Minutes of Proceedings
Date: 28 June 2000
Mr D Kennedy (Chairman)
Mr S Wilson (Deputy Chairman)
Mrs E Bell
Mr T Benson
Mr T Gallagher
Mr O Gibson
Mrs P Lewsley
Mr B McElduff
Mr G McHugh
Mr K Robinson
Mrs G Ardis
Mrs C Darrah
Miss J Adair
Ms C Angelone
The Committee met at 10.40 a.m.
1. Minutes of Meeting of 22 June 2000
The minutes of the meeting of 22 June 2000 were agreed.
2. Matters Arising
(i) A response had been received from the Offices of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister to the Chairman's letter of 3 February 2000 regarding North South Ministerial Conference meetings and copies had been circulated.
(ii) A response had been received from the Minister for Education to the Chairman's letter on key issues. Copies had been circulated and the response would be discussed at the next meeting of the Committee.
(iii) The Chairman had written to the representatives of term-time staff campaigning for payment of a retainer fee and to the Joint Negotiating Council representing the Education and Library Boards. Copies of the letters had been circulated. The Chairman advised members that negotiations were still on-going and a further meeting had been arranged for 5 July. Following a short discussion the Committee agreed that:
(a) The Clerk will request further information from the Department of Education on the Estimated £4-5 million costs and on the timetable for the proposed review announced by the Minister in his press release.
(b) The Chairman will write to the Joint Negotiating Council emphasising the Committee's support for a fair, equitable and speedy conclusion to this issue.
Mrs E Bell left the meeting at 10.50 a.m. rejoining it at 10.55 a.m.
(iv) A note of the meeting between the Chairman and other members of the Education Committee and representatives of the Primary Principals' Association had been circulated.
(v) A copy of the letter from Mr F Molloy, Chairman of the Committee for Finance and Personnel, to the Minister, Mr Mark Durkan, regarding Public Expenditure 2000/01 and Year End Flexibility and which included the Committee's bid had been distributed.
At 10.56 a.m. Mr K Robinson and Mr T Gallagher joined the meeting.
(vi) The Chairman informed members that he and other Committee members had met with representatives of Principals of small Secondary Schools experiencing funding difficulties on Wednesday 28 June to hear their views. Copies of the information provided by the Principals had been circulated. A note of the meeting will be distributed in the near future. The Chairman informed members that he understood the Principals had also met with the Minister for a short time. Members agreed to consider writing to the Minister regarding a moratorium on funding cuts at the next meeting of the Committee.
(vii) Information on school closures and on the allocated cost per pupil on a school by school basis, requested by the Committee, had been received and circulated to members.
3. Discussion with Representatives of the Education and Library Boards
Mr Joseph Martin, Chief Executive of the Western Education and Library Board and Mr Aidan McGee, Chief Architect with the Southern Education and Library Board discussed the Capital Building Programme Process and Timetable with members. The main areas covered in the question and answer session included the need for increased funding for the Capital Building Programme, the difficulties with project planning and economic appraisals, the Department of Education's criteria for assessing projects, the need for 2-3 year funding announcements to assist longer term planning, the use of alternative building materials and the effect of delays in rationalisation decisions.
Mr Gibson, Mr Gallagher and Mrs Bell left the meeting at 11.44 a.m.
Mrs Bell and Mr Gallagher rejoined the meeting at 11.49 a.m. and Mr Gibson rejoined it at 11.58 a.m.
4. Discussion with CCMS officials
The Committee discussed the Capital Building Programme Process and Timetable with Mr Dermot Mullan, Head of Planning and School Provision and Mrs Eilish Mallon, Building and Development Officer. The question and answer session focused on the Department's role in the Capital Building Programme, the need for clear, transparent and open criteria for assessing projects, the inclusion of 'Free School Meals' as an assessment criterion, the proposal for a regionalised architectural service and the need for funding announcements to cover more than one year.
Mr Benson joined the meeting at 12 noon. Mrs P Lewsley left the meeting at 12.08 p.m.
Following a short discussion the Committee agreed that:
(i) Department of Education officials will be invited to a Committee meeting after the summer recess to discuss the Capital Building Programme Process and Timetable.
(ii) The Clerk will draw up a report of the issues raised during the discussions with the representatives of the Education and Library Boards and CCMS.
(iii)The Clerk will request research on the use of alternative building structures/materials and other Capital Building issues.
Mrs Bell left the meeting at 12.23 p.m. and Mr Gibson left it at 12.25 p.m.
5. Consideration of the Programme for Government
The Chairman advised members that the Minister for Education had written to the Committee requesting initial views on the Programme for Government by 7 July. He informed members that he had already raised concerns regarding the very tight deadline. He also explained that this was the first stage in the consultation process and there would be an opportunity for more detailed consultation in September/October.
The Committee discussed the matter and resolved that:
(i) Given the limited time to consider the issues it would be more beneficial to concentrate on the suggested principles upon which the education elements of the Programme should be based and the cross-cutting issues. A short
paper prepared by the Clerk was circulated to aide discussion.
(ii) Members will submit written views/comments to the Clerk by 5.00 p.m. on Monday 3 July.
(iii) The Clerk will provide a draft Committee response before the Committee meeting on Thursday 6 July.
(iv) A Committee response will be discussed at the meeting on Thursday 6 July.
6. NI Curriculum Review Proposals
The Chairman advised members that the consultation period on the CCEA Curriculum Review proposals had been extended until early September. The Committee agreed that:
(i) The Hansard transcript will be circulated to members as soon a it is available.
(ii) The Clerk will ask the Assembly Researchers to provide relevant information on the curriculum, the proposed changes and comparisons with other systems by the end of July.
(iii) Members will submit comments/views to the Clerk by Monday 4 September.
(iv) The Clerk will provide a summary of the comments/views received and a draft response by Thursday 7 September.
(v) The Committee response will be discussed at the meeting on Thursday 14 September. The Committee response and Hansard transcript will then be published and placed in the Assembly Library.
7. Chairman's Business
(i) The Chairman informed the Committee that the Minister had written regarding consultation on a common LMS Formula. Copies of the letter had been circulated. The Minister wished to postpone the implementation of LMS Commonality by a year until April 2002 to allow substantive consultation to take place. The Minister would be seeking the Committee's views and comments on the draft consultation document in October 2000.
(ii) The Chairman advised members that the Minister had referred the Department of Education's revised New TSN Action Plan to the Committee for consideration. Copies of the Minister's letter and the revised Action Plan had been circulated. The Committee had been asked to respond by 7 July to enable the Minister to approve the plan by the end of July. The Committee resolved that:
(a) Officials from the Department of Education will be invited to Attend a meeting of the Committee on Monday 3 July at 11.00 a.m. to give a presentation on the New TSN Action Plan and answer member's questions.
(b) Members will submit comments/views to the Clerk by 12 noon on Wednesday 5 July.
(c) The Clerk will provide a draft Committee response by close of play on Wednesday 5 July for consideration at the Committee meeting on Thursday 6 July.
(iii) The Chairman informed members that representatives from St John's and Rosetta Avenue Residents Association had requested a meeting with the Committee regarding the development of Wellington College under the
Department of Education's PFI scheme. Copies of the letter and further information on the matter had been circulated. The Committee noted that the primary concern of the residents was a planning issue and it was agreed that
the Clerk should reply on behalf of he Committee pointing them in the direction of the Department of Environment's Planning Service.
Mr McElduff left the meeting at 12.46 p.m.
8. Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Monday 3 July 2000 at 11.00 a.m. in Room 135, Parliament Buildings and will include a presentation by Department of Education officials on the Department's New TSN Action Plan.
9. Any Other Business
(i) The Chairman informed members that a North South Ministerial Council Education Sectoral meeting would be held on Monday 3 July in Northern Ireland.
(ii) The Belfast Telegraph report of the public meeting held on Thursday 22 June was raised. As some Committee members had not seen the article it was agreed that copies would be circulated and the issue discussed at the next
meeting of the Committee.
The meeting closed at 12.55 p.m.
MR DANNY KENNEDY