Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Venue: Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings

The meeting commenced at 10.46 am in open session.

The Committee noted the tabled items.

Chairperson’s Business

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Draft Minutes of 7 September 2011

The Committee approved the minutes of the 7 September 2011.

3. Matters Arising

a. The Committee noted correspondence of 26 July 2011 from the Integrated Education Fund (IEF) enclosing a proposal to hold a Senate Chamber debate.

Agreed – the Chairperson would write to the IEF to relay the Committee’s decision on the proposal.

b. The Committee noted correspondence of 8 September 2011 from the Committee for Finance and Personnel on the monitoring of Departmental efficiency plans.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education requesting an explanation for the shortfall against its efficiency savings target.

c. The Committee noted correspondence of 18 July 2011 from the Belfast Education and Library Board on the closure of Vere Foster Primary School.

d. The Committee noted correspondence of 8 September 2011 from Barnardo’s regarding information on the Executive’s Committee for Children and Young People and its sub-group on Early Years.

Agreed – the Committee would consider Barnardo’s request for information again when a response has been received by the Committee from OFMDFM.

Agreed – the Chair would circulate to Members, via the Committee office the response from the Department to an Assembly question he has asked on this subject, once it has been received.`

4. Correspondence

a. The Committee noted correspondence 2 September 2011 from Mr R Moses on behalf of the interim Board of Governors regarding the merger of Strabane Grammar School and Strabane High School.

Agreed – the Committee would consider options for this visit at its meeting on 21 September 2011.

b. The Committee noted copy correspondence of 6 September 2011 from the Department of Education enclosing the Every School a Good School progress Report on the implementation plan 2010/11.

Agreed – the Committee would commission Assembly Research to evaluate the progress made.

c. The Committee noted copy correspondence of 7 September 2011 from Mr I Houston regarding prompt payments.

Agreed – the Committee would forward this correspondence to the Department and request that officials address this issue during the Education Budget update briefing on 12 October 2011.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Committee for Finance and personnel to ascertain DFP’s current policy on prompt payment and whether there have been any recent changes;

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Finance and Personnel Committee to request details of any work they have done on the issue of prompt payment.

d. The Committee noted correspondence of 8 September 2011 from the Public Accounts Committee regarding correspondence received from an anonymous whistle-blower about procurement contracts within the Western Education and Library Board.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department enclosing a copy of this correspondence, advising the Department that the Committee has received a copy from PAC and noting that it had been copied to Minister of Education, asking the Department what action is being taken on foot of this correspondence and requesting to be copied in on the outcome of any investigation or inquiry.

e. Subject to the matters specifically agreed below, Members noted the following conferences, invitations and meeting requests:

  • Bangor Central Integrated Primary School – Invitation to visit school

Agreed – individual Members wishing to visit the school should inform the Committee Clerk;

  • NIABT briefing on National Asset Management Agency (NAMA);
  • HSC Public Health Agency – Launch of Belfast Drugs & Alcohol Working Group Report.

f. The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel regarding Budget Flexibility and Monitoring Rounds.

Agreed – the Committee would commission briefings for the October 2011 and January 2012 monitoring rounds.

g. Members noted the following press releases previously emailed to Members:

  • Decision on the Establishment of a Nursery Unit at Bunscoil Bheanna Boirche, Castlewellan;
  • Decision on the establishment of a Nursery Unit at Gaelscoil Éanna, Glengormley;
5. Literacy & Numeracy Strategy

Adrian Arbuthnot, Director of Curriculum, Qualifications & Standards, Chris Hughes, Head of Standards and Improvement Team, and Lisa Boal, Standards and Improvement Team, provided an oral briefing to the Committee on the Department’s Literacy and Numeracy Strategy and answered Members’ questions.

Agreed – the Committee would write to Department to request details of the number of teachers and principals dismissed or removed from their position in the last five years due to poor performance.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department to remind officials of their offer to provide the Committee with copies of the research on class sizes and outcomes referred to during the briefing.

Mr D McKay left the meeting at 11.31 am

Mr D McNarry left the meeting at 11.37 am.

Mr D McKay re-joined the meeting at 11.46 am

Mr D McKay left the meeting at 11.48 am

Mr C McDevitt joined the meeting at 12.15 pm

6. Middletown Centre for Autism

The Committee considered the 2007-11Education Committee’s papers on the Middletown Centre together with extracts from NIAO reports commenting on Middletown.

Agreed – the Committee would write to inform the Department of Education that the Committee is considering a visit to Middletown; and to ask the Department what action has been taken to address the issues raised by the NIAO in the General Reports for 2007-08 and 2009.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Minister to ask what “Phase II” of Middletown involves, when it will happen and whether capital build is required at Phase II.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Minister to request an update on co-funding from the Republic of Ireland and an indication of the current Minister for Education and Science’s view of future funding of Middletown.

Agreed – the Chairperson would circulate to other Committee Members, via the Committee office, additional papers he has regarding Middletown.

7. Forward Work Programme

Agreed – The Committee noted and approved the draft Forward Work Programme.

Agreed - The Committee would invite Business in the Community, the Construction Employers Federation, the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations and the Rural Community Network to meet the Committee in the Long Gallery Parliament Buildings on 12 October 2011.

8. Any other business

The Chairperson expressed the Committee’s thanks to John Leonard for his work as Departmental Assembly Liaison Officer over the last few years and wished him well for the future.

9. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 21 September 2011 at 10.30 am in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.35pm.

Mervyn Storey MLA 
Chairperson, Committee for Education
21 September 2011

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