Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Venue: Room 21, Parliament Buildings

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

1. Legal Advice

The Committee considered written legal advice from Assembly Legal Services.

The Committee moved into public session at 2.04pm.

2. Apologies

Apologies as above.

3. Minutes of the Meeting of 19 May 2010

Mr J O’Dowd sought clarification whether the proposed visit by him and Mr D Bradley to Bunscoil Bheann Mhadagáin was a ‘Committee Visit’.

Agreed – the Clerk would make the necessary arrangements for a Committee visit and inform all Members.

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 19 May 2010.

4. Matters Arising

(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 19 May 2010 from the Department of Education enclosing the Minister’s response of 17 May 2010 to Mr Bradshaw, Chairperson of the Board of Governors of Omagh Integrated Primary and Nursery School regarding a new school build.

(b) The Committee noted correspondence of 20 May 2010 from the Department of Education on Local Government Pensions Scheme (Amendment) Regulations relating to classroom assistants.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s correspondence
to NIPSA for information.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s correspondence
to the Committee for Environment for information.

(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 20 May 2010 from Ms I Anderson of the All Party Group on Autism enclosing a copy of Autism Bill (NI) Consultation Response Report.

(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 21 May 2010 from Mr P McCafferty on the re-employment of retired teachers.

(e) The Committee noted of 25 May 2010 from Mr P McCafferty on the re-employment of retired teachers.

Agreed – the Committee would write to Mr McCafferty to acknowledge his correspondence of 21 and 25 May 2010 informing him that it was not appropriate for the Committee to become involved in individual pension disputes and highlighting the assurance given in the Department’s letter of 17 May 2010 that it was not considering any restrictions on further employment of teachers in receipt of actuarially reduced pension.

(f) The Committee noted correspondence of 21 May 2010 from the Department of Education enclosing the agreed Terms of Reference for the review of existing capital projects listed on the Department’s Investment Delivery Plan.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department seeking greater detail on how individual assessments of capital projects are carried out and priorities are established.

(g) The Committee noted correspondence of 21 May 2010 from the Department of Education enclosing a response to a Freedom of Information request by Mr and Mrs Dudgeon in respect to Whitehouse Primary and Nursery School.

(h) The Committee noted correspondence of 24 May 2010 from the Department of Education on the community use of school premises.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s correspondence to Mr McNarry, MLA for information.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s correspondence to Ms McKee of Sport Northern Ireland for information.

(i) The Committee noted correspondence of 24 May 2010 from the Department of Education regarding the major capital works project for Whitehouse Primary School and Nursery Unit.

(j) The Committee noted correspondence of 24 May 2010 from Bunscoil Bheann Mhadagáin enclosing information relating to an inspection report and a condition report.

Agreed – the Committee would forward this correspondence for the Department of Education to consider in conjunction with the previous correspondence from Bunscoil Bheann Mhadagáin forwarded on 20 May 2010.

(k) The Committee noted correspondence of 25 May 2010 from the Department of Education on the Early Years (0-6) Strategy responding to issues raised in NAHT’s letter of 10 March 2010.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s correspondence to NAHT for information.

(l) The Committee noted correspondence of 25 May 2010 from the Department of Education enclosing a copy of the draft Early Years Strategy.

Agreed – the Committee would request a briefing from Departmental officials on the draft Early Years Strategy as soon as possible.

Ms Michelle O’Neill joined the meeting at 2.07pm

Mr D Hilditch joined the meeting at 2.09pm

5. Correspondence

(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 14 May 2010 from the Clerk to the Committee for Finance and Personnel on the Committee inquiry into the role of the Northern Ireland Assembly in scrutinising the Executive’s Budget and expenditure.

(b) The Committee noted correspondence of 19 May 2010 from the Clerk to the Committee for Finance and Personnel on the Committee inquiry into the role of the Northern Ireland Assembly in scrutinising the Executives’ Budget and expenditure.

Agreed – the Committee would consider its response to the Committee for Finance and Personnel correspondence of 14 and 19 May 2010 at its meeting on 2 June 2010.

(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 19 May 2010 from Mr McConkey, the Principal of Whitehouse Primary School and Nursery Unit, acknowledging the work of the Committee in regard to the new school build.

(d) The Committee noted a record of the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group meeting held on 18 May 2010.

(e) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 20 May 2010 entitled ‘£1.3million announced for pre-school places’.

(f) The Committee noted correspondence of 18 May 2010 from the Gerry Rogan Initiative Trust enclosing a copy of their submission to the Committee for Employment and Learning inquiry into Young People Not in Education, Employment or Leaning (NEETS).

(g) The Committee noted correspondence of 12 May 2010 from Alderman S Moutray, MLA on the lack of nursery provision in the Upper Bann area.

Agreed – the Committee would forward a copy of this correspondence to the Department of Education for comment on the specific issues raised.

(h) The Committee noted correspondence of 9 April 2010 from the NILGA’s Agriculture & Rural Development Group on free/subsidised fruit and vegetable supplies to local schools.

Agreed – the Committee would forward a copy of this correspondence to the Department of Education and request that the Committee be copied in on the Minister of Education’s reply to NILGA Agriculture & Rural Development Group.

(i) The Committee noted correspondence of 13 May 2010 from Stranmillis University College enclosing a copy of their Annual Report 2008-2009.

(j) The Committee noted correspondence of 21 May 2010 from the Business Office enclosing copies of the Northern Ireland Audit Office’s Follow-Up Report of 26 May 2010 entitled ‘The Management of Substitution Cover for Teachers’.

(k) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 24 May 2010 entitled ‘Ruane marks major step forward for Irish language youth provision’.

(l) The Committee noted correspondence of 24 May 2010 from the Clerk to the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister on the Commissioner for Older People Bill.

Agreed – the Committee would forward this correspondence to the Department for any comment it may have on the text and policy intentions of this Bill.

(m) The Committee noted correspondence of 24 May 2010 from the Clerk of the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment (ETI) on major fuel suppliers in Northern Ireland.

Agreed – the Committee would write to inform the ETI Committee that it was content for it to take the lead on this issue.

(n) The Committee noted correspondence of 24 May 2010 from Mr D Morrow of the Community Relations Council on the Department’s decision to cut the Education Community Relations budget.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Mr Morrow’s correspondence to the Department for comment on the specific issues raised.

(o) The Committee noted correspondence of 24 May 2010 from Ms B Donnelly regarding the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI) complaints procedure.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Ms Donnelly the link to the complaints procedure on the GTCNI website.

(p) The Committee noted an invitation received on 25 May 2010 from the South Armagh Childcare Consortium to attend the launch of their rural childcare project and a celebration of children in our community at the Tí Chulainn Centre, Mullaghbawn on Wednesday 16 June 2010.

(q) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 25 May 2010 entitled ‘Quality and Choice are the Key to Success’.

(r) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 25 May 2010 entitled ‘Local children dissolving boundaries through north-south initiative’.

(s) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 25 May 2010 entitled ‘97% of children in pre-school places’.

(t) The Committee noted correspondence of 24 May 2010 from Ms A Millar of NIPSA regarding the non-payment of some CCEA staff of their 2009 contractual pay increase.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Ms Millar’s correspondence to the Department for comment on the specific issues raised.

6. Any other Business

Mr Hilditch noted and acknowledged the Minster of Education’s decision to approve a major refurbishment of Carrickfergus YMCA which had been recently raised with Departmental officials at Committee.

7. Integrated Education – Presentation from the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE)

Colm Cavanagh, Chairperson, Clare McGlynn, Board Member, Noreen Campbell, Chief Executive, and Lorna McAlpine, Senior Development Officer, joined the meeting at 2.20pm.

The witnesses provided a briefing on the case for Integrated Education and answered Members questions on a number of issues, including: the greatest obstacle to achieving a single system of schools; the level of savings identified in the Deloitte Report ‘Research into the financial cost of the Northern Ireland divide’; the willingness of all sectors to collaborate on a cross-community basis; the fact that transformation of schools to integrated status, in practice, only occurs in the Controlled Sector and that this can be perceived as threatening ‘Protestant’ schools; the different motives for seeking transformation; a move from a threshold levels of minority community participation to upper limits on majority community participation to take account of the increased numbers in the ‘Other’ category; the sectoral nature of nursery provision despite all provision being, in theory, open to all sections of the community; the surveys indicating broad support for integrated education; sharing and collaboration while retaining schools with separate ethos; the ethos of Integrated Schools being ‘Christian in character’; geographic variation in levels of collaboration and sharing; the financial position of Club Bank; whether there was a new category of ‘Community Schools’; how the Department’s duty to ‘encourage and facilitate’ both Integrated and Irish Medium Education is discharged.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education, with a copy to the BELB, regarding the suggestion in NICIE’s briefing paper that a new category of ‘Community Schools’ had been created.

Mr Cavanagh, Chairperson, Ms McGlynn, Ms Campbell and Ms McAlpine left the meeting at 3.39.pm.

Mr B McCrea joined the meeting at 2.28pm 
Mr J McCallister joined the meeting at 2.53pm 
Mr J O’Dowd left the meeting at 3.27pm 
J McCallister left the meeting at 3.33pm 
Mr D Hilditch left the meeting at 3.40pm

8. Integrated Education – Presentation from the Integrated Education Fund (IEF)

Ms Geraldine Tigchalaar OBE, Chairperson, Mr David Thompson, Board Member and Ms Tina Merron, Chief Executive, joined the meeting at 3.41pm.

The witnesses provided a briefing on the work of the Fund and answered Members questions on a number of issues, including: the evidence for ‘recognition of changing attitude of parents who have tasted peace and the shared future …’; who was making the applications to IEF for PACT funding; that some funding initiatives had attracted uptake purely to get funding; the eligibility of Integrated Schools for PACT funding and who they partner with; the nature of the ‘cultural deficit’ which comes to light where a school transforms; the relative strength of ethos, identity and confidence of the Maintained sector and the Controlled sectors and the effect of this on the each sector’s confidence in engaging with the other; whether IEF should take on more of a ‘challenge’ role; the recent research commissioned by IEF.

Ms M McIlveen left the meeting at 3.53pm 
Mr J McCallister rejoined the meeting at 4.15pm

Ms Tigchalaar, Mr Thompson and Ms Merron left the meeting at 4.23pm

Agreed – the Committee would request that IEF forward copies of the research papers being prepared by Oxford Economics and by FGS McClure Watters to the Committee when these are ready and the Committee will then consider the possibility of an IEF oral briefing on these papers.

9. Forward Work Programme

The Committee noted and agreed an updated Forward Work Programme and Members present indicated which of the two Primary School Nurture Groups visits on 16 June 2010 they could attend.

10. Date of the next meeting

The next Committee meeting will be on Wednesday 2 June 2010 at 2.00pm in Room 21, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 4.26pm.

Mr Mervyn Storey
Chairperson, Committee for Education
2 June 2010

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