Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Venue: Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings
The meeting commenced at 10.35am in open session.
Apologies are detailed above.
The Chairperson reminded members that the Committee are visiting Middletown Centre for Autism next week and asked if they could indicate to Committee staff who will be attending.
1. Draft Minutes of 22 February 2012
The Committee approved the minutes of the meeting on 22 February 2012.
2. Matters Arising
2.1. The Committee noted copy correspondence of 9 February 2012 from Include Youth to the Chairperson of the Committee for Employment and Learning regarding the Dissolution of the Department of Employment and Learning.
2.2. The Committee noted correspondence of 20 January 2012 from various Education and Library Boards regarding arrangements for occupational therapy provision in schools.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Public Health Agency asking if a summary of the audit in relation to occupational therapy provision in schools can be made available to the Committee; and agreed to forward the responses received from the boards noting the significant difference in the experience of each board and asking if this is being addressed and if so how.
Agreed – the Committee forward the responses to the Committee for Health, asking it to raise the issue with its Department.
Mr Nesbitt joined the meeting at 10.40am.
2.3. The Committee noted correspondence of 22 February 2012 from the Department of Education regarding community use of schools.
Agreed – the Committee forward the response to Mr David McNarry MLA.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking if it intends to take into account and learn from the good practice that currently exists in communities.
2.4. The Committee noted correspondence of 22 February 2012 from the Department of Education regarding PSA Targets for Programme for Government.
2.5. The Committee noted correspondence of 22 February 2012 from the Department of Education regarding the cross border survey of school demand.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking if they keep records of whether or not all children of school age in Northern Ireland are in education and if not how do they monitor the children that are not in education.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking for details of any current policy that exists in relation to accepting into the Northern Ireland education system a child with a statement of special educational needs from another jurisdiction and vice versa.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education and Skills, asking if they hold statistics in relation to children who reside in Northern Ireland who are being educated in the Republic of Ireland and vice versa.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the TRC asking for its views on this issue.
2.6. The committee noted correspondence of 18 January 2012 from the Department of Education regarding funding for rugby coaching.
2.7. The Committee noted correspondence of 22 February 2012 from Mr Nicolson regarding an error in the CCEA mathematics paper.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking for a copy of the report on the error in the CCEA maths papers, along with the Departments recommendation and how these will be implemented.
2.8. The Committee noted correspondence from the Minister of Education regarding the appointment of governors to Voluntary Grammar Schools.
Agreed – the Committee would seek legal advice in relation to the recruitment process for appointments to the boards of governors.
2.9. The Committee noted correspondence of 23 February 2012 from the Department of Education regarding the Review of Post-Primary Education.
3.1. The Committee noted copy correspondence of 30 January 2012 from the Ballymena Primary Principals’ Association to the Minister of Education regarding budget allocations.
3.2. The Committee noted correspondence of 15 February from PlayBoard NI requesting to meet with the Committee.
Agreed – the Committee would write to PlayBoard NI informing them of the Committee’s intention to consider their invitation in its forward work programme.
Agreed – the Committee agreed that thematic meetings would be arranged for members to discuss topics with organisations that have requested a meeting. These will be arranged outside of the weekly Committee meeting.
3.3. The Committee noted correspondence of 16 February 2012 from the Belfast Bus Company regarding School Transport Health and Safety issues.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Belfast Bus Company asking for a written briefing in the first instance.
3.4. The Committee noted copy correspondence of 14 February 2012 from Dergmoney Pre-School Centre Management Committee regarding the Pre-School Centre.
3.5. The Committee noted correspondence of 12 February 2012 from a concerned parent regarding proposed changes to SEN Statements.
Agreed – the Committee would forward the letter to the Department for comment and write to the individual outlining the Committee’s position on getting involved in individual cases.
3.6. The Committee noted correspondence of 17 February 2012 from Booktrust regarding their Bookstart Campaign.
3.7. The Committee noted correspondence of 21 February 2012 from the Department of Education regarding the Food in Schools Policy.
Agreed – the Committee would receive an oral briefing from the Department following Easter recess.
3.8. The Committee noted the following publications previously emailed to Members:
- Finance and Personnel Committee – Investment Strategy for NI Investing Activity Report for February;
- NICCY – Response to the Consultation on the Executives Programme for Government;
- Effective Pre-school Provision NI Project – Report entitled ‘Case Studies of Early Years Settings’;
- Welsh Assembly Procurement Report ‘Opening Doors: The Charter for SME Friendly Procurement’.
3.9. The Committee noted the following Department of Education News Releases previously emailed to Members:
- O’Dowd Produces Efficiency Reports;
- St Columbanus’ College plays major role in local community – O’Dowd;
- Enrolments at schools and in pre-school education in Northern Ireland 2011/12;
- Education Minister visits St Colmcille’s School, Downpatrick.
One member brought to the Committee’s attention a report into pre-school education.
Agreed – the Committee would write to Research asking if there is a more recent study in relation to pre-school education and future education attainment, and if not could they supply information that would confirm the statistics in the current report.
4. Departmental briefing on the Teachers Pensions (Amendment) Regulations 2012
La’Verne Montgomery, Director of Education Workforce Development, Mark Mawhinney and Seamus Gallagher joined the Committee at 11.10am and provided the Committee with a briefing on the Teachers Pensions (Amendment) Regulations 2012.
The Chairperson informed officials that it was un- satisfactory to forward papers they day before a briefing. The deputy Chairperson, Mr Nesbitt stated that he was dissatisfied with the late arrival of the papers for this session and suggested that if it was to happen again that his Party may withdraw from the briefing session.
Miss McIlveen left the meeting at 11.41am.
Agreed – the Department would provide to the Committee, copies of the Union responses to the consultation.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Pensions Trustee Office in the Northern Ireland Assembly asking for detailed information in relation to the conditions and contributions of civil service pensions compared to those in other public service jobs.
Agreed – the Chairperson would raise the issue of how Departments engage with Committees in relation to Regulations at the next Chairpersons’ Liaison Group meeting.
5. Early Years Strategic Alliance Presentation on their Early Years Manifesto
Elaine Conway, Children in Northern Ireland, Kyra Pauley, Footprints Women’s Centre, Nora Smith, Employers for Childcare and Joy Poots, Inner City South Belfast Sure Start joined the Committee at 11.50am and provided the Committee with a briefing on their Early Years Manifesto.
Miss McIlveen rejoined the meeting at 12.32pm.
Mr Nesbitt left the meeting at 12.40pm.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the OFMdFM and Assembly and Executive review Committees asking them what consideration is being given in their review of public administration to setting up a Department for Children and Young People.
Agreed – the Committee would forward the Departmental briefing papers on the Early Years Strategy to the Alliance for information.
6. Departmental Briefing on the Early Years Strategy
Due to time constraints the Committee were unable to receive this briefing.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department noting the Committee regret that they were unable to hear the briefing and invite officials to return on the meeting of 21 March.
7. Forward Work Programme
The Committee noted the forward work programme.
8. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 14 March 2012 at 10.30 am in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.55pm.
Mervyn Storey MLA
Chairperson, Committee for Education
14 March 2012