Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Venue: Room 144, Parliament Buildings

The Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.31am in closed session.

1. Specialist Budget Advice

The Chairperson updated the Committee on the tender evaluation and selection process.

Agreed – the Committee would seek clarification on some areas of the tender submissions received and the Sub-Committee would meet again on 12 January 2011.

2. Appointment of Councillors to BELB

The Committee noted correspondence of 6 December 2010 from the Department of Education on the process to appoint councillors to the Education and Library Boards.

Agreed – The Chairperson would write to the Minister of Education to ask that she consider referring the matter to the Attorney General for his opinion and consider publishing that advice with a view to resolving the current situation; ask the Minister for a response to specific issues raised in its letter to the Department of 19 November 2010, that were not addressed in the Department’s response of 6 December 2010.

The meeting moved into public session at 10.37am

3. Apologies

Apologies as above.

4. Minutes of the Meeting of 8 December 2010

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 8 December 2010.

5. Matters Arising

(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 6 December 2010 from the Department of Education on the process to appoint councillors to the Education and Library Boards. (See paragraph 2 above)

(b) The Committee noted correspondence of 3 December 2010 from Mr M Langhammer enclosing a letter sent by the Minister of Education to Ms L Fawcett regarding flexibility and school starting age.

(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 7 December 2010 from Mrs M Kelly, Assistant Director of Barnardo’s NI enclosing information on Professor Shanahan’s work on literacy and a copy of Barnardos NI Report entitled ‘How and Why to Conduct a Review of Services Affecting Vulnerable Children in Northern Ireland’.

Agreed – The Clerk would, if possible, arrange informal briefings from Professor Shanahan and Barnardo’s in the week commencing 17 January 2011.

(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 8 December 2010 from the Department of Education on changes to the admissions procedure for the pre-school sector for the 2011/12 school year.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s correspondence to Ms S Campbell, NAHT Nursery Education Committee for information.

(e) The Committee noted correspondence of 8 December 2010 from the Department of Education on issues raised by CiNI and the NAHT on the draft Early Years (0-6) Strategy.

(f) The Committee noted correspondence of 9 December 2010 from the Clerk to the Committee for OFMdFM enclosing the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland - Investing Activity Report for November 2010.

(g) The Committee noted correspondence of 9 December 2010 from the Committee for Finance and Personnel enclosing a response from the Department of Finance and Personnel on the PEDU Review of Education.

(h) The Committee noted correspondence of 10 December from the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety enclosing correspondence from the Chairperson of the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public safety to the Minister for Education on the Autism Bill.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Mr Wells’s correspondence to the Minister of Education.

(i) The Committee noted correspondence of 9 December 2010 from the Department of Education the lack of funding available for school libraries.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the response to Mr J Austin, Librarian, Thornhill College for information.

(j) The Committee notes a copy of the Chairperson’s speaking notes to the Belfast Association of Post Primary Principals.

(k) The Committee reconsidered correspondence of 18 November 2010 from the Committee for OFMdFM on European Issues.

Agreed – the Committee would forward to the Committee for OFMdFM a report on the Committee for Education’s activity on European Issues via its monitoring of relevant European developments affecting education.

(l) The Committee reconsidered correspondence of 30 November 2010 from the Clerk to the Committee for Finance and Personnel on Stakeholder Engagement on the Spending Review and draft Budget 2011-15.

Agreed – The Committee would write to the Committee for Finance and Personnel to inform it what stakeholder and Departmental engagement the Committee has had to date on the Spending Review and Draft Budget 2011-15.

(m) The Committee noted correspondence of 13 December 2010 from the Department of Education on Community Relations funding cuts.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s response to Mr D Morrow, Chief Executive, NI Community Relations Council for information.

(n) The Committee noted correspondence of 10 December 2010 from Ms K Cairns, Ulster Farmers Union, thanking it for raising the issue of an undersupply of A Level places with the Department of Education.

(o) The Committee noted correspondence of 13 December 2010 from Mr S Keys regarding the lack of available teaching posts.

Agreed – the Committee would write to Mr Keys and alert him to the Public Accounts Committee Report entitled ‘The Management of Substitution Cover for Teachers Follow-Up Report’.

(p) The Committee noted correspondence of 14 December 2010 from the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety (HSSPS Committee) enclosing correspondence from the Chairperson of the HSSPS Committee to the Minister of Education inviting her officials to brief the HSSPS Committee on the Autism Bill.

Agreed – the Committee would forward this correspondence to the Minister of Education.

(q) The Committee noted correspondence of 14 December 2010 from the Committee for OFMdFM enclosing a Hansard Transcript of 24 November 2010 of a briefing received from the Junior Ministers on the Child Poverty and Childcare Strategies.

Ms M O’Neill joined the meeting at 10.43am

6. Correspondence

(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 8 December 2010 from the Children’s Law Centre enclosing a copy of their response to the draft Early Years (0-6) Strategy.

(b) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 9 December 2010 entitled ‘Enrolments at Grant-Aided Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2010/11: basic Statistics’.

(c) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 9 December 2010 entitled ‘Ruane approves new Autistic Spectrum Disorder Unit’

(d) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 9 December 2010 entitled ‘Young Enterprise can ignite a spark – Ruane’.

(e) The Committee noted correspondence of the 7 December 2010 from Mrs C Cosgrove on new guidelines for School Governors.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Mrs Cosgrove’s correspondence to the Department of Education for comment on the specific issues raised.

(f) The Committee noted correspondence of 13 December 2010 from the British Council enclosing a copy of its Newsletter dated December 2010.

(g) The Committee noted correspondence of 13 December 2010 from the Community Relations Councils enclosing a copy of ‘Shared Space, A research journal on peace, conflict and community relations in Northern Ireland’.

7. Department of Education Written Briefing on Education Workforce Issues

No written briefing paper was provided by the Department.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Minister setting out what the Committee would require, in light of the Draft Budget 2011-15 now agreed by the Executive, by way of information on the Minister of Education’s revised Spending Plan and associated Savings Delivery Plan to enable the Committee to scrutinise and advise, as appropriate.

8. Assembly Research Briefing on Successful Post-Primary Schools Serving Disadvantaged Communities

A representative of Assembly Research provided a briefing on ‘Successful Post-Primary Schools Serving Disadvantaged Communities’ and answered Members’ questions.

9. Forward Work Programme

The Committee considered a list of schools for possible visits in relation to its inquiry ‘Successful Schools Serving Disvantaged Communities’.

Agreed – the Clerk would circulate to Members a final list of schools and forward work programme reflecting the Inquiry work programme and the precedence the Committee agreed to give to the Education Budget 2011-15 scrutiny.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 11.09am.

Mr Mervyn Storey
Chairperson, Committee for Education
12 January 2011

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