Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Venue: Room 144, Parliament Buildings

The Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.05am in closed session.

1. Apologies

None.

2. Legal Advice

The Committee noted a paper from an Assembly’s Legal Advisor.

Agreed – the Committee would invite the Assembly’s Legal Advisor to the next Committee meeting to discuss the paper.

The meeting moved into public session at 10.07am.

3. Minutes of the Meeting of 10 June 2009

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 10 June 2009.

4. Forward Work Programme

The Committee discussed the forward work programme and the time remaining for the scrutiny of the Education Bill. The Chairperson advised Members that the DUP Members of the Committee would not be available to attend the regular Committee meeting in the morning of, and informal reception scheduled for the afternoon of, 24 June 2009.

Agreed – the Committee meeting due to take place on the 24 June would be rescheduled to take place on Friday, 26 June 2009 commencing 10.00 am and the informal reception would be rescheduled from the afternoon to the morning of the 24 June 2009.

The Chairperson asked Members, if they had not already done so, to indicate their availability to attend the informal reception taking place on Wednesday morning.

Members who can attend the meeting were confirmed as follows: Mr D Bradley (Deputy Chairperson), Mr T Lunn, Mr T Elliott, and Mr B McCrea and Mr J O’Dowd.

Agreed - The Committee would reschedule the policy briefing from the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, which was scheduled for today’s meeting to take place at a future meeting of the Committee.

Agreed - The Committee would postpone the Ulster Scots Education Forum briefing until after the Summer Recess.

5. Matters Arising

(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 9 June 2009 from the Minister of Education to the Committee for Employment and Learning regarding the intakes to courses of Initial Teacher Education for 2009/10 and the review of the Teacher Demand Model.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to the Committee for Employment and Learning.

(b) The Committee noted a holding letter of 8 June 2009 from the Department of Employment and Learning Education regarding PGCE places.

(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 8 June 2009 from the Joint Negotiating Council (JNC) for Education and Library Boards - Management Side regarding the salary position of Instrumental Music Tutors.

Agreed – the Committee would forward JNC Management Side’s letter to Dr Kieran Deeney MLA for information.

(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 9 June 2009 from the Department of Education on the removal of the bid for the purchase of the Clooney site from its June Monitoring submission.

(e) The Committee noted correspondence of 10 June 2009 from the Department of Education on Smart Start.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to Smart Start for information.

(f) The Committee noted correspondence of 11 June 2009 from the Department of Education regarding the Draft Teachers’ (Compensation for Redundancy and Premature Retirement) Regulations (NI) 2009 and the Draft Teachers’ Pensions (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2009.

Members discussed the implementation of these Regulations through the negative resolution procedure for Statutory Rules in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to the Principal of Donaghadee High School for information.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to request that officials address the issues contained in the letter from the Principal of Donaghadee High School, when they come to Committee to discuss the outcome of the consultation on the draft Regulations.

(g) The Committee noted correspondence of 12 June 2009 from the Department of Education on the Share’s Centre’s funding application to the Youth Council for Northern Ireland.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to Mr Tom Elliott MLA for information.

(h) The Committee noted correspondence of 15 June 2009 from the Department of Education regarding the Draft Teachers’ (Compensation for Redundancy and Premature Retirement) Regulations (NI) 2009 and the Draft Teachers’ Pensions (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2009.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to Mr Dominic Bradley MLA for information.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to request that officials address the issues contained in the correspondence from St Columba’s Primary School, when they come to Committee to discuss the outcome of the consultation on the draft Regulations.

(i) The Committee noted correspondence of 15 June 2009 from the Department of Education on Relationships and Sexuality Education.

Agreed – the Committee would request Department officials to brief the Committee on Relationships and Sexuality Education later in the year.

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

(j) The Committee noted an Assembly Research Paper on ‘Relationships and Sexuality Education in the Northern Ireland Revised Curriculum for Primary and Post-Primary Education.

(k) The Committee noted correspondence of 16 June 2009 from the Department of Education to an Assembly Research Officer on Partnership Management Board and Teacher Training.

(l) The Committee noted correspondence of 16 June 2009 from the Department of Education regarding PCGE places at the University of Ulster.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to the Principal of Ashgrove Primary School for information.

(m) The Committee noted correspondence of 16 June 2009 from the Department of Education on Specialist Schools, the Entitlement Framework Formula and the Common Funding Formula.

Agreed – the Committee would forward a copy of the Department’s letter to the Principal of St Paul’s High School and the Chairperson of Newry and Mourne Area Learning Community.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department to request further information on the funding and objectives for the 10 schools that will be designated as Specialist Schools from September 2009.

Mr Elliott joined the meeting at 10 .21am.

(n) The Committee noted correspondence of 11 and 15 June 2009 from Ms Lisa Saunders, on the Draft Education (Pupil Records and Reporting) Regulations (NI) 2009.

Agreed - the Committee would provide Ms Saunders with the information requested on the Draft Regulations 2009 and information on the negative resolution procedure for Statutory Rules in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

(o) The Committee noted correspondence of 17 June 2009 from the Minister of Education responding to issues raised by the Committee in its scrutiny of the Education Bill.

6. Correspondence

(a) The Committee noted extracts from the Public Accounts Committee’s ‘Third Composite Report on Issues Dealt with by Correspondence’ for information.

(b) The Committee noted a Press Release of 15 June 2009 from the Department of Education entitled Minister helps start building work on new schools.

7. Education Bill – Scrutiny of Clauses 1 to 2, Schedule 1 and Clauses 3 to 12

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

Ms O’Neill joined the meeting at 10.40am
Mr McCrea joined the meeting at 10.42am
Mr Poots joined the meeting at 10.47am

The Committee considered Schedule 1, Paragraph 2 (1) (b). Members discussed the number of members of the ESA. The Committee agreed to request the outcome of the Minister’s reflection on this before considering this matter further.

The Committee considered Schedule 1, Paragraph 2 (2) (a). One Member raised concerns regarding the majority councillor membership of the ESA.

The Committee considered Schedule 1, Paragraph 2 (2) (b). Members discussed whether the membership of the ESA should be broadly representative of the community, similar to the requirements on the memberships of the Equality Commission and the Human Rights Commission and the Minister’s response that arrangements will combine the merit principle with the need to ensure balance. A Member suggested that it would be helpful for the Committee look at this issue within the context of the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland’s ‘Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies’ and requested that Members are provided with copies of this publication.

The Committee considered Schedule 1, Paragraph 2 (3). Members discussed the negative resolution procedure to which this order would be subject.

Agreed – the Clerk would provide a paper on Statutory Rules Assembly procedures. Department officials were asked whether similar clauses in respect of Board membership are contained within other RPA legislation such as the Health legislation.

The Committee considered Schedule 1, Paragraph 4. Officials agreed to provide the Committee with details of the remuneration levels of Board members including that of the Chair of the Board.

The Committee considered Schedule 1, Paragraph 7 (1). Members discussed: the Minister’s rejection of the suggested amendment to change the word ‘may’ to ‘shall’ ; the Minister’s continued position that the ESA committee arrangements should not appear on the face of the Bill; and whether it would be possible to include enabling provisions in the Bill for the Department to make regulations in respect of local committees and other ESA Committees.

Mr McCausland left the meeting at 11.33am

The Committee considered Schedule 1, Paragraph 7 (2) and (3). The Committee agreed it is content with these paragraphs as drafted.

The Committee considered Schedule 1, Paragraphs 8 (1) and (2). The Committee agreed it is content with these paragraphs as drafted.

The Committee considered Schedule 1, Paragraph 8 (3) and (4). Members noted that regulations made under Paragraph 8 (4) are subject to negative resolution. Members discussed Assembly procedures for statutory rules and agreed to come back to this after considering the Clerk’s paper on subordinate legislation procedure at next week’s meeting.

Mr McCausland rejoined the meeting at 11.56am

The Committee considered Schedule 1, Paragraphs 9 to 18. The Committee agreed it is content with these paragraphs as drafted.

Agreed – The Committee would write to the Department of Education to request: the outcome of the Minister’s reflection on the number of members on the ESA; that officials provide a paper on how the Equality Commission and Human Rights Commission achieve representative membership Boards; and in addition, given the limited remaining time for the Committee’s scrutiny of the Bill that officials provide weekly responses as a matter of urgency to Committee queries on the Bill.

Agreed – the Committee would continue with its clause-by-clause consideration of the Bill at the next meeting, commencing with Schedule 1, Paragraph 19.

Ms O’Neill left the meeting at 12.17pm

8. Briefing from Northern Ireland Teachers’ Council on Transfer 2010

Ms Avril Hall-Callaghan, Chair of NITC, Mr A Brown, ATL, Mr David Canning, NAHT, Mr Tony Carlin, INTO and Mr Seamus Searson, NASUWT joined the meeting at 12.19 pm.

The witnesses gave a presentation on their concerns in relation to Transfer 2010 arrangements and answered questions from members on a number of issues including: the pressures that are building up for schools; the difficult situation which primary school pupils, their parents and teachers are currently facing in an unregulated system; the position of many primary school teachers who have been asked to coach pupils for a number of entrance exams and the position of teachers who have been asked to invigilate pupils undertaking these exams; legal issues; the perceived failure of the political parties to reach political consensus on Transfer; whether the Teachers’ Council has a strategy or policy to resolve the current political stalemate; how much support within the Teachers Unions’ membership there is for and against academic assessment of any kind; whether children can be tested on the revised curriculum test;

Ms O’Neill rejoined the meeting at 12.28pm

the Teachers Unions’ position in relation to the Committee’s proposed compromise interim position; whether there would be a support amongst the Teachers Unions for a 3 year interim CEA test; and whether academic selection is a process or an event.

Mr Elliott left the meeting at 1.06pm
Mr McCrea left the meeting at 1.08pm
Mrs Bradley left the meeting at 1.15pm
Mr McCausland left the meeting at 1.20pm
Mr Poots left the meeting at 1.25pm
Mr O’Dowd left the meeting at 1.28pm

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 1.28 pm.

9. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The Committee noted that the next meeting of the Committee would be held on Friday 26 June 2009 at 10.00am in Room 144, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.30pm.

Mr Mervyn Storey
Chairperson, Committee for Education
26 June 2009

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