Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Wednesday, 20 October 2010
Venue: Room 21, Parliament Buildings
The Chairperson opened the meeting at 2.02pm in public session.
Apologies as above. The Chairperson welcomed Mr D Hilditch’s return to Committee after a period of convalescence and congratulated Mr J McCallister on the birth of a daughter.
2. Minutes of the Meeting of 13 October 2010
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes, as amended, of the meeting of 13 October 2010
3. Matters Arising
(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 12 October 2010 from the Minister of Education to the Chairperson of the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure on funding for the Special Olympics.
Agreed – The Committee would forward the Minister’s response to the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure.
(b) The Committee noted correspondence of 14 October 2010 from the Department of Education on the cost of School Transport.
(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 14 October 2010 from the Department of Education on the breakdown by gender of appointees to headships who did not hold the PQH (NI) qualification.
(a) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 13 October 2010 entitled ‘Education Minister visits Rainbow Centre Newry’.
(b) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 14 October 2010 entitled ‘Education Minister open SMILE Surestart’.
(c) The Committee noted correspondence of the 12 October 2010 from the Education and Library Boards enclosing a copy of the Supplementary Report on the Screening of Policies April 2009 – March 2010 and and the Screening Decisions on the Boards’ Resource Allocation Plans for 2010/11
(d) The Committee noted an invitation of 12 October 2010 from the Joint Consultative Forum, Education Sector, to attend a meeting to discuss the Supplementary Report on the Screening of Policies April 2009 – March 2010 and and the Screening Decisions on the Boards’ Resource Allocation Plans for 2010/11 at the Befast Education and Library Board on 18 October 2010.
(e) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 19 October 2010 entitled ‘Extended Schools programme helps disadvantaged pupils’.
(f) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 19 October 2010 entitled ‘Minister agrees closure of Ballycloughan Primary School, Saintfied’.
(g) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 20 October 2010 entitled ‘Ministers attend All Ireland Children’s Book Programme at St Patrick’s Academy, Lisburn’.
5. Any Other Business
(a) The Chairperson raised the issue of the non-appointment of Councillors to the Education and Library Boards and noted that a response to the Committee’s letter dated 1 October 2010 requesting an update on the appointment process was still outstanding.
Agreed – The Committee would write to remind the Department that this response was still outstanding.
(b) The Chairperson raised the subject of the publication of Transfer 2011 booklets, setting out admissions criteria etc, which are provided to parents of pupils transferring from primary to post-primary and informed the Committee that he understood there may be an issue around the Department of Education’s clearing these for publication.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department requesting an update on progress towards, and timescales for, publication of the booklets.
(c) A Member raised an issue about a development proposal in the Coleraine area.
Agreed – the Committee would consider this issue further as and when correspondence was received on this issue.
(d) A Member asked for clarification regarding whether a consultation document regarding STEM (received by the Member in another capacity) had been in front of Committee.
Agreed – the Clerk would update the Committee at its next meeting.
(e) A Member informed the Committee that he had received a letter from the Northern Ireland Music Therapy Trust requesting an opportunity to present to Committee on the Trust’s work in schools.
Agreed – the Committee would receive a presentation from the Trust and consider the timing of it when reviewing its Forward Work Programme.
(f) The Committee noted an invitation of 20 October 2010 from Strategic Partnership to visit Omagh for a tour of the Lisanelly site, a presentation on the proposal to develop a shared campus for a range of schools and to hold a Committee Meeting in Omagh.
Agreed – the Committee would consider this request again on 3 November 2010 in the context of possible agenda items particularly relevant to a meeting in Omagh.
(g) A Member informed the Committee that a question had been raised at a Primary School Governors’ Association event on Monday 18 October 2010, which the parties’ Education Spokespersons had attended, regarding the legal responsibilities and liabilities of school governors.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to request a written response to the question raised by the Primary School Governors’ Association regarding the legal responsibilities and liabilities of school governors.
6. Presentation from the Integrated Education Fund and Oxford Economics on Oxford Economics’ Paper – ‘Developing the Case for Shared Education’.
Geraldine Tigchelaar, Chairperson IEF, David Thompson, Trustee IEF, Tina Merron, Chief Executive IEF and Mark Magill, Senior Economist, Oxford Economics joined the meeting at 2.07 pm.
The witnesses provided a presentation on the Oxford Economics’ paper – ‘Developing the Case for Shared Education’, a preview of the conclusions of the FGS McClure Waters’ paper entitled, ‘Analysis of Shared and/or Collaborative Education Programmes in Northern Ireland’, and IEF’s response to those papers, and answered Members’ questions on a number of issues, including: the timescale for completion of the more comprehensive research programme scoped in this paper; what options other than ‘Shared Education’ might have been considered; why collaboration under the auspices of ‘Shared Education’ would not run into the same difficulties as collaboration pursuant to the Entitlement Framework, with the same limited success; whether the Report was offering anything which the Bain Report had not already suggested; in the absence of costs and savings figures, what the real purpose of the scoping paper was; whether the Report implicitly accepted a Conservative economic viewpoint; whether the PISA findings in the Report indicated that countries with single education systems performed better than countries where there were different systems operating; the more limited opportunities for shared education in rural as opposed to urban settings; the distinction between ‘Integrated Education’ and integrating education; the danger of dumbing down of ethos and the Controlled Sector’s sense of being under pressure from the Integrated Sector; the challenges faced by Controlled and Maintained Schools with significant proportations of minority community pupils, the importance of encouraging the different sectors to work together in terms of development plans; the strategic social importance of sharing education across communities; the differences in planning capacity between sectors; whether there was any difference between the approach suggested by IEF and shared Church schools; the need for all schools to give consideration to meeting the needs of whatever minorities they have; the Irish-medium primary school in the Republic of Ireland under the auspices of both the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland.
The witnesses left the meeting at 4.12 pm.
7. Draft Statutory Rule - The Education (School Development Plans) Regulations (NI) 2010
The Committee noted the Department of Education’s letter of 13 October 2010 regarding its proposal to make this Statutory Rule.
Agreed – The Committee would request a briefing on the draft Regulations from senior departmental officials for its meeting on 3 November 2010.
8. Forward Work Programme
The Committee noted and agreed the amended Forward Work Programme.
9. Date of the next meeting
The next Committee meeting will be held on Wednesday 3 November 2010 at 2.00pm in Room 21, Parliament Building.
The deputy Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 4.13 pm.
Mr David Hilditch
Deputy Chairperson, Committee for Education
3 November 2010