MINUTES OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE THIRTY NINTH MEETING OF THE EDUCATION COMMITTEE IN ROOM 135, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS ONTHURSDAY 22 FEBRUARY 2001
Present: Mr D Kennedy (Chairman)
Mr S Wilson (Deputy Chairman)
Mrs E Bell
Mr T Gallagher
Mr O Gibson
Mrs P Lewsley
Mr G McHugh
Mr K Robinson
Apologies:Mr J Fee
Mr B McElduff
In Attendance:Mrs C Darrah
Mrs J McMurray
Miss J Adair
Ms C Angelone
The Committee met at 10.35 a.m. in private session.
1.Minutes of the Meetings of 13 February and 15 February 2001
The minutes of the meetings of 13 February and 15 February 2001 were agreed.
2.Matters arising from the Minutes of Proceedings
- The Committee response on the Department of Education's draft Public Service Agreement had been circulated.
- A copy of the Minister for Education's response to the request for further information in relation to the Review of School Performance Tables had been circulated. The Committee agreed that it wishedto comment on the consultation paper on the review of the information schools are required to provide prior to circulation.
- Further information on travel arrangements and particular issues to cover during the proposed visit to Scotland had been circulated and was briefly discussed. The Chairman advised members that the Convenor of the Scottish Parliament Education, Culture and Sports Committee had indicated her wish to host a dinner for the Committee on Thursday 8 March and members were pleased to accept the invitation.
- The Committee discussed and agreed a programme of oral evidence sessions to inform its consideration of the Review of Post Primary Education. The Committee also agreed a number of additional organisations to be contacted regarding a written submission.
Members noted that a number of educational experts had agreed to provide short briefing papers to the Committee on their particular area of expertise and instructed the Clerk to establish the possibility of holding evidence sessions with those educational experts based in Scotland during the visit. The Committee decided not to pursue requests for briefing papers from 2 other experts in the meantime.
- A paper provided by Professor John Coolahan of the National University of Ireland on the transition year and other issues surrounding post-primary education in the Republic of Ireland was circulated. Following discussion the Committee agreed to invite Professor Coolahan to give oral evidence at a future meeting.
- An update provided by the Joint Negotiating Council, outlining developments in the ongoing dispute involving term-time only staff was circulated.
3. Chairman's Business
- The Chairman advised members that he had received a request for a meeting to discuss an anti-homophobic bullying campaign. The Committee instructed the Clerk to obtain further information on the campaign for consideration at the next meeting.
- The Chairman informed members that British Telecom had written offering to make a presentation to the Committee on projects that they are involved in with Departments to deliver electronic Government in Northern Ireland. The Committee agreed that a presentation should be arranged on a suitable date.
- The Chairman reminded members that the closing date for tabling Oral Questions to the Minister for Education was Tuesday 27 February.
4. Evidence Session from the Education and Library Boards on Post-Primary Education (Public Session)
As part of the Committee's consideration of the Review of Post-Primary Education, the Chairman welcomed Mr Martin, Chief Executive of the Western Education and Library Board, Mr Cargo, Chief Executive of the Belfast Education and Library Board, Mr Fitzsimons, Chief Executive of the South Eastern Education and Library Board, and Mr Topping, Chief Executive of the North Eastern Education and Library Board to the meeting. They gave oral evidence on the Boards' submission to the Committee on post-primary education and this was followed by a detailed question and answer session. Areas discussed included:
- The need for a wide debate on education issues
- The problems with the transfer test
- The need to set principles for the education system before considering structures
- Vocational training and parity of esteem
- The curriculum
- The importance of social inclusion and parental choice
Hansard recorded the evidence for publication in due course.
5. Discussion of proposed Statutory Rule (Private Session)
A draft Committee response on the proposed Statutory Rule on the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (Constitution) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001 had been circulated. Following discussion, members agreedthe draft as amended.
6. Discussion of the Committee response on the 'Myths & Reality' Report on Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood
A draft Committee response on the 'Myths and Reality' Report on Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood had been circulated. Following discussion, the Committee agreed to seek information from the Department of Education on several issues and consider the draft at the next meeting of the Committee on 1 March.
7.Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting of the Committee will be held on Thursday 1 March 2001 at a time to be arranged.
The meeting closed at 12.45 p.m.