Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Venue: Room 21, Parliament Buildings

The Chairperson opened the meeting at 2.02pm in closed session to consider advice from Assembly Legal Services.

1. Apologies

Apologies as above.

2. Legal Advice

The Committee considered written legal advice from Assembly Legal Services.

Agreed – Should any Member wish the Committee to receive a presentation from Assembly Legal Services in relation to this advice or raise an issue arising out of this advice then they will notify the Clerk.

The Committee moved into public session at 2.13pm.

3. Minutes of the Meeting of 12 May 2010

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 12 May 2010.

4. Matters Arising

The Committee noted correspondence of 13 May 2010 from the Department of Education on the STEM Review Report Implementation.

The Committee noted correspondence of 12 May 2010 from the Minister of Education on funding for Nurture Groups and the draft Early Years (0-6) Strategy.

Agreed – The Committee would forward a copy of the Minister’s letter, and related correspondence, to the NI Nurture Group Network.

The Committee noted correspondence of 10 May 2010 from the Northern Ireland Commission for Catholic Education acknowledging receipt of correspondence from Ms Daly of Assumption Grammar School, Ballynahinch.

The Committee noted copy correspondence of 14 May 2010 from the Minister of Education to the Chairperson of the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety on Institutional Child Abuse, enclosing copy correspondence of 24 March 2010 from the Minister of Education to the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety.

The Committee noted correspondence of 17 May 2010 from the Department of Education on the re-employment of retired teachers.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s correspondence to 
Mr J McCafferty who had drawn this matter to the Committee’s attention.

The Committee noted correspondence from the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly regarding the Whitehouse Primary School Public Petition presented to the Assembly on 17 May 2010 by the Committee Chairperson.

5. Correspondence

The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 12 May 2010 entitled ‘Education Minister opens Gaelscoil Na Móna’.

The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 13 May 2010 entitled ‘Education Minister congratulates Full Service Community Network’.

The Committee noted an invitation of 12 May 2010 from the Fostering Network to attend their Annual Conference at the La Mon Hotel and Country Club, Belfast on 1 and 2 October 2010

The Committee noted an invitation of 14 May 2010 from Volunteer Now to attend the launch of the findings of the ‘Youth Volunteering’ section of the Young Life and Times Survey on 1 June 2010 at Queen’s University Institute of Governance.

The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 14 May 2010 entitled ‘£3.6Million Whitehouse Primary School gets the go ahead’.

The Committee noted an invitation of 13 May 2010 from the Faith Subgroup of the Belfast Area Sexual Health Project Board to attend the launch of ‘UNIQUE’ sexual health leaflet in the Stormont Hotel on 2 June 2010.

The Committee noted correspondence of 14 May from Mr and Mrs Dennison thanking the Committee for contribution it made to the campaign for a new build for Whitehouse Primary School and Nursery Unit.

The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 17 May 2010 entitled ‘Minister meets MLAs to discuss I CAN Centre’.

The Committee noted correspondence of 13 May 2010 from Ms V Beardshaw, Chief Executive of I CAN regarding the I CAN Early Years Centre in Ballynahinch.

The Committee noted correspondence of 16 May 2010 from Tarlach Mac Giolla Bhríde regarding the ‘inadequate’ accommodation at Bunscoil Bheann Mhadagáin and inviting Members to visit the school to witness the conditions for themselves. Mr D Bradley and Mr J O’Dowd indicated that they would take up the invitation to visit the school.

Agreed – The Committee agreed that it would forward this correspondence to the Department of Education for its comments on the issues raised and inform the school accordingly.

The Committee noted correspondence of 17 May 2010 from the Clerk to the Committee for Finance and Personnel on external advisers.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Committee for Finance and Personnel correspondence to the Department of Education to request that it provide it with information relating to the Department’s employment of external advisers.

The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 18 May 2010 entitled ‘Education Minister addresses Assembly on Convergence’.

The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 19 May 2010 entitled ‘Education Minister announces new funding for Newry youth club’.

The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 19 May 2010 entitled ‘Minister announces additional nursery unit for Portadown’.

The Committee noted a Department of Education News release of 19 May 2010 entitled ‘Minister agrees closure of St Patrick’s Primary School, Creggan’.

The Committee noted correspondence of 19 May 2010 from Ms N Campbell, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education requesting an opportunity to present to Committee on Integrated Education.

The Committee noted correspondence of 19 May 2010 from Ms G Tigchelaar, Chairperson of the Integrated Education Fund, requesting an opportunity to present to Committee about the work of the Integrated Education Fund.

6. Department of Education briefing on the Outcome of the Review of Irish-Medium Education and Progress on its Implementation

Robson Davison, Deputy Secretary, Linda Wilson, Director of Families and Communities and Diarmuid McClean, Director of Investment and Infrastructure joined the meeting at 2.25pm.

The officials provided a briefing on the outcome of the Review of Irish-Medium (IM) Education and the progress in its implementation and answered Members questions on a number of issues, including: the need for requirements to encourage and facilitate IM and integrated education; the size of the IM sector relative to the Preparatory Departments of Grammar Schools; the implications for other sectors, particularly the Integrated sector, of the Federation Model and whether there would be pressure on other schools to federate with IM schools; the Western Education and Library Board’s experience of federated schools; how CnaG’s preference for exclusively the immersion model sat with the Department’s duty to have regard to parental choice; long-standing accommodation problems in IM schools and how the Department’s IM Action Plan would address the ‘historic’ lack of support for the sector; whether Departmental officials dealing with the IM sector were themselves Irish speakers; what secondary school IM provision was being planned; the criteria used by InaG (the Irish Medium Trust Fund) in making decisions to fund schools and whether the four schools in question would have received funding under normal school estate criteria; whether any of the Review’s recommendations would address underachievement in the IM sector; the support for compulsory IM pre-school provision; whether schools in the IM or other sectors have up-to-date planning permission for developments; the overall objectives of the Irish language movement and the role of IM schools in achieving those objectives; the level of attendance at the consultation meetings regarding the Review.

Agreed – the Committee requested, and Departmental officials agreed to provide, a detailed progress report on the implementation of the recommendations of the Review together with a report on the work of the Monitoring Group, including the relevant action plan(s) and targets.

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 3.30pm.

Mrs M O’Neill left the meeting at 2.45pm. 
Mr J McCallister joined the meeting at 3.10pm. 
Mrs M O’Neill rejoined the meeting at 3.15pm. 
Mr A Ross left the meeting at 3.29pm.

7. Department of Education briefing on Assessment Arrangements to Support the Revised Curriculum.

Katrina Godfrey, Director of Curriculum, Qualifications and Standards Directorate and Brain Morrow, Head of Curriculum, Qualifications and Standards Directorate joined the meeting at 3.31pm.

The officials provided a briefing Assessment Arrangements to Support the Revised Curriculum and answered Members questions on a number of issues, including: the timing of the roll out of the new assessment arrangements, including those for ICT, and the year in which they first be used; the timing of the consultation with teachers and whether the concerns they raised had been addressed; whether the assessment arrangements would indicate whether pupils were on track for acceptable levels of attainment at GCSE; whether the proposed system of teacher moderation would be sufficiently robust to inspire confidence and whether statistical analysis was a sufficiently robust method of ensuring that teacher assessment was being objectively calibrated and would detect any calibration problems sufficiently early; the usefulness of internal moderation and the increased workload involved for teachers; the nature and extent of consultation with parents; the cost of the proposed assessment arrangements; whether the concerns raised by the ETI had been addressed to its satisfaction; and the use of grade C at GCSE as a benchmark level of attainment.

Agreed – the Committee would request officials to come back to Committee in the autumn, together with CCEA. to provide an update on the proposed assessment arrangements, including costs of the arrangements and key stakeholder views.

Mrs M O’Neill left the meeting at 3.45pm. 
Mr J O’Dowd left the meeting at 3.45pm.

8. Forward Work Programme

The Committee discussed its Forward Work Programme.

Agreed – that on 26 May 2010 the Committee would have presentations from representatives of the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education and the Integrated Education Fund.

Agreed – that on 2 June 2010 that the Committee would have an Update Briefing from Departmental officials on the Education Budget 2010/11 (including the Convergence Delivery Plan) and a Briefing on In-Year Monitoring.

Agreed – that on 9 June 2010 the Committee would have presentations from representatives from the Education and Library Boards on (a) the Provisional Criteria for Initiating Statutory Assessments of Special Educational Need and for Making Statements of Special Educational Need; and (b) the Good Practice Guidelines for Schools to Meet the Special Educational Needs of Pupils at the School-Based Stages of the Code of Practice. The presentation would also address the changing number of statements within the E&LB’s.

Agreed – that on Wednesday 16 June 2010 two separate groups of Committee Members would make visits to the Nurture Units at Holy Family Primary School, Londonderry and Ballysally Primary School, Coleraine.

9. Any other Business

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 4.40pm.

Mr Mervyn Storey
Chairperson, Committee for Education
26 May 2010

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