Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 09 May 2012

Venue: The Senate Chamber

The meeting commenced at 10.29am in open session. 

Apologies 

Apologies are detailed above.

Chairpersons Business

The Chairperson reminded members that they agreed to look into commissioning a special adviser to deal with the subject of the Viability Audit, and that there has now been an eligible candidate identified.

Agreed – the Committee Clerk would draft the Terms of Reference for the special adviser and bring it in front of the Committee at its next meeting.

Mr Kinahan joined the meeting at 10.31am. 

Ms McIlveen joined the meeting at 10.31am. 

Mr McKay joined the meeting at 10.31am.

The Chairperson reminded members that they discussed the possibility of conducting an inquiry in relation to pre-school education. The Chairperson suggested that the Committee look into commissioning a special adviser to initially draw together information on this issue.

Agreed – that a special adviser is employed to carry out this work under the following Terms of Reference:

  • What are the beneficial outcomes of pre-school education?
  • Is nursery provision education or childcare?
  • Is the lack of a 0-6 Early Years Strategy from the Department detrimental to children in Northern Ireland?

 

The Chairperson informed members that the Committee for Employment and Learning will be holding a debate in plenary on Tuesday 15 May 2012 on the Dissolution of DEL and the Transfer of Functions. The Chairperson also informed members that the Committee for Employment and Learning report will be emailed this evening and embargoed until the debate next week.

1.    Draft Minutes of 2 May 2012

The Committee approved the minutes of the meeting on 2 May 2012.

2.    Matters Arising

2.1. The Committee noted correspondence of 27 April 2012 from the Committee for Employment and Learning regarding a proposed joint informal meeting on the Teacher Education Review.

Agreed – that a date is arranged for this meeting.

2.2. The Committee noted correspondence of 25 April 2012 from the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety regarding occupational therapy provision in schools.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Health Minister asking that a copy of the report from the Public Health Authority is made available once drafted.

2.3. The Committee noted correspondence of 20 April 2012 from the Department of Education regarding the Teacher Education Review.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking for more detail to be provided to the Committee in relation to the proposed scheme, whereby newly qualified teachers not in full time, permanent teaching posts will have access to sufficient teaching experience in order to facilitate the further development of their teaching competences and completion of induction when it has been drafted.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking how this issue will interrelate with the Teacher Education Review.  

2.4. The Committee noted correspondence of 30 April 2012 from the Department of Education regarding prompt payments.

Agreed – the Committee would revisit this subject in the autumn term as the new mechanisms referred to will have been tested and the figures for the summer months will be available.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the papers to Mr Houston, advising him of how the Committee intends dealing with this issue.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking them in future papers relating to the payment of invoices to set the percentage value beside the monetary value instead of on separate pages.

Ms McIlveen left the meeting at 10.42am.

2.5. The Committee noted correspondence of 27 April 2012 from the Committee for Social Development regarding the Social Security Advisory Committee review of passported benefits.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the correspondence to the Department for comment on the aspects that are relevant to Education and asking how they have contributed to the review proposals to date.

2.6. The Committee noted correspondence of 2 May 2012 from the Department of Education regarding the rate of incremental progression for teaching staff.

2.7. The Committee noted correspondence of 2 May from the Committee for Finance and Personnel regarding the role of PEDU in PfG monitoring.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking when it intends to report on Programme for Government progress against targets, both in-year and end year.

Mr Flannigan joined the meeting at 10.44am.

3.    Correspondence

3.1. The Committee noted correspondence of 26 April 2012 from the Department of Education inviting them to a reception, on 13 June 2012, to celebrate outstanding and very good schools and pre-school providers.

Ms McIlveen rejoined the meeting at 10.47am.

3.2. The Committee noted correspondence of 26 April 2012 from Carrickfergus College regarding the concerns regarding the Viability Audit.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking why decisions like this continue to be taken whilst the Viability Audit and Area Planning are still on-going.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking if it is going to issue guidelines to Boards of Governors and Senior Management Teams, in advance of releasing information on Area Plans, in relation to the communication of information to parents and communities.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking if it is planning to put mechanisms in place to control the leakage of information, prior to publication of reports, and if they will be taking any action against individuals who leak information.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Education and Library Boards asking them if they are planning to put mechanisms in place to control the leakage of information and if they intend to take any action against individuals who leak information and if they have submitted any Area Plans to the Department.

3.3. The Committee noted correspondence of 1 May 2012 from the Department of Education regarding rugby funding.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the correspondence to the All Party Woking Group on Rugby and the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking for a breakdown of the 37,000 participants into individual sports that form part of this initiative and the ratio of male to female children that are participating.

Agreed – the Committee would hold a stakeholder event regarding this issue and invite the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure and relevant sporting organisations in the Autumn session.

3.4. The Committee noted correspondence of 27 April 2012 from the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety enclosing a briefing paper from Business in the Community.

Agreed – the Committee would forward this correspondence to the Education Minister as requested.

3.5. The Committee noted correspondence of 1 May 2012 from the BELB regarding Community Use of Schools.

Agreed – the Committee would forward this correspondence to the Departmental Working Group and Mr David McNarry MLA.

3.6. The Committee noted the following DE News Releases, previously emailed to Members.

  • Minister approves the amalgamation of ST Aidan’s and St Bernadette’s Primary Schools, Belfast;
  • Minister approves the amalgamation of Edmund and Star of the Sea Primary Schools, Belfast.

 

4.     Departmental briefing on Food in Schools Policy

Eve Stewart, Head of Participation and Parenting Team, Jill Fitzgerald, Deputy Principal and Jennifer McBratney, Regional Food in Schools Coordinator joined the meeting at 11.04am and provided the Committee with a briefing on the Food in Schools Policy.

Mr McKay left the meeting at 11.25am.

Mr Flannigan left the meeting at 11.27am.

Mr Craig left the meeting at 11.30am.

Mr Flannigan rejoined the meeting at 11.36am.

Mr Craig rejoined the meeting at 11.49am. 

Agreed – the Department would provide the Committee with information on the percentage of time pupils spend on cooking in home economics during the school year, the percentage of pupils that study home economics as a key stage 4 subject and the lunch time arrangements for pupils in post primary schools attending further education colleges.

Agreed – Research and Information Services would provide the Committee with information on the practice of offering free school meals to primary school children in other UK jurisdictions.

5.     Research briefing on School Councils Inquiry

Caroline Perry joined the meeting at 11.50am and provided the Committee with a briefing on the School Councils Inquiry.

Mrs Boyle left the meeting at 11.52am.

6.     Committee Discussion on the SEN and Inclusion Review Event on 2 May 2012

The Committee noted correspondence of 3 may 2012 from the Department of Education on the SEN and Inclusion Review. 

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking for information on the number of children diagnosed with dyslexia in schools, broken down by primary, post-primary and special educational needs schools; what support is given to children with dyslexia; what training is given to teachers in order to support children with dyslexia in mainstream schools. In addition the Committee would request details of the evidence that backs up the statement in Mr Justice Treacy’s judgement that ‘intervention for numeracy and literacy difficulties have an 80% success rate if provided at the age of six to seven, but only a 20% chance of success if delayed until the age of 10’.

To Note - the Committee have previously written to the Department asking them how the result of the Justice Treacy judgement will affect their working practices and provision of care to children with special educational needs.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Childrens’ Law Centre asking for clarity on Mr Justice Treacy’s finding ‘In exercising these powers it is entitled to have appropriate regard to the resources it has available to it to meet non statutory obligations and therefore to prioritize its interventions in a fair and appropriate way’.

7.     Forward Work Programme

Members considered and agreed the draft forward work programme.

8.    Any Other Business

One member suggested that the Committee should look into the issue of inspections of schools.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department informing them that the Committee intends to invite the new Chief Inspector for schools to brief the Committee in the Autumn term to brief the Committee on several issues including, a consistency of approach across schools, an explanation as to why some schools are given notice of an inspection and some are not and the perceived ‘heavy handedness’ of some inspectors.                                                                                                        

9.    Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting 

The Chairperson reminded members that a second informal event, this time on the administration of medication to children in schools, will take place after the meeting next week at 2.00pm in the Brasserie.

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 16 May 2012 at 10.30 am in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings. 

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.10pm.

Mervyn Storey MLA
Chairperson, Committee for Education
16 May 2012

Find Your MLA

Locate your local MLA

Find MLA

News and Media Centre

Read press releases, watch live and archived video.

Find out more

Follow the Assembly

Keep up to date with what's happening at the Assembly.

Find out more

Subscribe

Enter your email address to keep up to date

Sign up