Minutes of Proceedings - 07 September 2000
Present: Mr D Kennedy (Chairman)
Mr S Wilson (Deputy Chairman)
Mrs E Bell
Mr T Benson
Mr J Fee
Mr T Gallagher
Mr O Gibson
Mrs P Lewsley
Mr B McElduff
Mr K Robinson
Apologies: Mr G McHugh
In Attendance: Mrs G Ardis Miss J Adair
Mrs C Darrah Ms C Angelone
The Committee met at 10.35 a.m.
1. Declaration of Interests
The Chairman reminded members of their obligation to ensure that any relevant pecuniary or other interests were declared before and/or during every meeting of the Committee as appropriate.
2. Minutes of Meeting of 6 July 2000
The minutes of the meeting of 6 July 2000 were agreed.
Mr K Robinson joined the meeting at 10.38 a.m.
3. Matters Arising
(i) The Department of Education and the Joint Negotiating Council had provided further information regarding the payment of a retainer fee to term-time workers in schools and the timetable for the proposed job evaluation review.
Mr J Fee joined the meeting at 11.45 a.m.
Following a short discussion the Committee agreed that the Chairman would write to the Joint Negotiating Council and the Trade Union representatives expressing the Committee's concern that the current level and system of remuneration causes hardship during holidays and emphasising the Committee's continued support for a satisfactory conclusion that achieves an adequate and equitable outcome
Mrs E Bell and Mr K Robinson declared a personal interest in this matter.
Mrs E Bell left the meeting at 10.50 a.m.
(ii) The Minister for Education had replied to the Committee's response on the Programme for Government and copies had been circulated. Members noted that this issue would be considered in detail in the near future.
(iii) A reply had been received from the Minister for Education to the Committee's response on the Department's New Targeting Social Need (TSN) Draft Action Plan. A discussion ensued and the Committee agreed that the Chairman would write to the Minister emphasising the Committee's concerns regarding the use of Free School Meal Entitlement (FSME) as a social need indicator in the allocation of funding for schools and how money was being targeted by the Plan.
(iv) Following the meeting with Principals of small Secondary Schools, the Chairman had written to the Minister for Education requesting a moratorium on funding cuts while a review of LMS formula was ongoing. The Minister had replied and it was agreed that the Chairman would send a copy of the response to the Principals for their information. The Committee also requested that the Clerk should research how additional funding released under the Chancellor's Initiative was distributed in Northern Ireland and in the United Kingdom.
(v) Copies of the Committee's response to the Chairman of the Regional Development Committee regarding the Regional Development Strategy (draft Regional Strategic Framework) had been circulated. The Committee resolved to give further consideration to this issue with a view to submitting supplementary comments in due course.
Mrs E Bell rejoined the meeting at 11.40 a.m.
(vi) Papers regarding a number of individual cases had been circulated to members and were discussed. The Committee resolved that the Clerk would prepare draft responses for consideration.
(vii) The Chairman updated the Committee on the arrangements for attending conferences, seminars, etc. Members agreed to inform the Clerk of any invitations received in connection with Committee work and a member or members could then be nominated to represent the Committee at the event.
4. Forward Work Programme
A draft forward work programme for the autumn session had been circulated. A lengthy discussion took place regarding the priority issues and the envisaged timescales. The Committee agreed the addition of special needs education/mainstreaming to the programme as a matter of priority.
In light of the number of important issues due to be considered, it was also agreed that future Committee meetings would take place from10.30 a.m. until 1.00 p.m.
5. Chairman's Business
Mr T Gallagher left the meeting at 12 noon.
(i) A number of Press Releases issued by the Department of Education were circulated.
(ii) A provisional timetable outlining the key stages in the financial cycle was circulated.
(iii) The Chairman advised members that he was attending a school event on Friday 8 September in a personal capacity and not as Chairman of the Education Committee.
(iv) The Chairman informed members that the Association of Northern Ireland Education and Library Boards Annual conference would be held on Thursday 28 and Friday 29 September in Newcastle. He invited any members who wished to attend to represent the Committee to contact the Clerk.
(v) The Chairman reminded members that Tuesday 12 September was the closing date for tabling oral questions for the Minister for Education. The questions would be answered on 25 September.
6. Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting of the Committee will be held on Thursday 14 September 2000 at 10 .30 a.m. in Room 135, Parliament Buildings.
The meeting closed at 12 .15 p.m.
MR DANNY KENNEDY