MINUTES OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE FIFTIETH MEETING OF THE EDUCATION COMMITTEE IN ROOM 135, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS ON THURSDAY 14 JUNE 2001
Mr D Kennedy (Chairman)
Mr S Wilson (Deputy Chairman)
Mrs E Bell
Mr T Gallagher
Mr O Gibson
Mrs P Lewsley
Mr B McElduff
Mr J Fee
Mr G McHugh
Mr K Robinson
Mrs C Darrah
Mrs V Artt
Miss J Adair
Ms C Angelone
The Committee met at 10.35 a.m. in private session.
1.Minutes of the Meetings of 22 May 2001
The minutes of the meeting of 22 May 2001 were agreed.
2. Members Interests
The Chairman reminded members of their obligation to declare any new pecuniary or other interests in accordance with paragraph 48 of the Guide to Rules relating to the Conduct of Members.
3. Matters arising from the Minutes of Proceedings
(i) Copies of the Committee response to the Inquiry into the Appointment of a Children's Commissioner had been circulated.
(ii) Information regarding the travel budget available to Committees was noted.
(iii)The Committee agreed the draft Terms of Contract for a Specialist Adviser on the Review of LMS Funding Formulae and arrangements for the appointment. A timetable for the Committee's consideration of the Review was also agreed.
(iv) The Minister of Education had written to the Committee proposing an extension of the consultation period for the Review of LMS Funding. Members agreed that the extension was welcome but the Chairman should reply requesting further clarification regarding the process following the end of the consultation period and the timetable for implementation.
(v) The Chairman advised members that he and the Deputy Chairman had met with representatives of NICIE, the GBA and CCMS to discuss concerns regarding the Review of LMS Funding Formulae. Details of the meeting would be circulated.
4. Chairman's Business
(i) Information provided by the Department of Education on the Northern Ireland 2001/2002 Main Estimates was circulated.
(ii)The Chairman advised members that information regarding the Department of Education's bids for the 2002/2003 Budget would be circulated prior to the meeting on 21 June. The Committee agreed that departmental officials should attend a meeting on Tuesday 26 June to discuss the proposals and clarify any issues.
(iii)The Chairman advised members that the Minister of Education had written proposing to defer the transfer of responsibility for the funding of Voluntary Grammar and Grant Maintained Integrated Schools to the Education and Library Boards. The Committee, noting the ongoing Review of Post-Primary Education, agreed that this was a sensible approach and members had no objections to deferring the transfer for the present time.
(iv)The Committee had received consultation documents on a proposed Single Equality Bill and on Promoting Social Inclusion. Members agreed that responses to both consultation documents would be considered before the summer recess.
(v) The Chairman advised the Committee that half-day training sessions on Government Finance were being organised for early September and arrangements would be made for interested members to attend.
(vi) The Chairman informed members that arrangements had been made for he and the Deputy Chairman to meet with representatives of an inter-agency Anti-Bullying Group to discuss the introduction of legislation relating to bullying in schools on Monday 18 June. He and the Deputy Chairman were also due to meet with representatives of the Greater East Belfast Partnership to discuss the results of a recent consultation exercise on education in East Belfast on Tuesday 19 June. He invited any available members to attend the meetings.
5. Discussion of the Committee response on the draft Strategy Document 'Learning for Tomorrow's World: A Strategy for the Education and Development of Children and Young People'
A draft Committee response on the 'Learning for Tomorrow's World' Strategy Document had been circulated. Following discussion, the Committee agreed the draft as amended.
Mr McElduff left the meeting at 11.10 a.m.
The meeting was suspended
Mrs Bell joined the meeting at 11.30 a.m.
The meeting was reconvened
6. Discussion with Department of Education officials on the Review of School Information and Prospectuses
The Chairman welcomed Mrs Jendoubi, Mr Lowry and Mr Leonard to the meeting to discuss the proposed Review of School Information and Prospectuses. The officials briefly outlined the background to the proposed Review and answered members' questions. Key issues discussed included the need to provide factual information to allow parents to make an informed choice, the need to balance the availability of information and reduce bureaucracy and the format of the consultation paper.
The Chairman thanked the officials for a useful discussion and they left the meeting.
The Committee agreed to consider a draft response, based on the comments/views expressed during the discussion, at the next meeting.
7. Discussion with the Specialist Adviser on the Review of Post-Primary Education
The Chairman welcomed the Specialist Adviser on the Review of Post-Primary Education to the meeting. The Specialist Adviser briefed the Committee on his analysis of the written submissions and evidence sessions. This was followed by an initial discussion of the main issues for inclusion in the Committee response.
8. Date and time of next meeting
The next meeting of the Committee will be held on Thursday 21 June at 10.15 a.m.
The meeting closed at 12.45 p.m.