Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Wednesday, 15 September 2010
Venue: Room 21, Parliament Buildings
The Chairperson opened the meeting at 2.02 pm in public session.
Apologies as above.
2. Minutes of the Meeting of 8 September 2010
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 8 September 2010
3. Matters Arising
(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 8 September 2010 from the Department of Education enclosing copy correspondence of 6 September 2010 from the Minister of Education to Ms M Daly of Assumption Grammar School on the future of Catholic Education.
(b) The Committee noted correspondence of 10 September 2010 from Ms L Saunders on Data Security issues.
(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 10 September 2010 from the Clerk to the Employment and Learning Committee enclosing correspondence from Dolores Kelly, MLA, Chairperson to the Committee for Employment and Learning to the Minister of Education on School Bus Passes.
Agreed – the Committee would forward Mrs Kelly’s correspondence to the Minister of Education.
(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 14 September 2010 from the Department of Education enclosing copy correspondence of 11 September from the Minister of Education to Jim Wells, MLA, Chairperson to the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety regarding the Safeguarding Board Bill.
(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 8 September 2010 from the Department of Education enclosing a copy of the Department’s Disability Action Plan 2010-13.
(b) The Committee noted correspondence of 9 September 2010 from the Mrs D Kelly, Chairperson of the Committee for Employment and Learning enclosing a copy of a presentation from Rathbone on the findings of their workshops and requesting the Committee for Education to seek certain information from the Department of Education regarding pupil non-attendance and follow up action.
Agreed – the Committee would forward Mrs Kelly’s correspondence and attachments to the Department for comment on the specific issues raised from the findings of the workshops.
Agreed – the Committee would ask the Department of Education to provide the information regarding pupil non-attendance and follow up action set out in Mrs Kelly’s letter .
(c) The Committee noted an invitation from Ofcom to attend an information day entitled ‘Safeguarding Children and Young People Online’ at Ofcom, Landmark House, Belfast on 17 September 2010.
(d) The Committee noted an invitation from PlayBoard Northern Ireland to attend their Conference 2010 at the Ross Park Hotel, Ballymena on 19 and 20 October 2010.
(e) The Committee noted copy correspondence of 9 September 2010 to the Minister of Education from Ms L Warde Hunter, Strategic Director Children Services, Action for Children Northern Ireland on the Comprehensive Spending Review process.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education asking to be copied in on the Minister’s response to Ms Warde Hunter.
(f) The Committee noted correspondence of 13 September 2010 from the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure enclosing correspondence from Barry McElduff, MLA, Chairperson to the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure regarding the provision of Ulster Scots training to school governors.
Agreed – the Committee would forward Mr McElduff’s correspondence to the Minister of Education.
(g) The Committee noted an invitation of 9 September 2010 from the Institution of Engineering and Technology to attend a presentation on the business perspective of the draft Northern Ireland STEM Strategy at Queens’s University, Belfast on 25 October 2010.
(h) The Committee noted an invitation received on 13 September 2010 from the Office of the First and deputy First Minister to attend a Sustainable Development conference entitled ‘Sharing Ideas on Implementation’ in the Ulster Museum, Belfast on 21 and 22 September 2010.
(i) The Committee noted an invitation of 13 September 2010 from the Construction Employers Federation to attend the Construction Excellence Awards in the Culloden Hotel, Cultra on 7 October 2010.
(j) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 14 September 2010 entitled ‘Healthy Lunches Mean Healthy, Happy Children – Ruane’.
(k) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 15 September 2010 entitled ‘Education Minister discusses future development plans for Parkhall Integrated College’.
5. Departmental Briefing on September Monitoring
Mark McNaughten, Director of Finance, Diarmuid McClean, Head of Infrastructure and Investment Division, and Colleen Tonner, Finance Division joined the meeting at 2.12pm.
The witness provided a briefing on September Monitoring and answered Members questions on a number of issues, including: the surrender of £1million STEM Innovation Fund monies and the lack of suitable capital projects in the context of similar surrenders of STEM monies in previous years; the return to the Department of its contribution to meet the costs of preparing for the anticipated swine flu epidemic; the breakdown of the £23million spend on capital major and minor projects and maintenance announced by the Minister of Education on 5 August 2010; progress in agreeing terms of reference for PEDU’s engagement with the Department of Education, the anticipated date for PEDU’s report and the impact of any recommended efficiencies on the 2010/11 E&LBs Resource Allocation Plans and beyond. Officials left the meeting at 2.29 pm.
6. Departmental Briefing on the Key Issues raised by the DE Internal Audit relating to Data Security
Chris Stewart, Director of Equality and All-Ireland Directorate, Veronica Bintley, Head of Business Support Team, Michelle Anderson, Head of Internal Audit and Brian Morrow, Head of Assessment and Qualifications Team joined the meeting at 2.30 pm. Officials apologised for the late delivery of papers to the Committee, acknowledged that this was inexcusable and informed the Committee that a review of the arrangements for providing papers on time to the Committee would be reviewed and that the Department would do its best to secure an improvement.
The witnesses provided a briefing on the key issues raised by the DE Internal Audit relating to data security and answered Members questions on a number of issues, including:
progress made in resolving data security issues in NDPBs and schools identified in the November 2008 Report; whether iron keys and encrypted laptops were in use in schools as well as in the Departments; the risks of different approaches to and interpretation among education NDPBs and schools in relation to the complex issues of data security and data protection, including the effectiveness of self-assessment; the standards of data security to be applied in schools; the Department’s follow up action in relation to the issues in schools and NDPBs, the priority given to work on data security in schools and when the current audit and action plan would be finished; the professional Internal Audit resources available to the Department and its NDPBs as opposed to schools and how the Department proposes to tackle this; the decision to treat one of Mrs L Saunders FoI requests as vexatious, the assessment carried out, the criteria applied and whether any other DE FoI requests had been deemed vexatious, the relative scale of correspondence and whether the Internal Audits would have been carried out anyway; whether Statistics and Research Branch had been included in the Internal Audit; the reliability of using self-assessments in the November 2008 Audit of Education NDPBS and schools and the lack of any Internal Audit verification of self-assessments; the limited capacity of schools to self-assess and how this could impact on remedial action; the timescale for compiling the data security plans for all education sector bodies; the requirement to inform parents in advance of the use to which requested information would be put and whether the Department could provide schools with relevant pro-forma to insure that happened; what organisations were involved in INCAS and their responsibilities; whether there had been any independent audit of CEM at the University of Durham or any other form of quality assurance; the nature of the ‘Formal Accreditation’ of third party providers; whether the security of the Department’s IT system is tested; C2K’s accessing information from school databases and the linking of personal information to information about ethnicity; whether the Department would know if anyone attempted to hack into its IT system; whether there was a role for External Audit and the assessment of security risk around the use of smart phones.
the significance and rationale for the job title ‘Director of Equality and All Ireland Directorate’, whether he was also responsible for East/West links, whether an equivalent job title exists in other departments and whether the new title reflected a politicisation of the Directorate’s title. Officials left the meeting at 3.42 pm.
Mrs M O’Neill left the meeting at 3.03pm
Mr J McCallister joined the meeting at 3.10pm
Agreed – officials would provide the Committee with a paper in relation to the work of the Equality and All-Ireland Directorate.
Agreed – officials would provide the Committee with a written update on the collation of NDPBs/schools’ Data Security Plans.
Agreed – officials would provide the Committee with a progress update, upon completion of the current Audit of NDPBs/schools and related Action Plan and the meeting with representatives of the Information Commissioner scheduled for Tuesday 21 September 2010.
7. Forward Work Programme
The Committee noted and agreed the amended Forward Work Programme.
8. Any Other Business
Agreed - The Chairperson would come back to Committee with further information on a possible expert on Early Years who might contribute to the Committee’s scrutiny of the Department’s draft Early Years (0-6) Strategy.
9. Date of the next meeting
The next Committee meeting will be held on Wednesday 22 September 2010 at 2.00pm in Room 21, Parliament Building.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 3.45 pm.
Ms Michelle McIlveen
Acting Chairperson, Committee for Education
22 September 2010