Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Wednesday, 01 February 2012
Venue: Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings
The meeting commenced at 10.35am in open session.
Members welcomed Mr Mike Nesbitt to the Committee.
The deputy Chairperson thanked Mr David McNarry for his contribution to the Education Committee.
The deputy Chairperson noted the press coverage of the SEN review and the importance of continuing engagement with the Department in relation to this issue.
Ms Boyle joined the meeting at 10.36am.
Members noted a copy of Mr Nesbitt’s updated declaration of interests.
The deputy Chairperson informed members that a member of the public had requested a copy of a Departmental letter dated 5 December in relation to the alleged error on a CCEA maths A level paper.
Agreed – the Committee would forward the Departmental letter to the individual.
Apologies are detailed above
1. Draft Minutes of 25 January 2012
The Committee approved the minutes of the meeting on 25 January 2012.
2. Matters Arising
2.1. The Committee noted correspondence of 24 January 2012 from the Department of Education regarding equality in funding provision for inset training in Northern Ireland.
Agreed – the Committee would forward the response to OCR.
Agreed – the Committee agreed to write to other organisations to gauge their opinion on the matters raised by OCR and the subsequent response from OCR.
2.2. The Committee noted correspondence of 24 January 2012 from the Chairperson of the All Party Group on Ruby regarding funding for coaching in schools.
Agreed – the Committee would share any further correspondence it receives with the All Party Group on this matter.
2.3. The Committee noted correspondence of 24 January 2012 from the Minister for Education regarding the reconstitution of the board of the SEELB.
Agreed – the Committee acknowledged the Minister’s reasoning and agreed that the reconstitution of this board would not be prudent at this point in time.
2.4. The Committee noted correspondence of 26 January 2012 from the Department of Education regarding an extension to the deadline of the draft terms of reference for the Common Funding Scheme Review.
2.5. The Committee noted a table provided by the Clerk summarising further issues from Departmental responses on various initiatives tackling underachievement.
Agreed – the Clerk would incorporate Member’s comments and forward the table to the Department for comment on all issues raised.
2.6. The Committee noted a table provided by the Clerk summarising the issues raised at the Committee meeting on 11 January 2012 in relation to Literacy and Numeracy.
Agreed – the Committee would forward the table to the Department for comment on all issues raised.
3.1. The Committee noted correspondence of 18 January 2012 from Mr Steven Agnew MLA regarding his proposed legislation in relation to children and young people.
Agreed – the Committee would write to Mr Agnew MLA inviting him to brief the Committee on his proposals at a future meeting.
3.2. The Committee noted correspondence of 23 January 2012 from the Committee for OFMdFM enclosing the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland Investing Activity Report for the Department of Education – January 2012.
3.3. The Committee noted correspondence of 24 January 2012 from two individuals regarding the proposed teacher redundancy package.
Agreed – the Committee would forward this letter to the Department for comment.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the individuals advising them that the Committee cannot get involved in individual cases but that their letter has been forwarded to the Department for comment on a policy level and advising them that the Committee is awaiting a response from the Department in relation to further information on severance packages for teachers.
3.4. The Committee noted correspondence of 23 January 2012 from NICCY drawing the Committee’s attention to the guidance notes for the Community Relations, equality and Diversity Education Policy.
3.5. The Committee noted an invitation previously emailed to Members from NIABT to a briefing on social media on 14 February 2012.
3.6. The Committee noted copies of the following reports from Barnardos previously emailed to Members:
- Breaking down barriers to learning primary school based counselling and support;
- Cutting them free;
- A vicious cycle.
3.7 The Committee noted the following Department of Education News Releases previously emailed to Members:
- Attendance at grant-aided primary, post-primary and special schools 2010/11: Summary statistics;
- O’Dowd opens new play park at Holy Rosary Primary School.
Members noted a copy of the departmental synopsis of responses to the SEN consultation which was tabled.
4. Assembly Research briefing on the Schools Councils Inquiry Questionnaire
Assembly Research provided an oral briefing on the paper entitled ‘Survey results for the Committee’s Inquiry into School Councils’.
The Committee noted this paper.
Mr Craig joined the meeting at 10.59am.
Mr Flanagan joined the meeting at 11.00am.
Members suggested areas for further exploration at the next stage of the Inquiry and expressed a wish to contact schools asking them if they have a school council or not.
5. Federation of Passenger Transport briefing on School Transport – Health and Safety Issues
Karen Magill, Federation of Passenger Transport, Martin Lundy, Translink and Michelle Rafferty, Translink joined the Committee at 11.05am and provided the Committee with an oral briefing on Procurement and answered Members’ questions.
Mr Flanagan left the meeting at 11.10am.
Mr Flanagan rejoined the meeting at 11.23a.m.
Mr McDevitt joined the meeting at 11.23am.
Miss McIlveen left the meeting at 11.43am.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of the Environment asking if it has any plans to review operator licensing legislation or if it proposes to introduce any interim measures and asking whether it intends to review the levels of enforcement in relation to operator licensing that are currently in place.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking if it will be collaborating with the Department of the Environment in relation to this issue.
6. Departmental briefing on School Transport Health and Safety Issues
Dorothy Angus, Director of Access, Inclusion and Well-being, Alan McMullan, Deputy Head of School Access Team and Dale Hanna, Chief Transport Officer – SELB joined the Committee at 11.49am and provided the Committee with a briefing on School Transport Health and Safety Issues and answered Members’ questions.
Miss McIlveen rejoined the meeting at 12.05pm.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking for statistics in relation to any incidents and accidents involving any vehicles used by the boards to transport school children from 2006 and for figures in relation to the termination of contracts in the past 5 years.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of the Environment asking for figures on any successful prosecutions for non-compliance of contracts in the past 5 years.
7. Forward Work Programme
The Committee noted the forward work programme.
8. Any Other Business
One Member introduced correspondence from Mr Roy Beggs MLA and Members agreed to include this correspondence in the meeting pack next week for consideration.
Members reiterated the importance of the Department informing schools on how their individual aggregated budgets will be affected over the next 3 years, by the extra funding that has become available, as a matter of urgency.
9. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 8 February 2012 at 10.30 am in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings.
The deputy Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.30pm.
Mervyn Storey MLA
Chairperson, Committee for Education
8 February 2012