Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Venue: Room 144, Parliament Buildings

The Deputy Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.16am in closed session.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Legal Advice

Members received briefing from the Assistant Legal Advisor to the Assembly.

Mr McCausland joined the meeting at 10.18am.
Mr Elliott joined the meeting at 10.26am.
Mr McCrea joined the meeting at 10.34am.
Mr Poots joined the meeting at 10.36am.

Agreed – the Committee would consider the legal advice further at the next meeting.

The meeting moved into public session.

3. Minutes of the Meeting of 22 April 2009

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 22 April 2009.

4. Matters Arising

(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 22 April 2009 from the Department of Education on additional information on Budget Briefing and February Monitoring.

(b) The Committee noted correspondence of 24 April 2009 from the Department of Education on funding for Traditional Arts and Budget Allocations to Schools and Education and Library Boards.

(c) The Committee noted a research paper from Assembly Research and Library Services on Religious Ethos in Schools in Scotland, England and Wales and the Republic of Ireland.

Agreed – the Committee would consider this paper at a future meeting.

(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 24 April 2009 from St Comgall’s Support Group on a CCMS Development proposal.

(e) The Committee noted correspondence of 25 February 2009 from the Minister of Education to the Chairperson of the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure regarding the Arts Council’s Cultural Traditions Programme.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to request that the Committee is advised of the outcome of the Review of Community Relations.

(f) The Committee noted correspondence of 28 April 2009 from the Department of Education enclosing the overview of consultation responses document and the finalised policy document ‘Every School a Good School – A Policy for School Improvement’.

(g) The Committee noted an invitation from the Minister of Education to the launch of ‘Every School a Good School: A Policy for School Improvement’ on 30 April 2009 in St Malachy’s High School in Castlewellan.

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

(h) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 22 April 2009 from the Minister of Education to the Committee for Employment and Learning on the Legislative Consent Motion for the Apprenticeships, Children, Skills and Learning Bill.

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

(i) The Committee noted correspondence of 22 April 2009 from the Minister of Education to the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure on the Review of Community Relations.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Minister’s correspondence to the Committee for Culture Arts and Leisure.

(j) The Committee noted correspondence of 28 April 2009 from the Minister of Education to the Committee for Employment and Learning regarding the ‘STEM Experience’ Event.

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

5. Correspondence

(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 1 April 2009 from Mr Glenn Simpson regarding teachers’ pensions.

Agreed – that the Committee would forward Mr Simpson’s correspondence to the Department of Education for a response to the issues raised.

(b) The Committee noted an invitation from BT to the launch of the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition 2010 on 6 May 2009 at the Odyssey Arena, Belfast.

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

(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 23 April 2009 from the Department of Education enclosing for consultation an Equality Impact Assessment of the Transfer 2010 Guidance.

Agreed – the Committee would seek legal advice on the equality implications regarding the ‘pupils receiving free school meals’ recommended first criterion of the proposed admissions criteria for Transfer 2010, and in addition, for pupils who are disabled with the current pre-school admissions criteria.

(d) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 22 April 2009 from Dr Kieran Deeny MLA to the Minister of Education regarding Music Tutors’ Pay.

Agreed – that the Committee would forward Dr Deeny’s correspondence to the Department of Education for a response to the issues raised.

Miss McIlveen left the meeting at 11.00am

(e) The Committee noted correspondence of 24 April 2009 from the Ulster-Scots Education Forum requesting they make a presentation to the Committee on a report they are producing on the role of Ulster-Scots culture in education.

Following discussion regarding the considerable demands on limited committee time due to similar requests from other groups, a proposal was put by Mr McCausland and seconded by Mr Lunn.

Question put: That the Ulster-Scots Education Forum are invited to make a presentation to the Committee for Education on a report they are producing on the role of Ulster-Scots culture in education.

The Committee divided, Ayes 5; Noes 2.

AYES

Mr Elliott, Mr Lunn, Mr McCausland, Mr McCrea, Mr Poots

NOES

Mr O’Dowd, Ms O’Neill

The proposal accordingly was carried.

(f) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence forwarded by Mr Jonathan Craig MLA from Methodist College Belfast to all Members of the Assembly objecting to the creation of the ESA.

Agreed – that the Committee would write to Mr Craig MLA to advise that the issues raised in the correspondence from Methodist College are currently being considered by the Committee in its scrutiny of the Education Bill.

(g) The Committee noted a Press Release of 28 April 2009 from the Department of Education entitled Full Service School Network goes Live in West Belfast.

Mr McCausland left the meeting at 11.02am.

6. Education Bill – Evidence Sessions
(a) General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTC NI)

Sally McKee, Chair, Eddie McArdle, Registrar and Barney Ball, Planning and Corporate Services Manager of GTC NI joined the meeting at 11.03am.

Miss McIlveen rejoined the meeting at 11.05am.

The witnesses gave a presentation on the Education Bill and answered questions from members on a number of issues including: the GTC NI Charter for Education; Clause 29 - the making of associated regulations and the processes of referral; requirement on ESA to seek advice from GTC NI on training and advisory support services; co-ordination of GTC NI disciplinary powers with those of individual Boards of Governors; role of GTC NI in disciplinary cases; whether GTC NI has sought the views of Teachers on the establishment of ESA;

Mr McCausland rejoined the meeting at 11.30am.
Ms O’Neill left the meeting at 11.30am.

responsibility for raising and maintaining standards; opportunities within the ‘mixed economy’ approach for teachers’ professional development; Every School a Good School policy.

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 11.43am.

(b) NIPSA

Alison Millar, Assistant Secretary, Heather McKinstry, Chairperson NIPSA Education Panel, Helena McSherry, Vice-Chairperson, NIPSA Education Panel joined the meeting at 11.44am.

The witnesses gave a presentation on the Education Bill and answered questions from members on a number of issues including: the PPP/PFI methodology for the procurement of the schools estate; NIPSA’s position on ESA efficiency savings; concerns about projected 463 job losses; commitment to no compulsory redundancies; size and composition of the membership of the ESA; whether automatic representation of Trade Unions on the ESA would present a conflict of interest; community/business representation on the ESA; the adverse impact on staff of the prolonged use of vacancy control.

Ms O’Neill rejoined the meeting at 12.12pm.

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 12.19pm.

(c) Department of Education’s Response to GTC and NIPSA comments/concerns

John McGrath, Deputy Secretary and Chris Stewart, Head of Review of Public Administration joined the meeting at 12.20pm.

The officials responded to the GTC NI’s and NIPSA’s written submission on the Bill, and answered questions from members on a number of issues including: how much of the £20 million savings detailed in the outline business case will go to front-line services; the adverse impact on staff of the prolonged use of vacancy control; the treatment of staff with long-term acting up responsibilities; the governance of ESA; ESA as an operational delivery vehicle of Government policy; the purpose of the Bill and whether it is to provide a vision for education provision; whether there is any reason why the Department cannot give assurances that there will be no compulsory redundancies;

Mr Elliott left the meeting at 12.26pm.

The officials agreed to provide a response to the Committee’s correspondence of 19 March on detailing the Committee’s concerns in relation to the Education Bill as soon as possible. Also the Minister will give consideration to a substantive view from the Committee on the size and composition of the membership of ESA. Officials also said that models schemes of employment would be produced in consultation with the Trade Unions.

Mr McCausland left the meeting at 12.40pm.
Mr Poots left the meeting at 12.45pm.
Mr McCrea left the meeting at 12.45pm.
Mr Lunn left the meeting at 12.49pm.

The Chairperson thanked the officials for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 12.50pm.

Agreed – the Committee would provide copies of the Department of Education’s response paper to the GTC and NIPSA. The Chairperson advised that GTC and NIPSA 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:

  • a response to the Committee’s correspondence of 19 March detailing the Committee’s concerns on the Education Bill.
  • An explanation of how efficiency savings have already been used; what the RPA education reform contribution is and what is projected within the CSR period; and what percentage that represents out of the £20 million projected savings.

Mr McCrea rejoined the meeting at 12.51pm.
Mr McCausland rejoined the meeting at 12.51pm.
Mr Lunn rejoined the meeting at 12.51pm.

7. Department Briefing on the draft Teachers’ (Compensation for Redundancy and Premature Retirement) Regulations 2009 and complementing amendments to the Teachers’ Superannuation Regulations (NI) 1998

Mark Mawhinney, Head of Teacher Negotiating & Pensions Policy Branch and Seamus Gallagher, Teacher Negotiating & Pensions Policy Branch joined the meeting at 12.52pm.

The officials gave a presentation on the draft Teachers’ (Compensation for Redundancy and Premature Retirement) Regulations 2009 and complementing amendments to the Teachers’ Superannuation Regulations (NI) 1998 and answered questions from members on a number of issues including: what level of consultation has there been with Teachers, Unions and employer representatives; whether a less drastic measure would have been to tighten up the existing scheme; where employing authorities are going to access future funds for early retirement and redundancy; whether it would have been more prudent to introduce changes in the scheme over a number of years; redeployment arrangements; current contribution levels of employer and employee; necessary increase in employee contributions.

Officials undertook to come back to the Committee on the equality screening exercise and the outcome of the consultation.

The Chairperson thanked the officials for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 1.12pm.

Mr McCausland left the meeting at 1.12pm.

8. Forward Work Programme

The Committee agreed the updated forward work programme.

A Member requested confirmation on when the Committee would be coming to conclusions in relation to the Committee’s views on the Education Bill and formulating a written response to the Department.

The Deputy Chairperson confirmed that the last evidence session will take place on 20 May and that the Committee may wish to conduct a stock taking exercise at that time or sooner. The Deputy Chairperson agreed to consult with the Chairperson and report back to the Committee on this matter next week.

9. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The Committee agreed that the next meeting of the Committee would be held on Wednesday 6 May 2009 at 10.00am in Room 144, Parliament Buildings.

The Deputy Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.15 pm.

Mr Mervyn Storey
Chairperson, Committee for Education
6 May 2009

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