Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Wednesday, 07 December 2011
Venue: Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings
The meeting commenced at 10.30 am in open session.
Apologies are detailed above.
1. Draft Minutes of 30 November 2011
The Committee approved the minutes of the meeting on 30 November 2011.
2. Matters Arising
2.1. The Committee noted correspondence of 25 November 2011 from the Committee for the Environment regarding School Transport Health and Safety Issues.
2.2. The Committee noted copy correspondence of 25 November 2011 from the Northern Ireland Youth forum regarding the education circular 1979/10.
2.3. The Committee noted correspondence of 28 November 2011 from the department of Education regarding the education circular 1979/10.
Agreed - The Committee welcomed the resolution of this issue and would write to the Department to request further information on Priorities for Youth policy, including the timeline for policy development, engagement with the Committee and with the NI Youth Forum.
2.4. The Committee noted correspondence of 28 November 2011 from the Department of Education regarding arrangements and responsibility for occupational therapy provision in schools.
Agreed – The Committee would seek the views of the Education and Library Boards on:
- whether occupational therapy is readily available when requested?
- how long is the waiting time?
- how is the amount/duration of therapy required determined? and
whether supply matches demand?
2.5. The Committee noted correspondence of 30 November 2011 from the Department of Education regarding the Post 19 Lobby Group.
Agreed – the Committee would request a copy of the sub-group action plan referred to in DE’s paper for the Committee and details of what further work is to be undertaken by the sub-group?
2.6. The Committee noted correspondence of 20 October 2011 from the Post 19 Lobby Group requesting an opportunity to meet with the Committee to discuss issues around Post 19 transition.
Agreed – the Committee would forward to the Post 19 Lobby Group a copy of the Department’s letter at 2.5 above and inform them of the action agreed.
2.7. The Committee noted correspondence of 22 November 2011 from NICCY thanking the Committee for the opportunity to present evidence on the Committee’s Inquiry into School Councils.
3.1. The Committee noted correspondence of 25 November 2011 from the Ulster Farmers’ Union regarding the impact of the schools audit on rural schools.
Agreed – the Committee would write via the DARD Committee to the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development in relation to the £13M rural poverty fund and whether the Minister considers that it would be appropriate for any of this money to be used to support rural schools.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department to establish whether future workforce management issues are being considered in the Viability Audit and, if not, why not.
Agreed – the Committee would inform the UFU of the action taken and that the Committee would bear this issue in mind when the Committee is briefed on the Viability Audit.
3.2. The Committee noted correspondence of 1 December 2011 from the Department of Education regarding DE’s intention to review the provision of qualification regulations.
3.3. The Committee noted correspondence of 1 December 2011 from the Committee for Employment and Learning regarding the Careers Strategy and asking the Committee to establish why DE officials were unavailable to deliver a briefing to the DEL Committee on 30 November 2011.
Agreed – the Committee would write to DE regarding the unavailability of DE officials to brief the DEL Committee.
Agreed – the Committee would write to DE to request details of its main areas of joint working with DEL.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the DEL Committee informing it of the action taken and that it would propose to liaise with the DEL Committee in relation to areas of joint working.
3.4. The Committee noted correspondence of 1 December 2011 from the Committee for OFMdFM regarding the Children and Young People’s Strategy Outcomes Model.
Agreed – The presentation attached to this correspondence would be circulated in electronic form to all Members.
Agreed – the Committee would ask the Department for details of how DE proposes to contribute to reducing child poverty in line with the Child Poverty Act 2010.
3.5. The Committee noted the following publications:
- New Life Counselling – copy of 18 anniversary book;
- Deloitte – copy of research entitled ‘Local authority national impact: The role for local authorities in the Free Schools and Academies Policy’;
- The Early Years Organisation – report on the contribution of the voluntary, community and independent Early Years sector in NI.
3.6. The Committee noted the following Department of Education News Releases previously emailed to Members:
- Careers Advice for Young People Crucial;
- Improvement in attainment levels encouraging;
- Years 12 and 14 Examination Performance at Post Primary in NI
- Education Minister Opens North/South Conferences for Youth Workers;
- Public Sector Strike Message for Parents;
- Healthy food and healthy profits at Tannaghmore Primary School;
- O’Dowd Briefs Schools on Future Schools budget;
- Participation in full-time education and vocational training by 16 and 17 year olds in Northern Ireland 2010/11;
- O’Dowd addresses Irish Medium conference on special Educational Needs;
- Rights, Responsibility and Respect for all – O’Dowd.
The Deputy Chairperson welcomed the new Departmental Assembly Liaison Officer (DALO), Veronica Bintley, to the meeting.
4. Administration of Medication to Pupils - Assembly Research Briefing
Caroline Perry, Assembly Research Officer, spoke to her Briefing Note for the Committee entitled Administration of medication to pupils and answered Members’ questions.
Agreed - the Committee would write to the teachers unions in relation to clarify their position on the issue and reasons supporting it.
Agreed – the Committee would write to DHSSPS, with the approval of the DHSSPS Committee, to request details of the evidence which DHSSPS relied upon in satisfying itself that the Guidance Supporting Pupils with Medication Needs is fit for purpose and asking DHSSPS to highlight any evidence which demonstrates that the Guidance is working effectively in terms of delivering satisfactory outcomes for pupils.
Agreed – the Committee would write to DE to ask for details of the discussion of this issue at the five-board Regional Strategy Group and how that Group plans to progress this issue in terms of the agreed way forward which came out of the meeting between representatives of Diabetes UK, DHSSPS, E&LBs and concerned parents (referred to in DE’s letter date 27 October 2011).
5. Departmental Briefing on findings from PEDU Stage 1 and Stage 2 Reports
John McGrath, Deputy Secretary and Katrina Godfrey, Director of Planning and Performance joined the meeting at 11.01am, provided the Committee with an oral briefing on the findings from the PEDU Stage 1 and Stage 2 Reports and answered Members’ questions.
The Deputy Chairperson expressed the Committee’s disappointment at the late delivery, and not for the first time, of the Department’s papers for today’s briefings and the Committee’s sense that this indicated a lack of respect for the Committee.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group for its view on the option of sending officials away if departmental papers for briefings were not received on time.
Agreed – officials would provide the Committee with the following:
- The number of staff employed by each E&LB;
- The number of additional staff engaged by CCMS for the Post Primary Review and the number still engaged;
- The Department’s schedule of procurement activity;
- Details of the operation of the claw back mechanism in relation to a specific school closure in the North Antrim area where a school was built on non-DE land and had closed relatively quickly.
Agreed – the Committee would schedule a further briefing from officials when the PEDU II Report has been agreed and published.
Miss McIlveen left the meeting at 11.08 am
Miss McIlveen rejoined the meeting at 11.17am
Mr Flanagan left the meeting at 11.26 am
Mrs Hale left the meeting at 11.30 am
Mr Lunn left the meeting at 11.32
Mr Flanagan rejoined the meeting at 11.35 am
Mrs Hale rejoined the meeting at 11.36 am
Mrs Dobson left the meeting at 11.37 am
Mr McKay left the meeting at 11.40 am
Mrs Dobson rejoined the meeting at 11.45 am
Mr McKay and Mr Lunn rejoined the meeting at 11.57 am
6. Departmental briefing on the draft Programme for Government
John McGrath, Deputy Secretary and Katrina Godfrey, Director of Planning and Performance remained at table and provided the Committee with an oral briefing on the draft Programme for Government and answered Members’ questions.
Agreed – the Committee’s correspondence to stakeholders requesting their views on the Draft Programme for Government would include a summary of what the Committee has learned to date.
Mrs Dobson left the meeting at 12.00 noon and rejoined the meeting at 12.12 pm
Mr McKay left the meeting at 12.13 pm and rejoined the meeting at 12.21
Mr Lunn left the meeting at 12.25 pm
7. Forward Work Programme
The Committee noted and approved the draft Forward Work Programme for January to March 2012.
8. Any other business
A Member welcomed the Early Years organisation’s report noted at 3.5 above and proposed that it be invited to brief the Committee on its report.
Agreed – this would consider this as part of the Early Years Strategic Alliance presentation on the Early Years Manifesto on 29 February 2012.
9. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 11 January 2012 at 10.30 am in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.30 pm.
Mervyn Storey MLA
Chairperson, Committee for Education
14 December 2011