Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Wednesday, 05 November 2008
Venue: Ballymena Academy
The Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.34am in public session.
Apologies are detailed above.
2. Minutes of the Meeting of 22 October 2008
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 22 October 2008.
3. Matters Arising
(a) The Committee noted the response from the Minister regarding a legislative basis for the Minister’s proposals for transfer to post-primary education.
Agreed – a query was raised for the Clerk regarding the date of receipt of this response.
(b) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding Primary School Funding and 2008-09 September Monitoring Round.
(c) The Committee noted the letter from the Department regarding outstanding Committee correspondence in respect of the Review of Public Administration in Education.
(d) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding research on Special Educational Needs in Irish-medium education.
Agreed - The Committee will request clarification of the procedures used by the Department in commissioning such research. The Committee will also request details of who submitted the other proposals for this research in 2004.
(e) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding redundancy legislation.
(f) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding funding allocation differentials between urban and rural schools.
(g) The Committee noted the letter from the NASUWT regarding Movilla High School, Newtownards.
(h) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding Anahorish Primary School.
Agreed – the Committee will forward a copy of the response to Anahorish Primary School.
(i) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding inter-departmental arrangements on the co-ordination of autism matters.
Agreed – the Committee will forward a copy of the response to Autism NI (PAPA).
(j) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding its progress against the Westminster Public Accounts Committee and Northern Ireland Audit Office recommendations on literacy and numeracy.
(k) The Committee noted the response from the Minister of Education to the Committee for Employment and Learning regarding its request for Department of Education officials to give a briefing on the setting of intake levels to initial teacher training education courses.
Agreed – the Committee will forward the response to the Committee for Employment and Learning.
(a) The Committee noted the correspondence from Mrs I Robinson MP MLA regarding the Bookstart Programme. The Committee also noted the correspondence from the Bookstart Development Manager requesting an opportunity to make a presentation to the Committee.
Agreed – the Committee will forward the correspondence to the Department for comment and will invite Bookstart to give a presentation at the Committee’s meeting on 10 December 2008. The Committee also approved the draft response to Mrs Robinson MP MLA.
(b) The Committee noted the correspondence from the Committee of the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister regarding its ‘Consideration of European Issues’.
Agreed – the Committee will request a briefing note from the Department on its current and planned involvement with European issues.
(c) The Committee noted the correspondence from the Staff Commission for Education and Library Boards regarding the Equality Impact Assessment on the Registration and Grant Aid Scheme for Local Voluntary Youth Groups.
(d) The Committee noted the invitation to the GoSkills Passenger Transport Awards to be held in London on 13 November 2008.
(e) The Committee noted correspondence from Ms B Lawther regarding the transfer procedure.
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft response.
(f) The Committee noted the correspondence from the Staff Commission for Education and Library Boards on the Supplementary Screening Report on the Screening of New Policies for the Period 1 April 2007 – 31 March 2008.
(g) The Committee noted the invitation from the NI Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) to hold a meeting in the NICCY offices in the next session of the Assembly.
(h) The Committee noted the copy correspondence from Sacred Heart College, Omagh to the Department.
Agreed – the Committee will request a copy of the Department’s response to Sacred Heart College.
(i) The Committee noted Help the Aged in NI’s SeniorLine Benchmark Survey 2008.
(j) The Committee noted PricewaterhouseCooper’s public policy article, ‘Transforming school leadership – the case for collaborative leadership in NI schools.’
(k) The Committee noted the Equality Commission for NI’s newsletter, ‘Equality Focus for MLAs Sept/October 2008.’
(l) The Committee noted two Departmental reports for the year ended 31 March 2008: ‘Department of Education – Teachers’ Superannuation Annual Scheme Statements’; and ‘Resource Accounts.’
(m) The Committee noted the Joint Statement by the Educational Spokespersons for the four main Churches on transfer arrangements.
(n) The Committee noted two Departmental press releases: ‘Ruane – Applauds Continued Success of Curriculum Sports Programme’; and ‘Women are an Untapped Resource in Business.’
5. Assembly Commission Annual Report
Agreed – the draft Committee for Education input to the Assembly Commission Annual Report, covering the period 8 May 2007 to 4 July 2008, was approved.
6. Presentation by the North Eastern Area-Based Planning Group
John Young, Chair, North Eastern Area Group; Gerry Kelly, Education Officer, NEELB; Trevor Neilands, Director, Northern Regional College; and Paul O’Doherty, Policy Development Officer, Council for Catholic Maintained Schools, joined the meeting at 10.48am. The witnesses gave a presentation on the Group’s progress, plans and challenges.
Mr Poots joined the meeting at 11.06am.
The witnesses answered questions on a number of issues, including: the Terms of Reference for the Groups and transfer at age 11 or age 14; the timescale for completion of the Groups’ reports; engagement with local learning communities and collaboration between schools and Further Education colleges in the NEELB area; consideration of Special Educational Needs and early years policy reviews; Irish Medium Schools policy review and compatibility of federations of schools with area-based plans; educational human rights and equality of access to the Entitlement Framework from 2013 onwards; co-operation between the area planning Groups across boundaries between Education and Library Board areas; and the Sustainable Schools policy and the need to ensure area plans are fit for purpose.
The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 11.50am.
7. Presentation by Wright Group and Moy Park
William Wright OBE, Director, and Gardner McCluney, Apprentice Training Co-ordinator, Wright Bus Ltd; and Dr Trefor Campbell CBE, Former Chairman, and Daniel McLarnon, Group Corporate Development Director, Moy Park, joined the meeting at 11.50am. The witnesses gave a presentation on the skills gap they experience with school leavers entering the two companies, and answered questions on a number of issues, including: the need for basic standards of literacy and numeracy to increase employment prospects and opportunities; the impact of health and safety restrictions on practical learning; the need to increase the emphasis on technical skills and re-establish ‘junior’ technical colleges; partnerships between local businesses and education providers; the number of females employed by both companies; and the need to unlock potential and encourage entrepreneurship.
The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an interesting and informative briefing and they left the meeting at 12.46pm.
8. Presentation by Ballymena Learning Together
Ruth Wilson, Principal, Dunclug College; Ronnie Hassard, Principal, Ballymena Academy; Catherine Magee, Principal, St Patrick’s College; and Raymond McFeeters, Principal, Castletower Special School, joined the meeting at 12.47pm. The witnesses gave a presentation on the group’s successes, concerns and challenges.
The Chairperson left the meeting at 12.49pm.
The Deputy Chairperson took the Chair at 12.49pm.
The Chairperson rejoined the meeting and took the Chair at 12.53pm.
The witnesses answered questions on a number of issues, including: the relationship between local learning communities and area-based planning Groups and their submission to the NE Area Group; increased opportunities for pupils at special schools; reading recovery; sharing of expertise between special and mainstream schools; and parental and community responses to collaboration between school sectors.
The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 1.27pm.
9. Forward Work Programme
Agreed – the Committee approved the proposed items of business for the planned Committee meeting and visit to Portadown on 3 December 2008.
Agreed – the Committee approved the revised draft Forward Work Programme.
10. Any Other Business
Agreed – Members will forward Party responses to some potential developments to the Minister’s proposals for transfer to post-primary education discussed at the Committee’s meeting on 1 October 2008 to the Clerk as soon as possible for consideration at the Committee’s meeting on 12 November 2008.
Agreed – the Committee will request a presentation from the Department on the issue of maintenance of school buildings.
11. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 12 November 2008 at 10.00am in Room 144, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.30pm
Mr Mervyn Storey
Chairperson, Committee for Education
12 November 2008