Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Venue: BELFAST MODEL SCHOOL FOR GIRLS

The Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.47am in public session.

1. Apologies

As above.

2. Presentation from Belfast Model School for Girls on the Committee Inquiry – ‘Successful Post-Primary Schools in Disadvantaged Areas’.

Johnny Graham, Principal, Janice Clarke, Full Service Coordinator and Jacqueline Weir, Chair of Board of Governors joined the meeting at 10.52am.

Mr J O’Dowd joined the meeting at 10.54am

Mr B McCrea joined the meeting at 11.11am

The witnesses provided a briefing on their school’s submission to the Committee Inquiry, ‘Successful Post-Primary Schools in Disadvantaged Areas’, and answered questions on a number of issues including; Full Service Community Schools; the transition teachers programme; family link co-ordinators; basic literacy and numeracy skills; the relationship between Girls Model and its feeder primary schools and the issue of transporting children to and from the school. Issues around the topic of the future Education Budget were also raised and included, LMS, school budget autonomy, EMA, CASS and budget implications for the loss of Specialist School status.

The witnesses left the meeting at 11.45am.

3. Minutes of the Meeting of 12 January 2011

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 12 January 2011.

4. Matters Arising

(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 17 January 2011 from the Committee for Finance and Personnel on the Executive’s draft Budget 2011-15.

(b) The Committee noted correspondence of 12 December 2010 from the Committee for Regional Development enclosing correspondence from its Chairperson to the Minister for Education on the Committee Stage of the Transport Bill.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the letter to the Department to pass onto the Minister for Education.

(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 14 January 2011 from the Minister of Education regarding the processes undertaken by the Department to appoint councillors to the Education and Library Boards and in particular to the BELB.

(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 17 January 2011 from the Department of Education enclosing a copy of the Minister’s response of 14 January 2011 to Action for Children NI on the Spending Review.

(e) The Committee noted copy correspondence of 18 January 2011 from the Deputy Secretary of Department of Education to all School Principals and Chairpersons of Boards of Governors in grant-aided schools on School Surpluses: End Year Flexibility.

5. Correspondence

(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 10 January 2011 from Mr M Cairns, Editor, Political Programmes, BBC NI on the possibility of having future Committee for Education meetings streamed live or recorded for Democracy Live.

(b) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 12 January 2011 entitled ‘Ruane comments on schools’ budget surpluses’.

(c) The Committee noted an invitation of 11 January 2011 from Youth Action Northern Irelands to attend a conference entitled ‘Lets Talk – Young Adult Issues’ on 27 January 2011 at YouthAction NI, Belfast.

(d) The Committee noted correspondence regarding the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition which the Chairperson attended on 13 January 2011.

(e) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 17 January 2011 entitled ‘Education Minister congratulates young scientists’.

(f) The Committee noted correspondence of 6 January 2011 from Wiseradvisor on training courses developed in partnership between Advice NI, Citizens Advice and Consumer Credit Counselling Service.

(g) The Committee noted correspondence of 14 January 2011 from Mr G Woodman, Resource Team Librarian, NI Assembly thanking the Committee for their congratulation on his inclusion on the New Years Honours List.

(h) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 18 January 2011 entitled ‘Education should be a key priority – Ruane’.

6. Presentation from St Louise’s Comprehensive on the Committee Inquiry – ‘Successful Post-Primary Schools in Disadvantaged Areas’.

Carmel McCartan, Principal, Ita McVeigh, Assistant Principal, and John O’Rourke, Chair of the Board of Governors joined the meeting at 11.54am.

Mr J O’Dowd left the meeting at 12.02pm

The witnesses provided a briefing on their school’s submission to the Committee Inquiry, ‘Successful Post-Primary Schools in Disadvantaged Areas’ and answered questions on a number of issues including; school leadership in terms of a value driven approach; its Pastoral Support Centre; warm relationships with parents based on its value system; the use of Yellis and Midyis to set targets and track pupils performance; single sex schools and the School’s ability to empower women in West Belfast. Budget issues were also raised: the loss of funding in relation to Specialist School Status; the School’s current deficit in funding; the unfairness of the cap on Extended Schools funding and whether limited funds would be best targeted at early intervention in education and disadvantaged areas.

The witnesses left the meeting at 12.46pm.

7. Presentation from Ashfield Boys’ High School on the Committee Inquiry – ‘Successful Post-Primary Schools in Disadvantaged Areas’.

Andy McMorran, Principal, Jill Ashenhurst, Vice Principal and William McCullough, Chair of Board of Governors joined the meeting at 12.47pm.

The witnesses provided a briefing on their school’s submission to the Committee Inquiry, ‘Successful Post-Primary Schools in Disadvantaged Areas’ and answered questions on a number of issues including; their journey from a ‘sink’ school to where they are now; the emphasis the school puts on literacy and numeracy; its accelerated reading programme; how much pupils learn in each lesson; the fact that the school has a School Management Team rather than a senior Management Team; the emphasis put on the reward system for pupils and the ‘open door’ policy for parents; commending of the Extended Schools Programme; whether ETI inspectors are wasting their time by inspecting good schools; the school’s ability to have gained funding from a number of sources such as the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme and the Lottery Fund; and the notion that early intervention, dissemination of good practice and on site solutions create a successful school.

The witnesses left the meeting at 1.20pm.

8. Presentation from Coláiste Feirste on the Committee Inquiry – ‘Successful Post-Primary Schools in Disadvantaged Areas’.

Micheál Mac Giolla Ghunna, Principal, Diarmuid Ua Bruadaire, Senior Teacher and Emer Mhic an Fhailí, Learning Support Centre Manager joined the meeting at 1.22pm.

The witnesses provided a briefing on their school’s submission to the Committee Inquiry, ‘Successful Post-Primary Schools in Disadvantaged Areas’ and answered questions on a number of issues including; the difficulty in raising the standards of the school due to lack of resources; facilities and development support; the re-structuring of the senior leadership team; recommitment to child-centred provision; emphasis on staff development; the importance of the schools ethos in relation to moral, pupil, staff, building relationships with parents and the community; the high calibre of parent interest in the school; the difficulties faced by the school when trying to gain a SEN diagnosis; the Learning Support Centre which adopts a three pronged support approach to academic support, additional needs and nurture pupils needs.

The witnesses left the meeting at 2.02pm.

9. Forward Work Programme

The Committee considered and agreed an amended forward work programme.

10. Date and Time of Next Meeting

The next Committee meeting will be on Tuesday 25 January 2011 at 11.00am in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

The Committee will also hold its regular meeting on Wednesday 26 January 2011 at 2.00pm in Room 21, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 2.05pm.

Mr Mervyn Storey
Chairperson, Committee for Education
26 January 2011

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