Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Venue: Room 21, Parliament Buildings

The Chairperson opened the meeting at 2.08pm in public session.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Minutes of the Meeting of 10 February 2010

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 10 February 2010.

3. Matters Arising

The Committee noted correspondence of 27 January 2010 from the Department of Education providing information requested on Literacy and Numeracy Outcomes and Pupil Performance and Attainment.

The Committee noted correspondence of 8 February 2010 from Professor Roger Woods, QUB and member of the STEM Panel providing statistics relating to the lifetime earnings of engineers versus other professionals.

The Committee noted correspondence of 9 February 2010 from Ms Lisa Saunders regarding the Minister for Education’s Statement to the Assembly on Sparklebox on 8 February 2010 and the delay in response to her correspondence with Dromore Central Primary School.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to request clarification on a DE Press Statement relating to Sparklebox and on Ms Saunders’ outstanding correspondence with Dromore Central Primary School.

The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 9 February 2010 from the Minister for Education to Mr Robert Greer on politics and bureaucracy in education.

The Committee noted correspondence of 9 February from the South Eastern Education and Library Board regarding the retention of the I-CAN Early Years Centre at Ballynahinch Primary School.
Agreed – the Committee would consider the I-CAN Centre as a reference point when looking at the draft Early Years Strategy.

The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 9 February 2010 from the Minister for Education to Mr Aiden Corrigan BL on the Review of Special Educational Needs and Inclusion.

The Committee noted correspondence of 11 February 2010 from the Department of Education responding to a suggestion for the establishment of a Parents’ Forum on SEN Provision.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Minister for Education to request further consideration of the establishment of a Parents’ Forum.
Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s correspondence to Mr Ken Stacey for information and advise him of the Committee’s further action on this.

The Committee noted correspondence of 11 February 2010 from the Department of Education on NITC’s further response regarding the proposals set out in the SEN and Inclusion Review Consultation.

The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 8 February 2010 from the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety to the Minister for Education regarding its Inquiry into Obesity.
Agreed –the Committee would forward the Health Committee’s letter to the Minister for Education as requested and ask that it be copied the Minister’s response.

4. Literacy and Numeracy Taskforce Presentation

Sir Robert Salisbury, Andy McMorran, Marie McGinn, and Eemer Eivers joined the meeting at 2.24pm.

The witnesses provided briefing on the work of the Literacy and Numeracy Taskforce and answered questions from Members on a number of issues, including: concerns regarding the delay in the Committee’s receipt of the Taskforce Report; whether there is a link between the ‘raft’ of new DE policies and the decline in the PISA scores of Northern Ireland students; sharing good practice; how ‘statistical pairs’ would work together; developing a positive learning culture within schools;

Ms McIlveen joined the meeting at 2.56pm.
Mr McCallister joined the meeting at 2.59pm.

how the ‘literacy/numeracy’ thread runs throughout all school subjects; the delay in the establishment of an all schools baseline database; working in partnership with parents and the wider community; the importance of the influence of parents on their children’s learning; the requirement for attitudinal change towards literacy and numeracy, including media; teacher training; the impact of the delay in the introduction of ESA; focus on outcomes not inputs and targeted funding; the importance of Extended Schools provision; motivating pupils, parents and teachers; bureaucracy in education; current literacy and numeracy strategies in place in each of the Board areas;

Mr Ross joined the meeting at 3.32pm.

the importance of strong risk-taking leadership; the revised curriculum; the importance of early intervention and targeting Early Years provision; progress on the Taskforce work programme 2009; how the Taskforce has influenced the draft Literacy and Numeracy Strategy; methods of teaching; the impact of the Transfer process on subjects being taught in years 6 and 7; the role of the Education and Training Inspectorate; and whether the Taskforce will have an input into the Review of the Common Funding Formula in relation to targeting funding towards literacy and numeracy.

Mr McCrea joined the meeting at 4.23pm.
Mr Lunn left the meeting at 4.25pm.

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 4.33pm.

5. Matters Arising (Continued)

The Committee noted correspondence of 12 February 2010 from the Department of Education providing details and an explanation of clawback monies in the maintained sector.
Agreed – the Committee would request further information from the Department of Education on the breakdown of clawback monies from the maintained and voluntary grammar sectors.

The Committee noted correspondence of 12 February 2010 from the Department of Education regarding the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment’s draft Tourism Strategy for Northern Ireland.
Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

The Committee noted correspondence from the Speaker enclosing a response from the Minister for Education to the public petition presented by Mr Dominic Bradley MLA on 26 January 2010 on Special Educational Needs and Inclusion.

The Committee noted correspondence of 16 February 2010 from the Department of Education regarding the progress of the development of the new Community Relations, Equality and Diversity (CRED) Policy.
Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to Speedwell Trust for information.

6. Correspondence

The Committee noted correspondence of 10 February 2010 from the Chairperson of the NI Specialist Schools Principals Forum Steering Group requesting an opportunity to meet with the Committee.
Agreed – that the Committee would arrange for briefing from this Group at a future meeting.
Agreed – the Committee would forward the Steering Group’s correspondence to the Department of Education for a response to the issues raised.

The Committee noted a Department of Education Press Release of 10 February 2010 entitled ‘Irish-medium education goes from strength to strength - Ruane.’

The Committee noted a Department of Education Press Release of 11 February 2010 entitled ‘Education Minister clarifies capital budget.’
Agreed – the Committee would revisit the Department of Education Capital Budget document of 9 December 2009 at its next meeting.

The Committee noted a Department of Education Press Release of 15 February 2010 entitled ‘Inspectors underline schools’ success in raising children’s environmental awareness.’

The Committee noted correspondence of 15 February 2010 from the Participation Network on how it can support the Education Committee in considering the views of children and young people in its decision making process.

The Committee noted correspondence of 15 February 2010 from the Committee for Employment and Learning seeking the Department of Education’s view on the use of automated communications systems with their external customers.
Agreed – the Committee would forward this correspondence to the Department of Education as requested.

The Committee noted a Department of Education Press Release of 16 February 2010 entitled ‘No return to testing of children - Ruane.’

The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 16 February 2010 from Ms Dolores Kelly MLA to the Deputy Chairperson on the position of the school’s estate, and in particular the situation of St Teresa’s Primary School in Lurgan.
Agreed – the Committee would forward Ms Kelly’s letter to the Department of Education for comment on the policy and specific issues raised.

The Committee noted an invitation from Belfast Health Cities to the first lecture in a series of events hosted by BHC entitled ‘Health and Health Equity in All Local Policies: Reality or Aspiration’ on 22 February 2010 in Belfast Castle.

7. Statutory Rule – Schools Admissions (Exceptional Circumstances) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010

The Committee considered The Schools Admissions (Exceptional Circumstances) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010, noting that the Examiner of Statutory Rules has reported no issues with this proposed Rule.

Question put and agreed:

That the Committee for Education has considered Statutory Rule 2010 No.19 The Schools Admissions (Exceptional Circumstances) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010, and has no objection to the rule.

8. Forward Work Programme

The Committee discussed and agreed the programme for the Committee’s visit to Longstone Special School on Wednesday, 24 February 2010.

The Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson, Mrs Bradley, Mr McCallister, Mr McCrea, Miss McIlveen, Mr O’Dowd, and Mr Ross confirmed their availability to attend the Longstone School visit.

The Chairperson confirmed that a briefing from the Primary Schools Principals Group followed by a briefing from Departmental officials on the funding position on primary schools and the Review of the Common Funding Formula has been scheduled for the Committee’s meeting of 3 March 2010.

9. Any Other Business

The Committee discussed a draft Press Release on the Committee’s Response to the Department of Education on the SEN and Inclusion Review Consultation.

Agreed – the Committee agreed that the Press Release could be issued.

The Chairperson advised that he had attended the launch of the findings from the Kids’ Life and Times Survey conducted by ARK at Ballymena Primary School and was concerned about the survey findings in relation to bullying.

Agreed – that the Committee would consider whether it requests ARK to make a presentation to the Committee on its work and on the surveys that it carries out in relation to education.

Agreed – the Committee would ask the Department for an update on its position in relation to the issue of bullying.

Agreed – the Clerk would inquire about OFMDFM’s responsibility in relation to the issue of children bullying other children and the role of the Department Advocates for Children.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 4.48pm.

Mr Mervyn Storey
Chairperson, Committee for Education
24 February 2010

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