Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Venue: Room 144, Parliament Buildings

The Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.08am in public session.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

Mr Poots joined the meeting at 10.09am.

2. Minutes of the Meeting of 18 February 2009

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 18 February 2009.

Ms O’Neill joined the meeting at 10.10am.

3. Matters Arising

(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 16 February 2009 from the Department of Education on Consultation: The Education (Pupil Records and Reporting) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to request clarification on the contents of the formative record of progress and achievement.

(b) The Committee noted correspondence of 18 February 2009 from the Department of Education on Annual Reporting and Levels of Progression.

(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 17 February 2009 from the Department of Education on Keady Primary School.

Agreed – The Committee would forward the Department of Education’s correspondence to Keady Primary School.

Agreed – that the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson would arrange a meeting with representatives from Keady Primary School’s Board of Governors.

Mr Elliott joined the meeting at 10.13am.

(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 18 February 2009 from the Department of Education on a potential capital scheme in Londonderry Primary School, Newtownards.

Agreed – The Committee would forward the Department of Education’s correspondence to Londonderry Primary School.

(e) The Committee noted correspondence of 18 February 2009 from the Department of Education on home schooling in relation to the Education Bill.

(f) The Committee noted correspondence of 10 February 2009 from the Department of Education acknowledging receipt of a letter from the Committee on Transfer 2010 Guidance.

(g) The Committee noted correspondence of 16 February 2009 from the Department of Education on Anamar Primary School.

Agreed – The Committee would forward the Department of Education’s correspondence to Anamar Primary School.

(h) The Committee noted correspondence of 18 February 2009 from the Minister for Education to the Chairperson of the Committee for Employment and Learning on ‘the eligibility of teachers who have trained in the north to teach in the south of Ireland’.

Agreed – The Committee would forward the Department of Education’s correspondence to the Committee for Employment and Learning.

(i) The Committee noted correspondence from Creative Youth Partnerships (CYP) on the launch of the CYP Advocacy Document in the Long Gallery, Stormont on 25 March 2009.

(j) The Committee noted the invitation to the launch of the CYP publication ‘Inspiring Creativity’.

(k) The Committee noted the attendance list from the STEM event held on 18 February 2009.

(l) The Committee noted the first report of Matrix, Northern Ireland Science Industry Panel.

(m) The Committee noted the correspondence of 20 February 2009 from the Chairperson of the Committee for Education to the Minister of Education on transfer arrangements.

Mr Elliott left the meeting at 10.18am.

4. Correspondence

(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 17 February 2009 from the Chairperson of the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to the Minister of Education on Gender Equality Strategy.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the correspondence to the Minister of Education as requested.

(b) The Committee noted correspondence of 17 February 2009 from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to all Statutory Committees enclosing the Equality Commission Report regarding public authorities who fail to comply with the Disability Discrimination Order 2006 requirement to produce a Disability Action Plan.

(c) The Committee noted correspondence from the NI Anti-Poverty Network enclosing the Anti Poverty News February 2009.

(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 20 February 2009 from the Community Relations Council advising that the magazine ‘CRC News’ will be replaced by a monthly e-bulletin.

(e) The Committee noted correspondence of 11 February 2009 from Our Lady’s and St Mochua’s Primary School on their requirement for an additional classroom.

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

(f) The Committee noted correspondence of 11 February 2009 from the Principals of Beechlawn School, Hillsborough on special education provision.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Principal of Beechlawn School and request a briefing paper on their issues around the provision of special education in advance of inviting representatives to make a presentation to the Committee on their concerns.

(g) The Committee noted correspondence of 23 February 2009 from ‘Love for Life’.

Agreed – the Committee would write to ‘Love for Life to arrange a date before Easter recess to make a presentation to the Committee.

(h) The Committee considered the draft forward work programme and agreed the additional items.

(i) The Committee noted the list of stakeholders who had provided written submissions on the Education Bill to date.

5. Education Bill – Employment Schemes, Schemes of Management, Boards of Governors

Chris Stewart, Head of Review of Public Administration, Jeff Brown and Peter Burns, Review of Public Administration Legislation Team joined the meeting at 10.27am.

Mr Elliott rejoined the meeting at 10.32am.

The officials gave a presentation on Employment Schemes, and answered questions from members on a number of issues including: the provisions within Clause 8 enabling ESA to send back decisions to a Board of Governors and the inclusion of an appeals mechanism; the use of Article 101 of the Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 1986; whether Clause 8 goes against the ethos of RPA by micro-managing schools; whether the schemes of employment under the ESA will differ from any existing schemes; responsibility for Trade Union negotiations; the Department’s proposed amendment to Clause 3 and examples of how the ethos of the school can be reflected in the schemes of management and employment; perceived disparity in treatment of the Controlled sector in comparison to that of the Irish Medium and Maintained sectors; the lack of progress in establishing the sectoral body representing the Controlled Sector resulting in the Sector not being able to influence fundamental issues in the Bill such as the ownership body for controlled schools; ensuring equality within the sectors in education; and determining the intention of the individual clauses of the bill once enacted.

The officials gave a presentation on Schemes of Management, and answered a question on how the new provisions compare to existing provisions.

Mr Poots left the meeting at 11.49am.
Mr Elliott left the meeting at 12.12pm.

The officials gave a presentation on Boards of Governors and answered questions from members on a number of issues including: appointment of community governors; TRC representation on boards of governors; the consultation with existing governors on new appointments; explanation of the duty (within clause 34) on governors ‘to cooperate’ with the ESA; clarification on responsibility for child protection issues; foundation governors; the legislative changes required to ensure that the ownership body responsible for controlled schools is representative of the community that it serves.

Mr Poots rejoined the meeting at 12.18pm.

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and the officials left the meeting at 12.20pm

Agreed – that the Committee would write to the Department of Education highlighting areas of concern and in particular the concern that the intentions of the Bill are not adequately reflected within the detail of the legislation. In addition, to ask the Department to provide information on the legislative changes required to ensure that the Controlled Schools Ownership Body is representative of the community that it serves.

6. Policy on Supporting Newcomer Pupils

Dorothy Angus, Head of Supporting and Safeguarding Children Division and Sharon Lawlor, Supporting and Safeguarding Children Division joined the meeting at 12.23pm.

The officials gave a presentation on the Policy on Supporting Newcomer Pupils and answered questions from members on a number of issues including: whether the numbers of newcomer pupils had decreased due to the recent economic downturn and subsequent job losses; whether there are different statutory entitlements for EU and non EU Newcomer Pupils; the cost of funding the policy; how other educational services such as educational psychology, educational welfare, school libraries etc meet the needs of newcomer pupils; initial teacher training in relation to the needs of newcomer pupils; the Inclusion and Diversity Service; the allocation of funds for newcomer pupils through the common funding formula; the amount of funding allocated to the school for each child, whether there is any graduation of funding, and at what point the funding ceases; guidance on how the funding should be spent, monitoring how it is spent and whether it is ring-fenced for this purpose; the availability of statistical information on the educational performance outcomes of children who do not have English as a first language; the timescale for the production of the Tool Kit on diversity for post primary schools, and the process by which the decision was taken to produce the Tool Kit on a North/South basis and not on a UK wide basis; availability and access to translation services.

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and the officials left the meeting at 1.04pm.

Agreed – that the Committee would write to the Department of Education highlighting the issues raised by the Committee. In addition, to request copies of the primary school Tool Kit, to ask for the reasons for the delay on the production of other Tool Kits, and to ask the Department to detail the process by which the decision was taken to produce the Tool Kits on a North/South basis and not on a UK wide basis.

7. Forward Work Programme

The Committee considered the updated draft Forward Work Programme.

Agreed – that the Committee staff would prepare an index of submissions from stakeholders on the Education Bill for members.

Agreed – that the Committee would consider, at next week’s meeting, which of the stakeholders it wishes to receive oral evidence from.

The Chairperson reminded Members of the informal lunch the Committee is hosting for pupils from Craigavon Area Schools. Agreed - The lunch would be scheduled for Wednesday, 11 March at 12 noon.

8. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The Committee agreed that the next meeting will be held on Wednesday 4 March 2009 at 10.00am in Room 144, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.08pm.

Mr Dominic Bradley
Deputy Chairperson, Committee for Education
4 March 2009

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