Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Venue: Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings

The meeting commenced at 10.30am in public session. 

1.  Ministerial Briefing on (a) SEN and Inclusion Review & (b) Additional Funding for Schools

The Minister for Education, Dorothy Angus, Director of Access, Inclusion and Wellbeing and Irene Murphy, Head of Special Needs and Inclusion Review Team joined the Committee at 10.32am and provided the Committee with an oral briefing on the SEN and Inclusion Review and answered Members questions. 

Dorothy Angus and Irene Murphy left the meeting at 11.16am and Trevor Connolly, Director of Finance joined the Minister who briefed the Committee on the £120M additional funding for schools over the next three years and  answered Members’ questions.

Mr. McNarry left the meeting at 11.32am.

Agreed – officials would provide the Committee with information on the enhanced 90 week severance package discussed with the teachers’ unions. 

Agreed – officials would provide the Committee with information on the different types of severance packages within education including specific detail on how arrangements and payments vary.

Agreed – Committee staff would prepare a paper for the Committee comparing the issues raised by the previous Education Committee in relation to the SEN and Inclusion Review and policy proposals suggested by the Minister in today’s meeting.

Miss McIlveen left the meeting at 11.38am.

2.  Committee response to the Committee for OFMdFM on the Draft Programme for Government.

The Committee discussed and agreed a number of amendments to its draft response to the Committee for OFMdFM and agreed it as amended.

Agreed – the Committee would write to DE to request that officials make specific reference to the Pre-School Admissions Policy in its briefing on Early Years to the Committee on 29 February 2012.

Miss McIlveen re-joined the meeting at 11.45am.

3. Draft minutes of 11 January 2012.

The Committee approved the minutes of the meeting on 11 January 2012.

4. Matters Arising

4.1. The Committee noted correspondence of 3 January 2012 from the Minister for Education regarding the appointment of Governors to Voluntary Grammar Schools. 

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Minister to ask whether he considers it necessary to balance the risk of further delay in filling governor vacancies against the public benefit in having a choice of candidates for school governors.

Agreed – the Committee would ask the Minister what is the rationale (other than compliance with the principles of the Commissioner for Public Appointments Code of Practice) for not appointing a suitable candidate to the position of school governor because there was not a choice of suitable candidates.

Agreed – the Committee would also request information on the number of school governor vacancies, across all categories of governors and all sectors.

4.2. The Committee noted correspondence of 5 January 2012 from the Department of Education regarding school transport health and safety issues.

Agreed – the Committee would forward DE’s correspondence to the Federation of Passenger Transport for comment in advance of the Committee’s evidence session on School Transport Health and Safety on 1 February 2012.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department to ask that officials provide more detail on the number of random health and safety checks conducted by the ELBs in their briefing to the Committee on 1 February 2012.

4.3. The Committee noted correspondence of 5 January 2012 from the Department of Education regarding Healthy Cities Belfast.

4.4. The Committee noted correspondence of 5 January 2012 from the Department of Education regarding the Reservoirs Bill.

4.5. The Committee noted correspondence of 9 January 2012 from the Department of Education regarding the Youth Forum – Circular 1979/10.

4.6. The Committee noted correspondence of 9 January 2012 from the Department of Education regarding the Education Skills Authority (ESA).

4.7. The Committee noted correspondence of 22 December 2011 from the Belfast Boys Model School acknowledging the Committee’s work.

4.8. The Committee noted correspondence regarding the Administration of Medication to Pupils of

  • 8 December 2011 from ATL (NI),
  • 16 December 2011 from the NAHT,
  • 5 January 2012 from ASCL,
  • 23 December 2011 and 12 January 2012 from the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety, and
  • 8 and 22 December 2011 from the Department of Education

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department to ask for the precise wording of the indemnity that is provided to volunteer school staff and their school principals in respect of claims which might arise as a result of action by a member of staff acting as a volunteer in administering medication to a pupil.

Agreed – the Committee would request that the Department provide information on how many schools employ a school nurse.

Agreed – the Committee would consider a visit to a hospital school when reviewing its forward work programme.

4.9.   The Committee noted correspondence of 9 December 2011 from BELB, 5 December 2011 from NEELB and 16 December 2011 from the Department of Education regarding the impact of industrial action.

4.10. The Committee noted correspondence of 16 January 2012 from the Department of Education regarding the Budget 2011-15: Additional Funding for Schools.

4.11. The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Education enclosing a copy of the Review of the Pre-School Admissions Arrangements.

Mr. McDevitt left the meeting at 11.59.

Mrs. Hale left the meeting at 12.03pm.

5.    Correspondence

5.1  The Committee noted correspondence of 23 November 2011 from the Primary School Governors Association (NI) requesting to meet with the Committee to discuss the role of primary school governors.

 

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Primary School Governors Association to ask that they provide more detail about the specific issues they wish to address.

Agreed – the Committee would write to schools leaders organisations extending the deadline for comments on the Aggregated Schools Budget (ASB) asking that their responses reflect the additional monies announced by the Minister for the ASB.

5.2   The Committee noted correspondence of 5 January 2012 from the Joint Consultative Forum enclosing an agenda and papers for their next meeting.

5.3   The Committee noted correspondence of 11 January 2012 from OCR Ireland regarding equality in funding provision for Inset training in Northern Ireland.

Agreed – the Committee would forward this correspondence to the Department for comment on the issues raised and inform OCR Ireland accordingly.

5.4  The Committee noted the following invitations:

  • Working Together for Change Conference - from Mencap
  • Voice of Young People in Care – Care Leaver’s question time – from Basil McCrea MLA
  • What are they planning: Friends of the Earth – from the Minister of the Environment

5.5  The Committee noted correspondence of 6 January 2012 from St Mary’s Limavady enclosing a copy of their termly newsletter.

5.6  The Committee noted the following Department of Education News Releases previously emailed to Members:

  • O’Dowd approves closure of Aghavilly Primary School and Keady Primary School;
  • Ministers agree on measures to alleviate pressures on schools’ budgets.


6.     Forward Work Programme

7.    Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 25 January 2012 at 10.30 am in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.15 pm.

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