Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 03 March 2010

Venue: Room 21, Parliament Buildings

The Chairperson opened the meeting at 2.06pm in public session.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Minutes of the Meeting of 17 February 2010

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 17 February 2010.

3. Matters Arising

(a) The Committee noted the Clerk’s paper on the Education Capital Budget 2010-11 and attached copy of the Department of Education’s briefing paper on the ‘Schools Estate – Capital Programme’ as requested by the Committee at its meeting on 17 February 2010.

(b) The Committee noted correspondence of 17 February 2010 from the AEP Forum enclosing its submission on the Department of Education SEN and Inclusion Consultation Review.

(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 8 February 2010 from Holy Trinity Primary School and Cookstown Primary School on the Schools’ Community Relations Programme for 2010/2011.

Agreed – the Committee would forward a recent item of correspondence from the Department of Education on this subject to both schools for information.

(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 22 February 2010 from the Department of Education advising it is working on a Department response on correspondence from Ms L Sanders regarding an internal audit report on security of data in NDPBs and schools.

Mr McCrea joined the meeting at 2.10pm.
Mr McCallister joined the meeting at 2.10pm.

(e) The Committee noted correspondence of 23 February 2010 from the Department of Education responding to SNAG’s submission on the Review of Special Educational Needs and Inclusion.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to Ms Eimer Cleland for information. The Committee also agreed to consider SNAG’s request to make a presentation to the Committee when it is considering the Department’s analysis of responses to the consultation and proposals for the way forward.

Mr Bradley left the meeting at 2.11pm.

(f) The Committee noted correspondence of 24 February 2010 from the Department of Education on the future funding of Nurture Group provision within schools across Northern Ireland.

Agreed – the Committee would forward a copy of the Department’s letter to Nurture Network for information.

(g) The Committee noted a paper of 24 February 2010 from the Department of Education Finance Division on the December 2009 and January 2010 forecast outturn returns to DFP for DE.

(h) The Committee noted a copy of the Department of Education’s correspondence of 4 December 2009 responding to anecdotal evidence of a decline in the number of pupils in receipt of statements of Special Educational Needs.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the SEELB to ask for an explanation of the decline in the number of new statements in that Board area over the last 4 academic years.

Agreed– the Committee would schedule a presentation from representatives of SENCOs within the Committee’s forward work programme.

(i) The Committee noted correspondence of 25 February 2010 from the Department of Education providing a response to the Committee for Culture Arts and Leisure on its inquiry into participation in sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland.

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

(j) The Committee noted correspondence of 25 February 2010 from the Department of Education providing further information in relation to its draft policy on Community Relations, Equality and Diversity in Education.

(k) The Committee noted correspondence of 23 February 2010 from the Department of Education responding to a letter from the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure on the promotion of townland names.

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

(l) The Committee noted correspondence of 26 February 2010 from the Department of Education confirming that legislative change is not required to withdraw funding to preparatory departments and that the Minister does not consider such a change as being subject to Executive approval.

Agreed – the Committee would seek legal advice on whether this change is permissible in accordance with Part II, Article 4 (6-8) of the Education and Libraries (NI) Order 2003 and whether such a proposal could be regarded as a controversial matter as per section 20 (4) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (as amended).

Ms O’Neill joined the meeting at 2.25pm.

(m) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 25 February 2010 from the Minister of Education to the Committee for Regional Development regarding community transport.

(n) The Committee noted correspondence of 1 March 2010 from the All Party Group (APG) on Autism seeking comments on the proposed Autism Bill (NI) 2010.

Agreed – that the Committee will consider this matter further when it has received the feedback on the outcome of the meeting between APG and the Department of Education.

(o) The Committee noted NICCE’s Post Primary review document ‘Catholic Education for All – Shaping the future of Post-primary Catholic education’.

(p) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 25 February 2010 from the Minster of Education to the Principals of Omagh County Primary School and Loreto Convent Primary School on the future of the Schools Community Relations Programme.

4. Correspondence

(a) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of February 2010 from Parents’ Education as Autism Therapists (PEAT) to the Minister for Education on the Middletown Centre for Autism.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to request that it is copied the Minister’s response to PEAT.

(b) The Committee noted INTO’s 142nd Annual Congress 2010 Northern Committee Report.

(c) The Committee noted the Department of Education’s Press Release of 17 February 2010 entitled ‘Minister congratulates Head Teachers of the future’.

(d) The Committee noted CiNI’s February 2010online Newsletter.

(e) The Committee noted the Department of Education’s Press Release of 18 February 2010 entitled ‘Decision on the establishment of a Nursery Unit al All Children’s Integrated Primary School’.

(f) The Committee noted an invitation from NICIE to the Chairperson to attend the launch of Integrated Education Week on 1 March 2010 in Parliament Buildings.

(g) The Committee noted the Spring 2010 Buttle Bulletin from the Frank Buttle Trust.

(h) The Committee noted the Department of Education’s Press Release of 23 February 2010 entitled ‘Ruane commends YouthAction success in helping marginalised young women’.

(i) The Committee noted correspondence of 19 February 2010 from Environmental Link enclosing ‘Policy Priorities for Northern Ireland’s Environment – The Way Ahead 2010 Review’.

(j) The Committee noted the Department of Education’s Press Release of 24 February 2010 entitled ‘Ministers North and South working together to raise standards in numeracy’.

(k) The Committee noted an invitation from Capita Conferences to Capita’s 6th National Children Missing Education Conference on 23 April 2010 in Manchester.

(l) The Committee noted an invitation from Capita Conferences to Capita’s 4th Tackling Anti-Social Behaviour in Schools Conference on 24 March 2010 in London.

(m) The Committee noted correspondence of 19 February 2010 from CCMS requesting an opportunity to brief the Committee as part of the Northern Ireland Commission for Catholic Education (NICCE) Post Primary Review Initial Consultation.

Agreed – the Committee would request briefing from CCMS and NICCIE to be scheduled in the Committee’s forward work programme for 24 March 2010.

(n) The Committee noted correspondence of 23 February 2010 from Mrs Karen Carrigan on preparatory department funding.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Mrs Carrigan’s letter to the Department of Education for a response to the issues raised.

(o) The Committee noted correspondence of 20 February 2010 from Mrs Nichola McCrea on preparatory department funding.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Mrs McCrea’s letter to the Department of Education for a response to the issues raised.

(p) The Committee noted the Department of Education’s Press Release of 26 February 2010 entitled ‘Ruane praises leadership of teacher unions’.

(q) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 25 February 2010 from the Stroke Association of Northern Ireland to the Minister of Finance and Personnel regarding the Review of the 2010-11 Spending Plans for Northern Ireland Departments.

(r) The Committee noted the Department of Education’s Press Release of 1 March 2010 entitled ‘Ruane welcomes Commission review on post-primary education’.

(s) The Committee noted correspondence of 24 February 2010 from the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly to all Committee Chairs regarding the production of a documentary-style television series on the work of the Assembly.

(t) The Committee noted correspondence of 28 February 2010 from Keith and Moyra Ward on preparatory department funding.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Mr and Mrs Ward’s letter to the Department of Education for a response to the issues raised.

(u) The Committee noted an invitation from Northern Ireland Ombudsman to the launch of a commemorative booklet to mark the 40th Anniversary of the Office of the Northern Ireland Ombudsman on 24 March 2010 in its offices in Belfast.

(v) The Committee noted correspondence of 1 March 2010 from Mrs Julie Rainey on preparatory department funding.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Mrs Rainey’s letter to the Department of Education for a response to the issues raised.

(w) The Committee noted the Department of Education’s Press Release of 2 March 2010 entitled ‘Education Minister addresses law students’.

(x) The Committee noted the Department of Education’s Press Release of 2 March 2010 entitled ‘Education Minister announces new Irish-medium nursery unit at Bunscoil an tSléibhe’.

(y) The Committee noted the Department of Education’s Press Release of 2 March 2010 entitled ‘Ruane helps human rights education to Lift Off’.

(z) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 2 March 2010 from the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure to the Minister of Education regarding the Cultural Traditions Programme.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure’s letter to the Minister of Education as requested.

(aa) The Committee noted the Department of Education’s Press Release of 2 March 2010 entitled ‘Current education administration is not sustainable – Ruane’.

(bb) The Committee noted correspondence of 1 March 2010 from Down High School on preparatory department funding.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the School’s letter to the Department of Education for a response to the issues raised.

(cc) The Committee noted a copy of a letter of 2 March 2010 from the Committee for Employment and Learning to the Minister of Education on its Inquiry into young people aged 16 to 24 not in education, employment or training.

Agreed – the Committee would request it is copied the Minister’s response to the Committee for Employment and Learning.

5. Presentation from the Northern Ireland Primary Principals’ Action Group on Primary School Funding

Ronnie Milligan, Cregagh PS, Martin Short, Holy Child PS, David McCartney, Brooklands PS, and Steven Moor, Academy PS joined the meeting at 2.42pm. 
The witnesses provided briefing on primary school funding and answered questions from Members on a number of issues, including: an explanation of the EYF surplus for primary schools which is in the region of £30 million; the management of primary school surplus monies; how funding pressures impact upon special needs provision within primary schools; whether the Principals’ Action Group accept there should be any difference in the average per pupil funding between primary and post-primary; the potential for primary schools to share the services of a bursar; the difference between staff/pupil ratios in nursery and primary schools; the percentage of staff budget costs; the funding gap between primary and post-primary education; the necessity for, and examples of how primary schools raise additional funds; the cost of educating a child in primary school; the wider funding pressures on the Education Budget; whether the Group can identify where savings in the education budget can be made; the need for rationalisation and consideration of a single school system; how improved funding of primary schools would assist with the raising of standards in literacy and numeracy; and the consideration of whether schools should be funded by institution or by pupil.

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 4.17pm.

6. Department of Education Briefing on Primary School Funding & Common Funding Formula

John McGrath, Deputy Secretary, Catherine Daly, Director of Finance, Roisin Lilley, School Finance Branch joined the meeting at 4.20pm.

Mr McCallister left the meeting at 4.32pm.

The officials provided briefing on primary school funding and answered questions from Members on a number of issues, including: confirmation that the Department are undertaking a comprehensive Review of the Common Funding Formula (CFF); that the Committee still awaits the terms of reference and criteria set out for the Review of the CFF; whether there has been a ‘piece meal’ approach by the Department in determining its funding to schools; whether there is further scope to move ear-marked funding into delegated funding within the CFF; the impact of policy reforms upon financial considerations within the Education budget; the primary/post-primary funding gap; the differential in the AWPU rate between nursery, primary and post-primary schools; other funding sources going into primary schools; why there is such a difference between funding provision for nursery and primary school pupils; the actual cost of educating children in primary and post-primary education; when the schools will be advised of their budgets for the next financial years and the timing of the budget allocations for 2010/11; nursery school funding;

Ms McIlveen left the meeting at 4.54pm.

when consultation with the education sectors on the comprehensive Review of the Common Funding Formula will take place; whether the Department have any plans to review the amount and use of surpluses held by some primary schools; whether the Department has looked at the cost implications of development proposals; how much of the education budget is not delegated directly to schools and is retained at the centre; the overall percentage of the primary school budget that is based on AWPU; the timescale and delay in relation to the implementation of the comprehensive Review of the CFF; and the complexity of the current CFF.

The Chairperson thanked the officials for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 5.25pm.

Mr Lunn left the meeting at 5.25pm.

Agreed – the Committee would request further information on the role of special educational needs teachers in mainstream primary schools.

7. Department of Education Briefing on Convergence Delivery Plan

John McGrath, Deputy Secretary, and Eugene Rooney, Head of Investment and Infrastructure Division joined the meeting at 5.27pm.

The officials provided a brief synopsis on the convergence delivery plan (CDP) and noted questions from Members on a number of issues which they agreed to substantively address at next week’s meeting, including: whether each Education and Library Board will have to take a decision in relation to the implementation of the CDP’s specific programmes of action; the timescales for implementation of the CDP’s programmes of action; to whom the Directors designate are accountable; how there can be robust governance arrangements in the absence of elected representatives on the Boards; whether the Boards are properly and legally constituted without elected representation; whether the Teacher Appointment Committees can operate without elected representatives on the Boards; whether the Department will share the legal advice it has received on the subject of the functioning of the Boards without elected representatives in relation to Schedule 2 of the 1986 Order; what the target savings are associated with the various programmes of action in the CDP; clarification of roles and responsibilities; levels of consultation with the Boards; clarification of the authority of the ESA Chair designate and his relationship with the Chief Executives of the Boards; how the consultation process on the CDP can be carried out when it is not the expressed preference of the Executive; and whether the CDP has become the Department’s preferred option.

Ms O’Neill left the meeting at 5.38pm.
Mr Bradley left the meeting at 5.40pm.

The Chairperson thanked the officials for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 5.52pm.

8. Forward Work Programme

The Committee noted the amended Forward Work Programme.

9. Any Other Business

The Chairperson advised Members that he had attended the INTO Conference on 26 February 2010, during which ‘The Northern Ireland Teachers’ Health and Wellbeing Survey’ was discussed and the Chairperson was advised that no action in relation to the Report has taken place since the Report’s publication in December 2002.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to ask for an update on the actions of the Department in relation to this Survey Report.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 5.53pm.

Mr Mervyn Storey
Chairperson, Committee for Education
10 March 2010

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