MINUTES OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE TWENTY THIRD MEETING OF THE EDUCATION COMMITTEE IN ROOM 135, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS ON THURSDAY 12 OCTOBER 2000.
Present: Mr D Kennedy (Chairman)
Mr S Wilson (Deputy Chairman)
Mrs E Bell
Mr T Benson
Mr T Gallagher
Mr O Gibson
Mr B McElduff
Mr G McHugh
Mr K Robinson
Apologies:Mrs P Lewsley
In Attendance: Mrs G Ardis Ms C Angelone
Mrs C Darrah Miss L Tracey
Miss J Adair
The Committee met at 10.21 a.m.
1. Format for the Public Session (Private Session)
Mr McElduff and Mr McHugh joined the meeting at 10.26 a.m.
Mr Benson and Mr Wilson joined the meeting at 10.30 a.m.
The Committee, in preparing for the public session, discussed the bodies announced by the Minister to take forward the consultation process on post-primary education and noted the terms of reference for the independent Review Body. Members also discussed the issues they wished to raise with the Minister.
2. Discussion with the Minister for Education (Public Session)
The Minister for Education, Mr Martin McGuinness, joined the meeting. He was accompanied by Dr Mark Browne, Head of School Funding and Administration and Mr Aidan McAteer, Special Adviser to the Minister.
The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting the purpose of which was to discuss the consultation process on post primary education. A detailed discussion ensued. The key issues discussed included the reasons for setting up the various consultation bodies; the appointment mechanism used to select the Chairperson of the Review Body; the composition of the Review Body; the staffing structure and resources allocated to the Body; the need for widespread and comprehensive consultation; the timescale of the review process; and the relationship between the Review Body, the Panel of Education Advisers and the Education Consultative Forum.
Mr Gallagher left the meeting at 11.14 a.m. and returned at 11.18 a.m.
In response to a question, the Minister informed members that he hoped the Education Committee would play a key role in the process. He expected the Committee to provide a submission to the Review Body. The Chairman of the Review Body had indicated that he would like to meet with the Committee to discuss the Body's proposals for the consultation process. He would also meet again with the Committee to discuss the findings of the review process in due course. Submissions to the Review Body would be placed on the Department's website and the Committee would be notified of any significant submissions. The Minister would also meet with the Committee prior to the findings of the review being made public. The Education Committee and the Assembly would also have a significant role to play in implementing any necessary legislative changes to the education system.
The Chairman thanked the Minister for meeting with the Committee and informed him that the Committee would submit nominations for the Review Body in the near future. The Minister then left the meeting.
The meeting adjourned at 11.45 a.m. and reconvened at 11.50 a.m.
3. Discussion of the Consultation Process (Private Session)
Mrs Bell joined the meeting at 11.52 a.m.
The nominations to the Review Body were circulated and the Committee agreed to forward them to the Minister. Members also agreed to discuss the role the Committee would play in the consultation process at the next meeting of the Committee.
4. Minutes of Meetings of Tuesday 3 October and Thursday 5 October
The minutes of the meetings of Tuesday 3 October 2000 at 10.00 a.m. and Thursday 5 October at 10.30 a.m. in Room 135, Parliament Buildings were agreed.
5. Matters Arising from the Minutes of Proceedings
- The Chairman advised members that a draft letter to the Minister for Education regarding the North South Ministerial Council Educational Sectoral meetings had been circulated. Members agreed the letter to the Minister.
- A copy of a note of the meeting with the Joint Negotiating Council on 5 October was distributed. The Committee noted that a further meeting between the Joint Negotiating Council and Trade Union side was scheduled for 3 November and agreed to continue to monitor the situation.
- Copies of the Committee response to the Minister for Education regarding the format and content of the proposed consultation paper on School Performance Tables had been circulated.
- Copies of the agreed Committee response to the Department of Education's Comprehensive Spending Review proposals had been circulated.
6. Chairman's Business
- The Chairman informed members that the Department of Education had sent the Committee a document entitled "Information Memorandum on the Private Finance Initiative" which set out its experience in the use of PFI and its proposals on the future use of PFI in schools. The Minister requested the Committee's views on the proposals. Members agreed that an initial discussion of the issue would take place at the next Committee meeting.
- The Chairman advised members that a note from the Clerk of Business highlighting the Speaker's Rules on Committee Business had been circulated.
- The Chairman informed the Committee that he and the Deputy Chairman would meet with representatives of Playboard to discuss their 'Playwise' campaign on Tuesday 17 October at 11.00 a.m. in Room 144 and invited members to attend if they were available.
- The Chairman advised members that correspondence had been received from schools seeking a meeting with the Committee to discuss disruptive pupils. Members agreed that given the Committee's work schedule, the Chairman and Deputy Chairman should meet with representatives in the first instance.
- The Chairman advised the Committee that he and the Deputy Chairman had attended a recent meeting which highlighted interesting issues surrounding the promotion of business enterprise and entrepreneurship in education.
- The Chairman informed members that he had been invited, in his role as Committee Chairman, to speak at the INTO Forum on selection on Wednesday 18 October in Stranmillis College.
7. Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting of the Committee will be held on Thursday 19 October at 10.30 a.m. in Room 135, Parliament Buildings.
8. Any Other Business
- Mr McElduff asked the Committee to consider health and safety implications for pupils carrying heavy school bags. Members agreed that the Clerk would commission research on this matter.
- Members agreed that, given the Halloween Recess, the Committee would not meet on Thursday 2 November 2000.
The meeting closed at 12.20 p.m.