Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 04 March 2009

Venue: Room 144, Parliament Buildings

The Deputy Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.03am in public session.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Minutes of the Meeting of 25 February 2009

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 25 February 2009 subject to minor amendment.

Ms McIlveen joined the meeting at 10.05am.

3. Matters Arising

(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 24 February 2009 from the Chief Inspector of the Education and Training Inspectorate confirming attendance at the Committee meeting on 18 March 2009.

(b) The Committee noted correspondence of 24 February 2009 from the Department of Education on Global Dimensions in Schools NI.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the correspondence to Global Dimensions in Schools NI.

(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 23 February 2009 from the Minister of Education regarding legal advice on the Transfer 2010 Guidance issued on 2 February 2009. The Committee also noted correspondence of 2 March 2009 from the Chairperson of the Committee for Education to the Minister confirming the Committee’s meeting with the Minister to discuss Transfer 2010 Guidance and related issues on 10 March 2009 and to request receipt of papers in adequate time before this meeting.

(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 25 February 2009 from the Department of Education on funding for the Bookstart Programme.
Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department of Education’s correspondence and the Committee for Education Chairperson’s letter of 23 December 2008 to the Minister of Education on this issue to Bookstart.

(e) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence from the Minister of Education to CCMS Primary Principals’ Group on issues they had raised regarding ESA.

(f) The Committee noted correspondence of 23 February 2009 from the Minister of Education to the Committee for Employment and Learning on issues raised by the Employment Services Board in a presentation to that Committee.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the correspondence to the Committee for Employment and Learning.

(g) The Committee noted correspondence of 23 February 2009 from the Minister of Education to the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety on the Committee’s Inquiry into Obesity.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the correspondence to the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety.

(h) The Committee noted correspondence of 23 February 2009 from Autism NI on the informal meeting planned with the Committee for Education on 28 April 2009.

(i) The Committee noted correspondence of 26 February 2009 from the Committee for Employment and Learning confirming the availability of officials from the Department of Employment and Learning to brief the Committee for Education on aspects of the Report on the Review of Teacher Education on 1 April 2009.

(j) The Committee noted correspondence of 23 February 2009 from St Comgall’s College Support Group on a CCMS development proposal.

Agreed – the Committee would forward this correspondence to the Department of Education requesting its position on the issues raised.

(k) The Committee noted further correspondence of 26 February 2009 from St Comgall’s College Support on a CCMS development proposal.

(l) The Committee noted correspondence of 23 February 2009 from TTRS Northern Ireland responding to a letter from the Department of Education on the TTRS Programme.

(m) The Committee noted correspondence of 27 February 2009 from the Department of Education correcting a reference to clause 12 mistakenly given by an official in an evidence session to the Committee on 18 February 2009.

(n) The Committee noted correspondence of 26 February 2009 from CCMS on Anamar Primary School.

Agreed – the Committee would forward CCMS’s correspondence to Anamar Primary School.

(o) The Committee noted the research report into childcare provision in the South Armagh area, ‘Childcare - who cares?’, commissioned by South Armagh Childcare Consortium.

4. Correspondence

(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 23 February 2009 from St John Ambulance on the launch of their strategy for schools.

Agreed – the Committee would write to St John Ambulance requesting a copy of their strategy document.

(b) The Committee noted an invitation from the Spirit of Enniskillen Trust to meet with a group of young volunteers.

Agreed – the Committee agreed that the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson would meet with representatives from the Trust and report back to the Committee. It was further agreed - that any other Members who wished to attend this meeting would advise committee staff.

(c) The Committee noted an invitation to attend Capita’s second Annual Northern Ireland Governance Conference on 20 March 2009.

(d) The Committee noted an invitation to the second of Together for All’s 2009 series of seminars on ‘understanding the adoption and implementation of evidence based practices into mainstream’ on 26 March 2009.

(e) The Committee noted a press release of 27 February 2009 from the Department of Education entitled ‘Publication of Statistical Information on School Attendance’.

(f) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 23 February 2009 from Coleraine Academical Institution to the Minister of Education on accommodation requirements to facilitate home economics provision within the school.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to request that the Department’s response is copied to the Committee when available.

(g) The Committee noted correspondence of 25 February 2009 from Mr Richard Channing, Portrush to the Minister of Education regarding the future use of the Portrush Catering College site.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the correspondence to the Department of Education for the attention of the Minister.

(h) The Committee noted an invitation from the Department of Education to attend a number of School Improvement Conferences to be held on 25 March, 30 March and 1 April 2009.

Agreed – Members would advise Committee staff if they wished to attend any of the conferences.

(i) The Committee noted correspondence of 3 March 2009 from the Northern Ireland Committee of the NAHT on special schools.

5. Education Bill – Schedules and related Clauses

Chris Stewart, Head of Review of Public Administration, Jeff Brown and Peter Burns, Review of Public Administration Legislation Team joined the meeting at 10.09am.

Mr McCrea joined the meeting at 10.10am.

The officials gave a presentation on the establishment of the ESA; Clauses 1 – 2 and Schedule 1 and answered questions from members on a number of issues including: the number of members and composition of the ESA; ensuring there is scope for sufficient breadth of skills, knowledge and experience on the ESA; rationale for the majority of members being District Councillors; the time commitment involved for members of the ESA; the Assembly disqualification provisions; principle of merit and proportionality; conflict of interest; cross-party representation on ESA; provisions to ensure that changes in ESA membership are staggered; the number and composition of sub committees;

Mr Poots joined the meeting at 10.17am.

the use of the terms ‘spiritual’ and ‘social’ within Clause 2; representation of nursery and pre-school provision across the statutory, private and voluntary sectors; explanation for the provisions within Clause 2 (5) and 2 (6) for ESA to carry out administrative functions at the direction of DE or DEL; the absence of provision for passing on ESA receipts; and provisions for ceasing membership of ESA committee(s), after ceasing ESA membership.

Mr Poots left the meeting at 10.44am.

The officials gave a presentation on Transfer of Staff; Clause 9 and Schedule 2 and answered questions from members on a number of issues including: how ESA will manage the harmonisation of staff salaries and terms and conditions; whether the Chief Executive Designate has begun negotiations with the Unions on this; how this related to the Education Workforce Review; whether the transfer arrangements are standard within RPA arrangements; and the transfer of civil servants to ESA.

The officials gave a presentation on Transfer of Assets; Clause 22 and Schedule 3, 4 and 5 and answered questions from members on a number of issues including: the formula for clawback and the scale and complexity of the transfer scheme.

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and the officials left the meeting at 11.22am.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education highlighting the issues raised by the Committee and ask for:

  • Proposals on how to ensure a balance between the merit principle and the need to ensure an appropriate spread of representation amongst the membership of the ESA.
  • Request receipt of an outstanding paper on the local structures of ESA which will include reference to the role and composition of sub committees and indicate the number of committees that will be needed.
  • Details of the investment formula for clawback.
  • Details on the position of ESA Designate planning for asset transfers, harmonisation of staff salaries and terms and conditions and the relationship with the Education Workforce Review.
  • An explanation for why finance provisions within Clause 15 (4) of the Libraries Act (NI) 2008 are not provided for under ESA; and similarly why term of office provisions within Clause 5 (2)(a) of the Health and Social Care (Reform) Bill are not provided for under ESA.

Agreed – the Committee agreed to seek legal advice on whether there is a legal impediment for Members of the Assembly to sit on the ESA and whether this presents potential risk for conflict of interest.

6. Departmental Briefing on Changes to Common Funding Formula 2009/10

Louise Ward-Hunter, Head of Early Years, Youth and School Finance Division, Roisin Lilley and Ken Reid, School Finance Branch joined the meeting at 10.09am.

The officials gave a presentation on changes to the common funding formula 2009/10 and answered questions from members on a number of issues including: the Principals Release Fund; whether this funding is to be ring-fenced and not to be used by principals for other purposes; support for the proposed methodology to distribute this funding; the budget surpluses held by primary schools; nursery school funding; the AWPU weighting, the impact of the Foundation Stage factor; increased investment in primary education and disparity between funding for primary and post primary schools; the timescale for the Review of the Common Funding Formula; and the delay in budget allocation letters for 2009-10 being issued to Education and Library Boards.

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and the officials left the meeting at 12.15pm.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education requesting they provide the following:

  • clarification on whether the funding allocated through the Primary Principals’ Release Time factor has to a degree to be ring fenced;
  • the most recent records detailing the budget surpluses held by primary schools;
  • the paper (discussed with the Committee in June 2008) outlining the scope and phasing etc of the Review of the Common Funding Formula as soon as possible;
  • a list of dates for the past 5 years on which the budget allocation letter were issued by the Department of Education to the Education and Library Boards; and
  • a range of options for consideration by the Committee to address the gap between primary school funding and post primary school funding.

7. +Forward Work Programme

The Committee considered the updated forward work programme and proposals for the programme.

Agreed – that the proposed list of stakeholders be invited to give oral evidence on the Committee’s consideration of the Education Bill over the next four weeks.

Agreed – that the Departmental briefing on ‘Literacy and Numeracy Outcomes – Pupil Performance and Attainment’ scheduled for 11 March 2009 be postponed.

8. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The Deputy Chairperson reminded Members that the next meeting of the Committee will be held on Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 10.00am in Room 21 to discuss Transfer 2010 arrangements with the Minister of Education.
The Committee agreed that the regular weekly meeting of the Committee would be held on Wednesday 11 March 2009 at 10.00am in Room 144, Parliament Buildings following which, the Committee meet with pupils from Craigavon area schools.

The Deputy Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.29pm.

Mr Mervyn Storey
Chairperson, Committee for Education
11 March 2009

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