Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Venue: Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings

The Meeting commenced at 10.30am in closed session.

Members agreed to establish a sub-committee to assess the submissions received. Members of the sub-committee are:

Danny Kinahan MLA
Jonathan Craig MLA
Trevor Lunn MLA
Daithí McKay MLA
Sean Rogers MLA

The sub-committee will meet in closed session on 6 June at 9.00am.

The meeting commenced at 10.34am in open session. 

Apologies 

Apologies are detailed above.

1. Draft Minutes of 23 May 2012 

The Committee approved the minutes of the meeting on 23 May 2012. 

2. Matters Arising  

2.1.    The Committee noted correspondence of 17 May 2012 from the Department of Education regarding school deficit figures. 

2.2.    The Committee noted correspondence of 17 May 2012 from the Department of Education regarding the Curriculum Sports Programme. 

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking for the total number of pupils that attend schools with the sport programmes and ask that it records the statistics as sport specific in the future. 

2.3.    The Committee noted correspondence of 17 May 2012 from the Committee for Employment and Learning regarding the Bytes Project. 

Agreed – the Committee would forward the correspondence to the Department as requested. 

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department for Employment and Learning asking that they write to the further education colleges suggesting that the Byte program forms part of their essential skills classes for the next academic year. 

2.4.    The Committee noted correspondence of 17 May 2012 from the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety regarding occupational therapy. 

2.5.    The Committee noted correspondence of 18 May from the Department of Education regarding the ETI, Chief Inspectors Report for 2010-12. 

Agreed – that a briefing is arranged from the chief inspector in relation to the report; to correspond with the launch of the ETI annual report. 

2.6.    The Committee noted correspondence of 21 May 2012 from the Committee for Finance and Personnel regarding the Executive’s Review of the financial Process. 

Agreed – the Committee would raise this issue with officials during the briefing and forward this correspondence to the Department for comment.

2.7.    The Committee noted correspondence of 22 May 2012 from the Department of Education regarding the Teacher Education Review.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking for details on what they envisage will be included in the scheme for newly qualified teachers; and asking for a more definitive timescale on schemes development. In addition the Committee will request statistics, for the past 5 years, of newly qualified teachers who have gained employment within 1 year of leaving their training course.

2.8.    The Committee noted copy correspondence of 21 May 2012 to the Minister for Education from Conall McDevitt, MLA regarding a funding shortage at Glenveagh Special School, Belfast.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking for details of capital funding in relation to SEN schools.

2.9.    The Committee noted correspondence of 20 May 2012 from the Principal of Glenveagh School regarding a funding shortage.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking for details of capital funding in relation to SEN schools.

Mr Craig left the meeting at 10.48am.

Mr Kinahan left the meeting at 10.50am.

3. Correspondence

3.1.    The Committee noted an invitation from the Assembly Events office to attend a photo call to welcome the Olympic Torch to Parliament Buildings.

3.2.    The Committee noted correspondence of 16 May 2012 from the Principal of Erne Integrated College regarding concerns over C2K.

Agreed – the Committee would forward this correspondence to the Department to comment on the budget implications of this issue, how and why schools will be affected by the change of contract, why, when we are informed that education is being aligned with the changing demands of industry, it appears that the Department have placed further budget hardship on a significant resource; if the reason for schools replacing their own equipment is a result of the savings delivery plan; and has C2K recommended that schools upgrade their hardware and, if so, why?

Agreed – the Committee would ask research for information on the history of IT provision in schools prior to C2K; the success and failures to date of C2K and comparators with other jurisdictions in relation to IT provision in schools.

Agreed – the Committee would invite the director of C2K and the Department to brief on the new contract and IT provision in the nursery sector.

Mr Kinahan rejoined the meeting at 10.56am.

3.3.    The Committee noted correspondence of 15 May 2012 from the British Heart Foundation regarding their campaign for Emergency Life Support.

Agreed – that Committee would write to the Department in support of this initiative.

3.4.    The Committee noted correspondence previously emailed to Members from The Rural Community Network inviting them to a Shared Education Event.

3.5.    The Committee noted the following DE News Releases, previously emailed to Members;

  • Qualifications and Destinations of North of Ireland school leavers 2010/11: detailed statistics;
  • O’Dowd turns down nursery unit at Iveagh Primary School, Rathfriland;
  • O’Dowd opens new nursery school at Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh;
  • Research into Improving Attendence in Schools serving Deprived Areas;
  • Publication of partially completed Inspection Reports;
  • O’Dowd opens new play area at Holy Trinity Primary School, Cookstown;
  • O’Dowd visits Loughshore Educational Resource Centre;
  • Education Minister John O’Dowd has visited St Rose’s Dominican College in west Belfast;
  • O’Dowd: digital technologies can enhance pupils’ learning.

4. Departmental Briefing on Literacy and Numeracy

Adrain Arbothnot, Director of Curriculum, Qualifications and Standards and Chris Hughes, Head of Standards Team joined the meeting at 11.00am and provided the Committee with a briefing on Literacy and Numeracy.

Miss McIlveen joined the meeting at 11.13am.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking it to include statistics in relation to D grades in future correspondence; if any research has been carried out on the children who are not achieving and whether they attended a pre-school setting. In addition for tables showing the breakdown of the percentage of school leavers achieving 5 GCSEs including English and maths, by free school meal entitlement, religion, gender and school type in the council area of the school and of the residents.

Mr Flanagan left the meeting at 11.59am.

5. Departmental briefing on the June Monitoring Round

Trevor Connolly, Director of Finance and Colleen Tonner, Head of Budget Monitoring Team joined the meeting at 12.03pm and provided the Committee with a briefing on the June Monitoring Round.

Mr McKay left the meeting at 12.08pm.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking what the original capital budget was and what percentage was contractually committed, a breakdown of the £27 million as recently announced by the minister, the percentage that will be spent on response maintenance and essential maintenance and for a breakdown of the shortfall of £300 million.

6. Committee Consideration of the draft School Council Inquiry Report

This item was deferred for 2 weeks.

7. Forward Work Programme

Members considered and agreed the draft forward work programme.

 8. Any Other Business 

Members considered and agreed a draft press release in relation to the breakfast meeting with Barnardos and the Children’s Aid Society, USA.

Members agreed to write to the minister stating the Committee notes that the post primary allocation letters were received on Tuesday 29 May and ask if the Department view this to be the way forward or if they intend to review the day these letters will be posted to households, the Committee also noted complaints from parents that some children had not received letters prior to attending school that day, and many others were away on school trips.

9. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 6 June 2012 at 10.00am in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.37pm.

Mervyn Storey
Chairperson
Committee for Education
6 June 2012 

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