Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Venue: Room 144, Parliament Buildings

It was proposed and agreed that Ms McIlveen be Acting Chairperson at the meeting in the absence of the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson. The Acting Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.09am in public session.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Minutes of the Meeting of 3 June 2009

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 3 June 2009.

3. Matters Arising

(a) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 30 May 2009 from the Minister of Education to ‘School Transfer Options for Pupils’ (STOP) regarding Transfer 2010.

(b) The Committee noted correspondence of 2 June 2009 from the Department of Education on the provision of Ulster Scots within the formal education sector.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure.

(c) The Committee noted a holding letter of 2 June 2009 from the Department of Education on literacy and numeracy outcomes – pupil performance and attainment.

(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 3 June 2009 from the Department of Education on proposals for tribunal reform.

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

(e) The Committee noted correspondence of 3 June 2009 from the Department of Education regarding the Northern Ireland Children’s Enterprise on behalf of some organisations currently delivering community relations programmes supported by the Community Relations Core Funded Scheme.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to Northern Ireland Children’s Enterprise for information.

(f) The Committee noted copy of correspondence of 2 June 2009 from the Buddy Bear Trust to the Minister of Education requesting an urgent meeting.

(g) The Committee noted correspondence of 3 June 2009 from the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety on a meeting between the Committee and representatives from the Buddy Beat Trust on 12 May 2009.

(h) The Committee noted correspondence of 4 June 2009 from the Department of Education on the development proposal for the amalgamation of St MacNissis’s, Garron Tower with St Comgal’s College, Larne and St Aloysius, Cushendal.

(i) The Committee noted correspondence of 15 May 2009 from St Comgall’s Support Group on the development proposal for the amalgamation of St MacNissis’s, Garron Tower with St Comgal’s College, Larne and St Aloysius, Cushendal.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department of Education’s letter of 4 June 2009 on this matter to St Comgall’s Support Group for information.

4. Correspondence

(a) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 30 May 2009 from Mr Robert Greer to the Minister of Education regarding politics and bureaucracy in education.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to request that it be copied into the Minister’s response to Mr Greer’s letter.

(b) The Committee noted correspondence of 2 June 2009 from Ms Annmarie McCullough from West Belfast & Colin Autism Support Group on an awareness training initiative the group have set up with local taxi companies to cater for the needs of passengers who have Autsim Spectrum Disorder.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Ms McCullough’s correspondence to the Department of Education to inform them of this initiative.

(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 3 June 2009 from the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment on a ‘Take Note’ debate relating to the impact of the economic downturn on businesses in Northern Ireland.

Agreed – the Committee would provide the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment with extracts from briefing papers received from the Department of Education which relate to this issue.

(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 1 June 2009 from the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) providing a list of Evaluation Reports published by ETI during May 2009.

(e) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 27 May 2009 from Straid Primary School, Ballyclare to Mr Basil McCrea MLA regarding the ESA.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Straid Primary School’s letter to the Department of Education for comment on the issues raised.

(f) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 19 May 2009 from Glenveagh School, Belfast to Mr Basil McCrea inviting Members of the Committee to visit the school.

(g) The Committee noted an invitation from Child Poverty Alliance NI to a seminar on how family support can help address breaking the cycle of child poverty and alleviate family poverty to be held on 16 June 2009, in the Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings.

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

(h) The Committee noted an invitation to a GTCNI policy seminar on the provision of pre-school education on 12 June 2009, in the GTCNI Office in Belfast.

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

(i) The Committee noted a freedom of information request asking for ‘A list of all questions asked of the Minister and Assembly and Committees regarding the re-establishment of the South Eastern Education Board.’

Agreed – the Committee would provide copies of the relevant information to the Assembly’s FoI Unit.

(j) The Committee noted the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland’s e-newsletter for June 2009.

(k) The Committee noted correspondence of 5 June 2009 from the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) to request that they attend the informal meeting with the Committee for Education planned for 24 June 2009.

Agreed – the Committee would invite NAHT to attend the informal meeting with the Committee.

(l) The Committee noted a press release of 8 June 2009 from Autism NI entitled West Belfast leads the way for Northern Ireland’s first ever autism friendly taxi services.

(m) The Committee noted correspondence of 5 June 2009 from CBI NI enclosing a copy of the CBI/Nord Anglia Education and Skills Survey 2009 which provides an analysis of business opinion on key education and skills issues.

(n) The Committee noted correspondence of 8 June 2009 from the Institute of Directors, Northern Ireland Division regarding the publication of the STEM Review Report.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the IoD’s letter to the Department of Education for information and to request an update on the progress of the STEM review and the anticipated date of publication.

(o) The Committee noted a press release of 8 June 2009 from the Department of Education entitled Young people must be listened to – Ruane.

(p) The Committee noted a press release of 9 June 2009 from the Department of Education entitled Education Inspectors find improvements needed in community relations work.

(q) The Committee noted an invitation from the OFMDFM Junior Ministers to a lunchtime seminar on the economic benefits of investment in early intervention on 22 June 2009 in the Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings.

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

(r) The Committee noted two press releases of 9 June 2009 from the Department of Education entitled ‘Education Minister stresses the importance of learning another language’ and ‘Minister discusses road safety with Fermanagh principals and students’.

(s) The Committee noted correspondence of 8 June 2009 from the Committee for Employment and Learning providing information on the initial teacher education intake for the five teacher training providers.

5. Education Bill – Schedule 1, paragraph 7 to 22; Clauses 2 & 3 to 12

The Committee continued its clause-by-clause consideration of the Education Bill.

The Acting Chairperson proposed, and Members agreed that as there was insufficient cross-party representation present at the meeting and as the Committee is awaiting receipt of a number of papers on the Bill from the Department, that no decision at this stage would be made regarding the Committee’s views on Schedule 1 and these clauses of the Bill.

The Acting Chairperson invited Department of Education officials in attendance in the public gallery to join the Committee to clarify issues raised in its deliberations on the Bill.

The Committee considered Schedule 1, 7 (1). Members discussed: the lack of detail within the Bill on the arrangements for local committees; and whether there is any legal impediment preventing a change in the wording of Schedule 1, 7 (1) from ‘ESA may establish committees.’ to ‘ESA shall establish committees’.

The official agreed to advise the Minister of Education of the Committee’s view on the proposed wording change and advised that a Department paper on local committees will be with the Committee next week.

The Committee considered Schedule 1, 7 (2). Members discussed the requirement for Departmental approval of external appointments to ESA committees, both sub committees and local committees.

The Committee considered Schedule 1, 7 (3) without comment.

The Committee considered Schedule 1, 8 (1). Members discussed whether they would prefer the functions within paragraph 8 to be specified within the detail of the Bill or whether they are content with these to be dealt with through Department regulations.

The Committee considered Schedule 1, Paragraphs 9 to 22 without comment.

The Committee considered Clause 2 (1) and (2).

The Department official confirmed that the wording of the Minister’s proposed amendment to include a statutory duty to encourage and facilitate Irish-medium education will be provided next week in the Ministers reply to the Committee’s letter of 20 May and will also contain most, if not all of the other information that the Committee requested.

The Committee considered Clause 2 (3) to (8).

Ms McIlveen left the meeting at 10.59am and Mr Lunn took the Chair. The Acting Chairperson advised that the Committee was inquorate; however the meeting could continue under the provisions of Standing Order 49(5).

The Committee began consideration of Clause 3.

A Member suggested that as the Committee remained inquorate, there was little point in continuing with the clause by clause scrutiny of the Bill. The Acting Chairperson suspended the meeting at 11.05pm.

The meeting resumed at 11.15am.

The Acting Chairperson advised Members that during the suspension Committee staff were unable to contact any other Members to establish if they would be able to attend the remainder of today’s meeting and that he would adjourn the meeting without further scrutiny of the Bill.

The Acting Chairperson thanked the officials for their assistance with the Committee’s deliberations on the Bill and they left the meeting at 11.15am.

The Acting Chairperson reminded Members that an informal meeting with Department officials and the Chief Executive of Early Years – the organisation for young children -would take place in the Press Conference Suite at 12.00 noon.

10. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The Committee noted that the next meeting of the Committee would be held on Wednesday 17 June 2009 at 10.00am in Room 144, Parliament Buildings.

he Acting Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 11.16pm.

Mr Mervyn Storey
Chairperson, Committee for Education
17 June 2009

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