Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Venue: Room 144, Parliament Buildings

The Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.02am in closed session.

1. Apologies

None.

2. Minutes of the Meeting of 1 April 2009

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 1 April 2009.

3. Matters Arising

Mr McCausland joined the meeting at 10.05am

(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 1 and 6 April 2009 from Mr William Haughan on the statutory assessment of his son and a data protection breech.

(b) The Committee noted correspondence of 2 April 2009 from the Department of Education regarding correspondence from Mr Haughan.

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

(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 2 April 2009 from the Department of Education enclosing ‘Every School a Good School – Supporting Newcomer Pupils’ Policy Document.

(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 27 March 2009 from the Minister of Education to the Chairperson of the Committee for Employment and Learning regarding the date for publication of the Teacher Education Review.

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

(e) The Committee noted correspondence of 2 April 2009 from the Department of Education regarding the economic appraisal for the post-primary schools in the Glens and East Antrim.

Agreed – the Committee would forward a copy of the Department’s letter to St Comgall’s College Support Group.

(f) The Committee noted correspondence of 3 April 2009 from the Committee for Employment and Learning on Work Shadowing Placements during Learning Disability Week.

(g) The Committee noted correspondence of 3 April 2009 from the Department of Education regarding funding for staffing in Ballykelly Primary School.

Agreed – the Committee would forward a copy of the Department’s letter to Ballykelly Primary School and write to the WE&LB for their comments on this matter.

(h) The Committee noted correspondence of 6 April 2009 from the Department of Education regarding speech and language therapy service provision at Taughmonagh Primary School.

(i) The Committee noted correspondence of 2 April 2009 from the Minister of Education in response to a request from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister requesting information on the Department of education’s proposed actions to focus on young males from areas of deprivation.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Minister’s correspondence to the OFMdFM Committee.

(j) The Committee noted correspondence of 7 April 2009 from the Department of Education acknowledging receipt of a letter from the Committee on the ‘Review of Community Relations Policy – Cultural Traditions Programme’.

(k) The Committee noted correspondence of 8 April 2009 from the Department of Education on education provision across the Education and Library Boards for children with cerebral palsy.

(l) The Committee noted correspondence of 6 April 2009 from the Department of Education advising it was forwarding a Committee query on Portrush Catering College to the Department of Employment and Learning for a response.

(m) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 29 March 2009 from the Minister of Education to the South Eastern Secondary Heads Association on Transfer 2010.

Agreed – that the Committee would write to the Minister to request clarification on the opening paragraph of the letter.

(n) The Committee noted correspondence of 7 April 2009 from the Southern Education and Library Board regarding a meeting being arranged to discuss issues of concern on a development proposal to close Aghavilly Primary School.

Agreed – the Committee would write to SE&LB to request a further update after the meeting has been held.

(o) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 2 April 2009 from the Minister of Education to Lagan College on new accomodation facilities for the College.

(p) The Committee noted correspondence of 10 April 2009 from Advice NI requesting an opportunity to present to the Committee on a paper regarding Free School Meals.

Agreed – That Advice NI would be invited to meet informally with the Committee.

(q) The Committee noted correspondence of 15 April 2009 from the Department of Education regarding the application form within the DE School Governor Recruitment booklet.

(r) The Committee noted correspondence of 15 April 2009 from NEE&LB enclosing a copy of their response to the DE consultation document ‘Draft Guidance Transfer Procedure 2010 – Post Primary School Admission for 2010/11 School Year’.

Agreed – that the Committee would write to the Department of Education to request a summary of all the consultation responses and briefing from officials on the Department’s way forward with Transfer 2010 Guidance no later than 2 weeks after the consultation closes.

4. Correspondence

Miss McIlveen joined the meeting at 10.11am
Mr J O’ Dowd joined the meeting at 10.11am
Mr T Elliott joined the meeting at 10.12am

(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 30 March 2009 from the British Medical Association on obesity.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the correspondence to the Department of Education requesting a response to the specific issues raised.

(b) The Committee noted an invitation from the London Mathematical Society and the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications to the award of the inaugural Christopher Zeeman Medal Lecture for the Promotion of Mathematics to the Public on 9 June 2009, London.

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

(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 3 April 2009 from the Committee of the Environment on briefing it had from the BT Chief Sustainability Officer.

Agreed – the Committee would forward this correspondence to the Department of Education to request a response to the issues raised.

(d) The Committee noted an invitation from the British Council to attend ‘Challenges in Schools Project – Showcase Event’ on 23 April 2009, in Queen’s University Belfast.

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

(e) The Committee noted a Press Release from Queen’s University Belfast on a series of lunchtime lectures being held during April and May 2009 on current issues being faced by the education sector.

Agreed - Members would advise Committee staff if they wish to attend any of these lectures.

(f) The Committee noted correspondence from the Audit Committee on International Financial Reporting Standards.

Agreed – the Committee would ask the Department of Education to provide briefing on its preparations on International Financial Reporting Standards as part of the Education Budget briefing scheduled for 13 May 2009.

(g) The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel enclosing the finalised Hansard transcript from the Committee’s meeting on 11 March 2009 in relation to Varney II and Strategic Economic Issues.

(h) The Committee noted an invitation from the Youth Council NI to the NI Youth Awards event on 6 May 20009, Belfast.

Agreed - Members would advise Committee staff if they are available to attend this event.

(i) The Committee noted the March 2009 edition of the Equality Focus Newsletter from the Equality Commission NI.

(j) The Committee noted correspondence of 6 April 2009 from STOP inviting the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson to attend a presentation of its petition on transfer to post primary schools. The Committee noted that the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson met with STOP’s representatives before today’s Committee meeting to receive the petition.

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

(k) The Committee noted the Department of Education policy document ‘Schools for the Future: A Policy for Sustainable Schools’.

(l) The Committee noted information from Lifelong Learning UK NI on the Launch of the Northern Ireland Professional Standards for Learning Delivery on 6 May 2009 in Belfast.

(m) The Committee noted correspondence from St Malachy’s Primary School, Bangor on capital development in the school’s estate.

Agreed – the Committee would forward this correspondence to the Department of Education for a response to the issues raised.

(n) The Committee noted an invitation to the Parents Advice Centre NI 30 th Anniversary Conference on 22 May 2009, Belfast.

Agreed - Members would advise Committee staff if they wish to attend this conference.

(o) The Committee noted correspondence of 17 April 2009 from St Mary’s Primary School, Granemore on a request for temporary variation in enrolment numbers for September 2009.

Agreed – the Committee would forward this correspondence to the Department of Education for a response to the issues raised.

(p) The Committee noted correspondence of 17 April 2009 on the work of the Prince’s Trust and a request to a meet with the Committee.

Agreed – a Member of the Committee would meet with representatives of the Trust on behalf of the Committee and report back.

(q) The Committee noted two Press Releases of 21 April 2009 entitled ‘Minister Announces Closure of Benburb Primary School’ and ‘Ruane – Good Governance Leads to Good Schools’.

(r) The Committee noted correspondence of 21 April 2009 from the NI Youth Forum requesting an opportunity to make a presentation to the Committee.

Agreed – That NI Youth Forum would be invited to meet informally with the Committee.

(s) The Committee noted an invitation from Early Years to the World Forum on Early Care and Education Conference to be held on 16-19 June 2009, Belfast and to offer briefing to the Committee on the World Forum.

Agreed – that Early Years and representatives from the Early Years statutory body would be invited to meet informally with the Committee.

5. Education Bill – Evidence Sessions
(a) Transferor Representatives’ Council (TRC)

Reverend R Herron, Chairman of Transferor Representatives’ Council, Reverend T Gribben, Reverend J T Jamieson and Reverend I W Ellis, TRC Members joined the meeting at 10.22am.

The witnesses gave a presentation on the Education Bill and answered questions from members on a number of issues including: the TRC vision and concerns that equality legislation is not being applied consistently to all sectors within the education system; membership of councillors on ESA; the right of the TRC to be represented on the ownership body and sectoral body for controlled schools; whether statutory bodies should be representative of the communities which they serve, the powers and responsibilities of the ownership and sectoral bodies; the need for the controlled sector to strengthen its representation role for the controlled sector; the historical context for the original transfer of school ownership from Church to State; linkage between ownership body and sectoral support body; concerns about the consultative role of sectoral support body; concerns about area planning role of ownership body; concerns regarding devolving responsibility for raising standards to Boards of Governors; professional support and training requirement for Boards of Governors; current statutory provision for guaranteed representation of TRC on Education and Library Boards; concerns regarding the lack of inspection of religious education within controlled schools; the ethos of controlled schools; centralisation of support services under the ESA and potential loss of local knowledge and contact.

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 11.49am.

(b) Department of Education’s Response to TRC’s comments/concerns

Chris Stewart, Head of Review of Public Administration joined the meeting at 11.50am.

Mr McCausland left the meeting at 11.50am

Mr Stewart responded to the TRC’s written submission on the Bill, including its response to the Department of Education on Policy Paper 20 and answered questions from members on a number of issues including: the continuing lack of progress by the Department to address concerns about the representation of the controlled sector; provisions for comparable controlled sector representative rights in the new arrangements proposed in the Bill; the current legislative provision for controlled sector representation; perception that equality legislation is being ‘used against’ one sector; strengthening the consultative arrangements between the ownership body and the sectoral support body; required legislative amendment to Section 6 of the NI Act to allow TRC representation on the ownership body; the legislative provision allowing Councillors to be appointed as members of ESA; consideration of the option to retain an element of the Education and Library Boards legislative provisions to become the ownership body for the controlled sector; how to achieve parity of esteem between school sectors; ‘perceived’ or ‘actual’ advantages regarding ownership; ensuring the preservation of controlled sector Protestant/Christian ethos; strengthening the statutory linkages between the ownership body and the sectoral support body; the limited powers and influence of the non-statutory support bodies;

Mr McCausland rejoined the meeting at 12.13pm

Whether a statutory body can be made to be reflective of the community it serves or the entire community; the timeliness of the current recruitment of the ESA Chair; timescale for recruitment of ESA Board; whether the Minister will give further consideration to the size and composition of the ESA membership.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Stewart for an informative briefing and he left the meeting at 12.51pm.

Agreed – the Committee would provide copies of the Department of Education’s response paper to TRC. The Chairperson advised that the TRC will have a right to reply and are welcome to respond to the Committee on the Department’s paper.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education highlighting some of the key issues raised and to remind officials to provide the following information requested during the course of this Committee meeting discussions:

  • Whether it would be possible to establish a statutory body whose composition is reflective of the community it serves.
  • Whether an amendment to Section 6 of the NI Act could be restricted to apply only to the issue of TRC’s right of representation on the ownership body.
  • Further consideration of the retention of an element of the Education and Library Boards to become the ownership body for controlled/public sector.
  • Further information on the strengthening of statutory linkages between the ownership body and the sectoral support body.
  • Further consideration on the size and composition of the ESA Board.
6. Department Policy Briefing on Every School a Good School – School Improvement

Katrina Godfrey, Head of Raising Standards Division joined the meeting at 12.52pm.

Ms Godfrey gave a presentation on Department policy briefing on Every School a Good School – School Improvement and answered questions from members on a number of issues including; when the Committee would have a summary of responses received on the draft policy document; whether there was movement towards standardised measures of performance in schools using standardised reporting systems; roles and responsibilities of Boards of Governors, schools, the Inspectorate, ESA and the Department; identifying the key differences between the current and previous edition of the policy document; quality assurance of teacher assessment of literacy and numeracy; benefit of involvement in PISA and extension of the use of INCAS; characteristics of a successful school.

Mr O’Dowd left the meeting at 1.04pm

The Chairperson thanked Ms Godfrey for an informative briefing and she left the meeting at 1.19pm.

7. Department Policy Briefing on Early Years 0 – 6 Strategy

Louise Warde Hunter, Head of Early Years, Youth and School Finance Division and Marilyn Warren, Early Years, Youth and School Finance Division joined the meeting at 1.20pm.

The officials gave a presentation updating the Committee on the Department’s work to finalise the Early Years 0 – 6 Strategy and answered questions from members on a number of issues including: the timescale for the finalisation and launch of the consultation of the Strategy; the cost of implementing the Strategy; whether the Department had the resources to implement the Strategy; resource commitment from OFMdFM and DHSS&PS to implement the Strategy; addressing the conflict between pre-school and nursery school provision; funding for transformation training.

Mr Elliott left the meeting at 1.34pm 
Mr McCrea left the meeting at 1.34pm

The Chairperson thanked the officials for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 1.35pm.

8. Forward Work Programme

The Committee agreed the updated forward work programme.

The Chairperson reminded members that the informal meeting with Autism NI is scheduled for Tuesday, 28 April at 2.30pm in Room 29, and the informal lunch with the Spirit of Enniskillen Trust is to take place at the conclusion of next week’s meeting on Wednesday, 29 April in Room 29.

9. Any Other Business

A Member raised concerns regarding the costs involved in the production of Department of Education documents in both English and Irish languages. It was agreed (two Members dissented) that the Committee would write to the Department of Education to request the following information:

  • How many documents have been produced in bilingual format; the cost of publishing these documents bilingually; and the additional postage costs involved in distribution.
  • By comparison, the costs of producing English only versions of documents, with a smaller number of Irish versions for those who request these.
10. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The Committee agreed that the next meeting of the Committee would be held on Wednesday 29 April 2009 at 10.00am in Room 144, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.39 pm.

Mr Dominic Bradley 
Deputy Chairperson, Committee for Education
29 April 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