Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Venue: Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings

The meeting commenced at 10.42am in open session.

The Chairperson welcomed Members to the first meeting of the new Committee for Education.

The Chairperson reported to the Committee that he and the Deputy Chairperson had had a positive meeting with the Minister of Education, the Permanent Secretary and the Deputy Secretary over lunch on 24 May 2011.

Agreed: The Committee would normally meet in open session unless there was a business need to do otherwise.

Members noted papers which were tabled for consideration later in the meeting.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Committee Membership

The list of Committee Members was noted.

3. Staff Contact Details

The Chairperson introduced the Committee Clerk to the Committee. The Clerk introduced the other members of the Committee staff and the Committee noted the contact details provided.

The Chairperson thanked the outgoing Clerk to the Committee for Education, John Simmons, for all his assistance to the previous Committee and wished him well for the future.

4. Declaration of Members’ Interests

The Committee noted the relevant guidance and Members declared the following interests:

Chairperson – Governor of Ballymoney High School;

Governor of the Model Integrated Primary School

Trevor Lunn – Governor of a Nursery School

Michelle McIlveen – Governor of Castle Gardens Primary School

5. Assembly Procedures

The Committee noted the following guidance documents:

  • Guide to the powers and operation of statutory committees for chairpersons and members
  • Guide to the role of the chairperson
  • Guide for members on the role and functions of the Committee Office
  • Providing an effective Research Service to Committees – Good Practice Guidelines

and in particular the guidance in relation to privilege and sub-judice.

6. Timescales for interaction between committees and departments

The Committee noted the Guidance on Assembly committees’ timescales for interaction between committees and departments.

7. Previous Education Committee’s Legacy Report

The Committee noted the previous Education Committee’s Legacy Report.

Agreed : the Committee would consider the Legacy Report later in the meeting when considering its forward work programme.

8. Subordinate Legislation

The Committee noted the guidance on Subordinate Legislation.

Agreed: That the Committee for Education, under Standing Order 43, resolves to delegate to the Examiner of Statutory Rules the technical scrutiny of statutory rules referred to the Committee under the above mentioned Standing Order.

The Committee further resolves that in carrying out this function the Examiner shall be authorised to report his technical findings on each statutory rule to the Assembly, and to the relevant Department, as well as to the Committee itself and to publish his report.

9. Department of Education – First Day Brief

The Committee noted the Department’s briefing paper for this session and received an oral briefing from the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Education, Mr John McGrath, who provided an overview on the responsibilities of the Department, its structure, including NDPBs, the issues facing the Department and answered Members’ questions.

Mr T Lunn left the meeting at 11.34am.

Agreed: The Committee would write to the Department to formally request the additional information, asked for by Members or offered by the official, on the issues raised during the briefing.

Mr D McNarry left the meeting at 11.42am

10. Research and Information Services

The Committee received a briefing from Caroline Perry, Research Officer and Claire Smith, Assistant Librarian, on the resources and support which Assembly Research and Information Services (RaISe) could provide to the Committee and to individual Members, and answered Members questions.

Mr D McNarry rejoined the meeting at 11.52am.

11. Forward Work Programme

The Committee noted the revised draft forward work programme tabled this morning.

Agreed : the Committee would take the detailed briefings as set out in the draft forward work programme and would meet at 10.30am on the dates specified, unless there was a business need to commence earlier.

Agreed : the Committee would consider the previous Committee’s Legacy Report again at its meeting on 1 June 2011.

Agreed: The Committee would request a research briefing paper from RaISe on public procurement in relation to the education sector for consideration at the Committee meeting on 22 June 2011.

Agreed : the Chairperson would attend the Sentinus Young Innovators Event at the Odyssey on 14 June 2011; other Members would notify the Committee staff if they wished to attend.

Agreed : the Committee would consider holding a stakeholder event prior to the summer recess; the Clerk would report back to the Committee on options for the meeting on 1 June 2011 and circulate a draft list of invitees for Members suggestions.

12. Correspondence

a. The Committee noted correspondence from the Minister of Education dated 24 March 2011 in relation to DHSSPS resumption of responsibility for all relevant functions relating to child-minding and day-care provision from 1 April 2011.

Agreed : the Committee would request that the Department address the financial implications of this change and its impact on the Department’s Early Years 0-6 Strategy when officials brief the Committee on Early Years on 8 June 2011; the Committee would write to the DHSSPS Committee to inform it of the Committee for Education’s interest in this area.

b. The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Education dated 25 March 2011 responding to issues raised by Mrs L Saunders regarding an investigation by the Information Commissioner.

Agreed: The Committee formally requested access to the relevant papers considered by the previous Committee for Education and would bring this matter back for consideration at a subsequent meeting.

c. The Committee noted correspondence from the Minister for Education dated 24 March regarding the removal of access for schools to surpluses from previous years (under “End Year Flexibility” (EYF)).

Agreed: The Committee would request an update briefing on the arrangements now in place (within the framework of the Northern Ireland block grant) and on any alternative to EYF proposed by the Treasury.

d. The Committee noted correspondence from the Belfast Education and Library Board dated 5 April 2011 responding to a request from the previous Committee for Education regarding “Young for Year” children.

Agreed: The Committee formally requested access to the relevant papers of the previous Committee and would consider this correspondence again at a future meeting.

Agreed: The Committee would write to the Department of Education to request details of the arrangements in place to enable knowledge to be shared effectively across Education and Library Boards, and between Boards and the Department.

e. The Committee noted correspondence from the University of Ulster dated 11 April 2011 headed “Giving Pupils a voice”.

Agreed: The Committee would write to the Department of Education requesting to be copied in on the Minister’s response to this correspondence.

f. Members noted the following conferences and invitations:

  • Community Relations Council Annual Policy conference
  • St Mary’s College “Together Lecture”
  • Regional Training Unit: PQH Graduation Ceremony
  • Include Youth: Celebration of the “Give and Take Scheme”
  • Sentinus: Young Innovators Exhibition

g. Members noted the following publications:

  • Integrated Education Fund: Case study- Welcoming Newcomer/Minority Pupils
  • Libraries NI: draft Equality Scheme

h. Members noted the following press releases previously emailed:

  • Education Minister highlights importance of engagement across the sector:
  • O’Dowd highlights key priorities as Education Minister.
13. Any other business

The Clerk would investigate the availability of other suitable rooms for use as a meeting room, and ask whether Building Services could improve the acoustics in the Senate Chamber.

14. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 1 June 2011 at 10.30am in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.16 pm.

Mervyn Storey MLA 
Chairperson, Committee for Education
1 June 2011

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