MINUTES OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE THIRTY FIRST MEETING OF THE EDUCATION COMMITTEE IN ROOM 135, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS ON THURSDAY 14 DECEMBER 2000
Present: Mr D Kennedy (Chairman)
Mr S Wilson (Deputy Chairman)
Mr T Gallagher
Mr O Gibson
Mrs P Lewsley
Mr G McHugh
Mr K Robinson
Apologies: Mrs E Bell
Mr T Benson
Mr B McElduff
In Attendance: Mrs C Darrah
Miss J Adair
Ms C Angelone
The Committee met at 10.23 a.m. in private session.
1. Minutes of Meeting of Tuesday 5 December
The minutes of the meeting of Tuesday 5 December 2000 were agreed.
2. Matters Arising from the Minutes of Proceedings
- Arrangements were being made for a meeting with High School Principals in the Craigavon area to discuss the Dickson Plan system of post-primary education.
- The Chairman advised members that the Assembly researchers would attend a Committee meeting in the New Year to answer questions concerning the Dickson Plan and the education system operating in Lagan College.
- A copy of the response to the Department of Education's review of the viability criteria for Irish-medium and Integrated Schools had been circulated. A reply from the Department of Education regarding Section 75/Equality implications was expected shortly and would be circulated in the near future.
- The Assembly Researchers would provide a synopsis of written submissions placed on the website of the Review Body on Post-Primary Education on a regular basis for members' information.
3. Statutory Rules
The Chairman advised members that the Department of Education had been informed that the Committee had no objections to the 3 proposed Statutory Rules considered at the Committee meeting on 5 December.
The Department had written informing the Committee that it proposed to make a further Statutory Rule which would be subject to Negative Resolution. The Committee considered the Statutory Rule to be made under powers conferred by Article 34 of and Schedule 1 to the Education (Northern Ireland) Order 1998. The Statutory Rule will provide for the membership, composition and tenure of the 28 member Council and the election of its 14 teacher members. The Committee instructed the Clerk to make arrangements for officials from the Department of Education to attend a Committee meeting early in the New Year to discuss the background to the Rule and answer questions.
4. Chairman's Business
- A paper outlining proposals for the handling of the Committee's response to the Review Body on Post-Primary Education had been circulated. Following discussion, members agreed the proposals, which included publishing a formal Report in response to the Review; commissioning a further series of focus groups outside Belfast to gauge parents', pupils' and teachers' views; and seeking written submissions from the main education organisations and interests.
- The Chairman advised members that Mr Curran, Management Side, Joint Negotiating Council, had provided a situation report regarding the payment of a retainer fee to term-time only staff and he updated members on the latest developments.
5. Review of the Publication of School Performance Tables
Mrs Lewsley joined the meeting at 11.07 a.m.
The Chairman welcomed the Minister for Education, Mr Martin McGuinness, and his officials Mrs Christine Jenoubi and Mr Peter Lowry to the meeting. The Minister briefed the Committee on the outcome of the consultation exercise and a wide-ranging discussion ensued. Issues raised included the importance of ensuring uniformity and accuracy of information regardless of the option adopted; the advantages and disadvantages of the various options; the implications for raising school standards; the definition, use and measurement of 'value added' information; and the need to provide information on the broad base of examinations including AS level qualifications.
The Chairman advised the Minister that the Committee would submit its response before the Christmas Recess and the Minister undertook to inform the Committee of any decision reached regarding this matter prior to announcing it publicly. The Chairman thanked the Minister and his officials for a useful discussion and they left the meeting.
Following a short discussion, members agreed to hold a meeting on Tuesday 19 December at 11.00 a.m. to discuss the committee response on this matter. Members would provide comments/views to the Clerk by Monday 18 December for inclusion in the draft response.
Mrs Lewsley left the meeting at 12.30 p.m.
6. Discussion of the Distribution of Funds to Schools
The Chairman welcomed Dr Mark Browne, Mr David Woods, Mr John Caldwell, Ms Karen McClay and Mr Ashley Waterworth, officials from the Department of Education, to the meeting. Dr Browne and Mr Woods outlined the Department's proposals for the distribution of the additional money for schools in 2001/02 and answered questions. Issues discussed included the objectives and scope of the allocation; the methods of distribution considered by the Department; and the preferred option and the reasons for the preference.
Following the discussions, the officials agreed to further consider the proposals and respond to the Committee early in the
The meeting closed at 12.55 p.m.