Specialist School by 1 year for Cohort 3 schools; the Department of Education’s Review of the Specialist School Programme; how specialist school status benefits all pupils within the school and the wider community; has the specialism in science impacted on the delivery of science within the classroom and led to an increase in the number of students taking up STEM subjects; whether the schools have any reservations about specialist school status; whether specialism in one subject area overshadows the other subjects offered in the school; how science can be incorporated within the delivery of other subjects; whether it is anticipated that this programme will provide a flow of employees to Norbrook and whether a ‘rural factor’ for post-primary schools in the common funding formula would be beneficial.

The Chairperson requested that the Principal of St Paul’s provide a copy of correspondence from the school to the Minister of Education on the impact of the shortened period of designation as a Specialist School by 1 year for Cohort 3 schools and the review of the programme to be undertaken by the Department of Education.

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 12.06pm.

Agreed – that the Committee would write to the Department of Education regarding the shortened period of designation as a Specialist School by 1 year for Cohort 3 schools and highlighting members concerns regarding the reduction in funding for the programme.

7. Presentation from the Newry and Mourne Area Learning Community

Hugh Mallon, Chair, Fr Francis Brown, Deputy Chair, Raymond Cassidy, Principal of Rathore Special School, Newry and David Cunningham, Principal of Kilkeel High School joined the meeting at 12.07am.

The witnesses gave a presentation on the work of the Newry and Mourne Area Learning Community and answered questions from members on a number of issues including: the principle of collaboration; the purpose of the ALC; whether the ALC had collaborated with the Southern Area Based Planning Group; given the difficulties for rural schools, whether there should be a ‘rural factor’ for post-primary schools (similar to the ‘smaller school factor’) in the common funding formula; the problems in relation to the designation of ‘rural’ and ‘urban’ schools in the ALC scheme; the additional transport costs for rural schools to participate in the ALC activities; timetabling difficulties for schools within the ALC, localised collaboration within the learning community; whether there is more subject choice for pupils attending a school that is involved in the ALC; whether there are issues regarding the dominance of one sector or one community within the ALC; whether there is preference for the use of outreach centres; and the benefits of the social interaction between students from different schools and communities.

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 12.43pm.

Agreed – that the Committee would write to the Department of Education regarding the problems relating to the designation of ‘rural’ and ‘urban’ schools, the additional transport costs for rural schools to participate in the Area Learning Community activities and whether the Department should consider a ‘rural factor’ within the common funding formula.

8. Education Bill – Area-Based Planning Policy

John McGrath, Deputy Secretary, Chris Stewart, Head of RPA, Tom Flynn, Head of Programme Delivery Support Unit and Denis McMahon, Head of Investment and Infrastructure Division joined the meeting at 12.44pm.

The officials gave a presentation on Area Based Planning Policy and answered questions from members on a number of issues including: whether open enrolment and the current unregulated system of Transfer which may lead to the unchecked movement of pupils will provide difficulties for Area Based Planning, and whether there are plans to resolve this tension through legislation; the implication that area-based planning will lead to an end to open enrolment; whether there is tension between parent and pupil preferences and area planning; area plan geographic boundaries; concerns regarding a potential loss of maximised local autonomy; whether consumers and providers have a role in the development of the area plans; whether there will be any arbitration or appeal mechanism for the ESA other than the provisions within Article 101; whether the Department consider a ‘rural factor’ is required within the common funding formula; the challenges for smaller schools (particularly in rural areas) presented by area-based planning; and whether the view of pupils, parents and the local communities will be heard.

Ms O’Neill left the meeting at 1.19pm

The Chairperson thanked the officials for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 1.27pm.

Agreed – that the Committee would write to the Department of Education to highlight the key issues raised and to remind officials that they agreed provide the Committee with the wording of the second Education Bill Clauses in respect of area-based planning over the next 2 weeks.

9. Departmental Briefing – June Monitoring

The Department of Education Deputy Secretary remained at the meeting and answered a question on retrospective rental money owed to a number of Irish Medium schools.

The Committee noted the Department of Education paper on 2009-10 June Monitoring.

Agreed – Members would bring any questions on June Monitoring to next week’s meeting.

10. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The Committee noted that the next meeting of the Committee would be held on Wednesday 10 June 2009 at 10.00am in Room 144, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.30pm.

Mr Trevor Lunn
Acting Chairperson, Committee for Education
10 June 2009

Find Your MLA

Locate your local MLA

Find MLA

News and Media Centre

Read press releases, watch live and archived video.

Find out more

Follow the Assembly

Keep up to date with what's happening at the Assembly.

Find out more

Subscribe

Enter your email address to keep up to date

Sign up