Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Venue: Room 21, Parliament Buildings
The Chairperson opened the meeting at 2.01pm in closed session.
1. Budget Briefing
Members discussed the papers for the Budget Briefing session.
Mr O’Dowd and Ms O’Neill joined the meeting at 2.07pm.
The meeting moved to public session at 2.27pm.
Apologies are detailed above.
3. Minutes of the Meeting of 11 November 2009
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 11 November 2009.
4. Matters Arising
(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 4 November 2009 from the Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health further to the Committee’s joint meeting with the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety on 21 October 2009.
(b) The Committee noted correspondence of 11 November 2009 from Unison enclosing its response to the Department of Education’s consultation on SEN and Inclusion Review.
(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 11 November 2009 from the Department of Education regarding the extension to the SEN and Inclusion Review consultation period.
(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 11 November 2009 from the Department of Education on the timescale for the analysis of the consultation responses to the Food in Schools Policy.
(e) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 6 November 2009 from the Minister of Education to Ms L Williamson on premature retirement.
(f) The Committee noted correspondence of 12 November 2009 from the South Eastern Education and Library Board regarding a SEN and Disability Tribunal.
Agreed – the Committee would forward SEELB’s response to Mr Haughan for information.
(g) The Committee noted correspondence of 13 November 2009 from a parent of a child with SEN regarding the SEN and Inclusion Review consultation.
(h) The Committee noted correspondence of 13 and 17 November 2009 from Ms L Saunders regarding data protection issues.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to seek an update on the Information Commissioner’s investigation into the issues
raised by Ms Saunders and to seek a response on the issues raised by Ms Saunders in her correspondence of 17 November 2009.
Agreed – the Committee would write to Ms Saunders to confirm the Committee’s action on this matter and to forward a copy of Committee correspondence of 28 September 2007 to the Department of Education on RPA education matters.
(i) The Committee noted correspondence of 17 November 2009 from the Department of Education on compulsory school age.
(j) The Committee noted the minutes of the joint meeting of the Committee for Education and Committee for Health Social Services and Public Safety held on 21 October 2009.
(k) The Committee noted correspondence of 17 November 2009 from the Department of Education regarding a delay in the decision on the location of the ESA offices.
(l) The Committee noted correspondence of 17 November 2009 from the Department of Education regarding monitoring of Departmental post project evaluations.
(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 9 November 2009 from the Principal of Monkstown Community School highlighting a significant improvement in the financing of schools, particularly with the recent C2K allocation at the school.
(b) The Committee noted copies of correspondence of 6 November 2009 from Mark Durkan MP MLA to the Minister of Education, Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and Minister of Employment and Learning regarding Funding of School and Employer Connections (formerly FOSEC).
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to request that it is copied the Minister’s response to Mr Durkan.
(c) The Committee noted the presentation slides from the launch of Early Years and High/Scope Strategic Plans from the Long Gallery event on 11 November 2009.
(d) The Committee noted an invitation to attend a festive evening with friends and supporters of the Prince’s Trust on 10 December 2009 in the Harbour Office in Belfast.
(e) The Committee noted a Press Release of 12 November 2009 from the Department of Education entitled ‘Statistical News Release – participation in full-time education and vocational training by 16 and 17 year olds in Northern Ireland 2008/09’.
(f) The Committee noted the South Eastern Education and Library Board Annual Report and Accounts 2008-2009.
(g) The Committee noted an invitation from Barnardo’s Northern Ireland to a seminar entitled ‘Preventing a Lost Generation – Young People not in Education, Employment or Training’ on 14 December 2009 in the Stormont Hotel in Belfast.
(h) The Committee noted a Press Release of 12 November 2009 from the Department of Education entitled ‘Education Minister sends her best wishes to all children’.
(i) The Committee noted a Press Release of 13 November 2009 from the Department of Education entitled ‘Armagh hosts North/South Conference on Autism’.
(j) The Committee noted a Press Release of 16 November 2009 from the Department of Education entitled ‘Ruane Supports Anti-Bullying Week’.
(k) The Committee noted the Winter 2009 Bulletin from the Buttle Trust.
(l) The Committee noted an invitation from the University of Ulster to attend a social and policy research institute seminar entitled ‘Cameron and Ideology’ on 10 December 2009 at the University’s Jordanstown Campus.
6. Departmental Briefing on Education Budget
John McGrath, Deputy Secretary, Catherine Daly, Head of Finance Directorate, Diarmuid McClean, Head of Investment and Infrastructure Division, Katrina Godfrey, Head of Curriculum and Standards Division, and La’Verne Montgomery, Head of Education Workforce Development Division joined the meeting at 2.36pm. The officials gave a presentation on an update to the Education Budget and answered questions from Members on a number of issues, including: In-Year Pressures identified in monitoring rounds; using resources allocated for the cost of the teachers premature retirements for the Extended Schools Programme; access to Schools EYF and whether the schools have been informed of the likely limitations; the current position in relation to the maintenance of the education estate; and departmental staffing pressures; the surrender of STEM Innovation Fund expenditure and the wider work of the Department in relation to changes in the STEM specialist schools policy; realignment between Youth and Schools Capital spend; Asset Disposals; how to best manage identified Stocktake pressures 2010-11; management of the capital programme; value added by pay increases approval process; SEN expenditure (including SEN and Inclusion proposals expenditure); delivering the Department’s Efficiency Plans; where efficiency savings identified through the establishment of ESA SEn and Inclusion Review implementation will be found; Review of the Common Funding Formula; and the Department’s Investment Delivery Plans.
Mr McCrea joined the meeting at 2.45pm.
Ms O’Neill left the meeting at 2.45pm.
Mr McCallister joined the meeting at 3.15pm.
Ms O’Neill joined the meeting at 3.16pm.
Mr Craig left the meeting at 3.45pm.
Mr McCrea left the meeting at 4.03pm.
Mr Lunn left the meeting at 4.16pm.
Mr McCrea rejoined the meeting at 4.17pm.
Mr McCallister left the meeting at 4.20pm.
The Chairperson asked officials whether there were any contingency arrangements in place in the eventuality of a delay in the establishment of ESA beyond 1 January 2010, particularly in relation to the work of the Education and Library Boards and for clarity regarding the position of the membership of the Boards. A Department official confirmed that the Minister continued to be committed to the establishment of ESA on 1 January 2010 and could not offer any further information on this.
The Chairperson thanked the officials for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 4.26pm.
Agreed –The Committee would write to the Department to remind officials of the information they agreed to provide to the Committee on a number of issues raised during the briefing session. In addition the Committee agreed that the Clerk would compile a list of further questions to be put to the Department on education budget issues which had been raised by Members on other occasions for discussion at next week’s meeting.
Mrs Bradley left the meeting at 4.27pm.
7. Forward Work Programme
The Committee discussed and agreed the amended Forward Work Programme to include a briefing from the NI Teachers’ Council on 25 November and briefing on the recent Report on the Entitlement Framework Area Based Planning exercise in the Post Primary Sector at a future meeting.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 4.29pm.
Mr Mervyn Storey
Chairperson, Committee for Education
25 November 2009