Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Venue: Senate Chamber

In absence of the Chairperson or Deputy Chairperson the meeting commenced at 10.38 am in open session with the Clerk in the Chair for the purpose of electing a Member to act as Chairperson.

The Clerk called on Mrs Dobson to speak. Mrs Dobson proposed that Miss McIlveen do take the chair of the Committee. Mrs Hale seconded the proposal and, in the absence of other nominations, the Clerk asked Miss McIlveen to take the chair.

Mr D McKay joined the meeting at 10.40am

Mr C McDevitt joined the meeting at 10.42 am.

Chairperson’s Business

The Acting Chairperson made reference to the Committee’s stakeholder event held on 5 October 2011. The Acting Chairperson proposed and the Committee:

Agreed – to copy the Business in the Community presentation to the Department of Education asking for comment and for any information they may hold on similar organisations that provide this type of intervention.

Agreed – to write to the Department of Education requesting an update on the review of capital builds and information on what other if any finance schemes the Department may be considering to progress capital builds.

Agreed – to write to NCPTA to ask that they provide the Committee with figures regarding the number of PTA’s that they are associated with.

Agreed – to write to the Department of Education to ask if they hold figures on the number of PTAs and if they do to request that they provide the Committee with the details of these PTAs.

The Acting Chairperson proposed and the Committee:

Agreed – to circulate correspondence to Members considered by the previous Committee on the criteria for determining capital projects to proceed in 2010/11 and 2011/12 dated 28 October 2011.

Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

1. Draft Minutes of 12 October 2011

The Committee approved the minutes of the 12 October 2011.

2. Matters Arising

a. The Committee noted correspondence of 7 October 2011 from the Northern Ireland Youth Forum thanking the Committee for the opportunity to present.

b. The Committee noted correspondence of 12 October 2011 from the Northern Ireland Youth Forum enclosing a copy of their e-bulletin.

c. The Committee noted correspondence of 10 October 2011 from the Department of Education enclosing a copy of the Statement by the Minister for Education to the Assembly on the North South Ministerial Council education sectoral meeting held on 21 September 2011.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to request information about and details on DE’s financial contribution to Maths Week Ireland and Children’s Book Ireland.

d. The Committee noted correspondence of 10 October 2011 from the Department of Education regarding joint working with DHSSPS in relation to Early Years and pre-school.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to request the status and the planned way forward of the joint Sub-Committee on Early Years to include detail on how many times the Committee has met since it was established in January 2009.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to recommend that it actively seeks the views of those parents who did not participate in the second stage of the pre-school admissions process to find out why they didn’t participate in the process so this could be included in the Review of Pre-School Admissions.

e. The Committee noted correspondence of 10 October 2011 from the Department of Education regarding the procurement of contracts within the WELB.

Agreed- the Committee would forward a copy of this letter to the Public Accounts Committee.

f. The Committee noted copy correspondence of 10 October 2011 from the Department of Education regarding post project evaluations.

Agreed – the Committee would forward a copy of this correspondence to the Committee for Finance and Personnel.

g. The Committee noted correspondence of 10 October 2011 from the Department of Education regarding school transport health and safety issues.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to suggest that more information should be made available to parents and teaching staff regarding the process of reporting breaches of health and safety to enable more targeted inspections to take place.

h. The Committee noted correspondence of 12 October 2011 from the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety regarding the administration of medication to pupils.

Agreed – the Committee would re-consider this correspondence at its meeting of 7 December 2011.

i. The Committee noted correspondence of 12 October 2011 from the Department of Education enclosing a response from the Minister for Education to Mr P Henry, Chairperson of Coleraine Primary Principals’ Group regarding convergence and primary school funding.

j. The Committee noted correspondence of 13 October 2011 from the Minister for Education regarding Middletown Centre for Autism.

Agreed – the Committee would re-consider this correspondence when they re-visit the issue of the Middletown Centre for Autism.

Agreed – the Clerk would explore the possibility of a visit to the Middletown Centre for Autism before the Committee receives an issue paper on the issue.

k. The Committee noted correspondence of 13 October from the Minister for Education regarding newly qualified teachers.

Agreed – the Committee agreed to extend it request of 17 October 2011 to the Department of Education to include clarity on the grant arrangements for schools to offer premature retirement for teaching and non-teaching staff especially in relation to the costs involved and the budget projections.

l. The Committee noted correspondence of 13 October 2011 from the Department of Education regarding the implications of the Court of Appeal decision in the Henry Brothers case.

m. The Committee noted correspondence of 14 October 2011 from the Department of Education regarding European issues.

Agreed – the Committee would forward this letter to the Committee for OFMdFM.

n. The Committee noted correspondence of 18 October 2011 from the Department of Education regarding the C2K filtering policy.

o. The Committee noted legal advice dated 18 October 2011 from the Assembly Legal Team regarding the appointment of the SEELB.

3. Correspondence

a. The Committee noted correspondence of 7 October 2011 from Mr A Campbell enclosing the ‘Education Made More Accessible’ Report.

Agreed – the Committee would forward this Report to the Department of Education for comment.

b. The Committee noted copy correspondence of 12 October 2011 from Mr R Scott, Principal, Braidside Integrated Primary School to the Minister for Education regarding the housing of the school in mobile classrooms.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking to be copied in on the Minister for Education’s response to Mr Campbell.

Agreed – the Committee would also ask the Department for an updated position on the new capital process that has been put in place for schools.

Agreed – the Committee would write to Mr Campbell to inform him of this decision.

c. The Committee noted correspondence of 13 October 2011from the NCPCC asking the Committee to sponsor the launch of its new Childline Schools Service.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the NSPCC to inform it of the decision to sponsor this event.

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

  • All Party Group on Children and Young People – invitation to launch of ‘’Shaping Futures; Investing in Children, Families and Communities’ DVD and the early Years Strategic Alliance Manifesto.
  • Children’s Law Centre–invitation to training event.

e. The Committee noted the following press releases previously emailed to Members:

  • Education Minister seeks views on possible changes to GCSEs;
  • O’Dowd visits Ballyoran Primary School;
  • O’Dowd visits Wellington College, Belfast.

f. The Committee noted correspondence of 14 October 2011 from Mr J Nicholson regarding an unacknowledged error in CCEA A level mathematics paper.

Agreed – the Committee agreed to forward this correspondence to the Department of Education for a response on the specific issues raised by Mr Nicholson and inform him accordingly.

g. The Committee noted correspondence of 17 October 2011 from the rural Community Network enclosing a copy of their policy discussion document entitled ‘Small Rural Schools in Northern Ireland’

h. The Committee noted correspondence of 4 October 2011 from Save the Children enclosing a briefing paper entitled ‘Making Work Pay – The Childcare Trap’.

i. The Committee noted the following publication:

  • SEELB – Annual Report and Accounts 2009-10

j. The Committee noted the following conferences, invitations and meeting requests:

  • Include Youth – invitation to annual conference;
  • Spirit of Enniskillen Trust – invitation to launch of Explore 2012;
  • IEF – invitation to debate on the motion ‘This house believes that the time is right for a fully integrated system of education’;
  • The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award – invitation to NI conference 2011.

k. The Committee noted the following press releases previously emailed to Members:

  • Re-issue: O’Dowd hosts groundbreaking Twitter Q&A;
  • Good grasp of numeracy vital for young people – O’Dowd.
4. Committee Inquiry into School Councils

The Committee agreed to the launch of its inquiry into School Councils.

5. Departmental briefing on Area Planning and Sustainable Schools

John McGrath, Deputy Secretary, Diarmuid McLean, Director of Investment and Infrastructure and Lorraine Finlay, Head of Area Planning and Policy joined the meeting at 11.03am and provided an oral briefing to the Committee on area planning and sustainable schools.

Agreed –the Committee would write to the Minister for Education asking that it be provided with a copy of the Area Based Planning draft Terms of Reference.

Agreed –officials agreed to provide the Committee with the Area Based Planning terms of reference when they become available.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking that it be provided with information on how DE plans to implement the viability audit and decisions resulting from this, particularly in terms of the development and implementation of the area planning process.

Agreed – the Committee would ask the Department for information on what are the legislative/governance issues, constraints or barriers to developing/adopting a federation type model for schools.

Agreed – officials would provide the Committee with a list of physically how many schools can hold the pupil numbers recommended in the Bain Report for each school type; this information should be provided in raw numbers and as a proportion of the total schools for each type.

6. Briefing from the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists

Alison McCullough, Policy Officer, Lorraine Coulter, Speech and Language Therapist joined the meeting at 12.14pm and provided an oral briefing on early intervention and the identification and support of speech language and communication needs, Special Educational Needs and evidence based practice and value for money. The witnesses also answered Members questions.

Mrs B Hale left the meeting at 12.27pm.

Mr P Flanagan left the meeting at 12.41pm.

Agreed – witnesses would provide the Committee with a copy of the document ‘Speech, language and communication needs: Workforce Planning’.

Mrs B Hale re-joined the meeting at 12.58pm.

Mrs J Dobson left the meeting at 12.58pm.

Mr D McKay left the meeting at 1.00pm.

Mrs J Dobson re-joined the meeting at 1.05pm.

7. Written Departmental briefing paper on Post-Primary Transfer Arrangements.

The Committee considered a written briefing paper from the Department on Post-Primary transfer Arrangements.

Agreed – the Committee would commission an oral briefing on Post-Primary Transfer at a later date.

8. Forward Work Programme

Agreed – The Committee would re-consider the proposed changes to the Forward Work Programme at its next meeting.

The Acting Chairperson reminded Members of their agreed visit to Roe Valley and Strabane on 25 and 26 October 2011.

Agreed – Members would receive all details including the arrangements for travel and the itinerary for this visit on Friday 21 October 2011.

The Acting Chairperson reminded Members of their scheduled visit to Fleming Fulton, Harberton, Oakwood and Glenveagh Schools on Wednesday 9 November 2011.

Agreed – the Committee would be provided with packs for this visit on Monday 7 November.

9. Any other business
10. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 16 November 2011 at 10.30 am in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings.

The Acting Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.11pm.

Mervyn Storey MLA 
Chairperson, Committee for Education
16 November 2011

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