MINUTES OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE TWENTY EIGHTH MEETING OF THE EDUCATION COMMITTEE IN ROOM 135, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS ON THURSDAY 23 NOVEMBER 2000
Present: 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 K Robinson
Apologies: Mr T Benson
In Attendance: Mrs G Ardis Miss J Adair
Mrs C Darrah Ms C Angelone
The Committee met at 10.30 a.m. in private session.
1. Minutes of Meeting of Thursday 16 November
The minutes of the meeting of Thursday 16 November 2000 were agreed with the addition of "on how the Committee would handle the issue" at line 6 of Section 6.
Mr McElduff joined the meeting at 10.36 a.m.
2. Matters Arising from the Minutes of Proceedings
- Copies of a letter from Mr Gerry Burns of the Review Body on Post-Primary Education regarding the consultation process and the Chairman's response had been circulated for information.
- The Chairman had written to the Irish National Teachers' Organisation and the Ulster Teachers' Union as agreed at the previous meeting of the Committee.
- A draft Committee response to the Minister for Education on the Department's consultation paper on the use of the Private Finance Initiative in schools had been circulated. Members, noting that it reflected the views and concerns they had expressed, agreed the response.
- A situation report outlining the up-to-date position regarding the payment of a retainer fee to term-time only staff had been circulated. Members noted that this issue would be discussed later in the meeting.
3. Chairman's Business
- The Chairman informed members that research requested on the post-primary education systems in Bavaria, Manitoba and South East Asia had been circulated.
- The Chairman informed the Committee that the Department of Education had invited members to attend a one-day conference on Thursday 7 December on the use of the Private Finance Initiative in schools. Members agreed that Mr Gibson should attend on behalf of the Committee.
- The Chairman informed members that, following the statement in the Assembly by the Minister for Finance and Personnel on the October Monitoring round, he had requested details from the Department on the additional money allocated to education. Several members had questions they wished to raise and it was agreed that officials would be invited to the next meeting of the Committee to discuss the matter.
- The Chairman informed the Committee that he and the Deputy Chairman would meet with two groups on Monday 27 November at 11.00 a.m. and 11.30 a.m. to discuss school buildings and accommodation and he invited members to attend if they were available.
- Members noted that the Working Group on Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood had recently published a report entitled "Myths and Reality" and some of the recommendations fell to the Department of Education to implement. Members agreed proposals to obtain information on the issues to inform a Committee response to the Working Group.
- The Chairman advised members that, given the need to consider the review of the viability criteria for Irish-Medium and Integrated Schools, the work programme had had to be re-arranged. The presentations on the various post-primary education systems would re-commence on 30 November.
- The Chairman advised members that the open meetings held by the Review Body on Post-Primary Education had begun. A list detailing dates and venues had been circulated to members.
- The Chairman advised members that he had received a letter from a Lisburn Borough Councillor requesting a meeting with the Committee to discuss a local issue. Copies of the letter were circulated. Members noted that the primary concern was a planning matter and agreed that the Chairman should reply pointing the Councillor in the direction of the Department of Environment and/or the Department of Regional Development.
The meeting adjourned at 11.00 a.m. and reconvened at 11.05 a.m.
4. Presentation by the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (Public Session)
The Chairman welcomed Mr Michael Wardlow, Chief Executive, Ms Helen Honeyman, Director, Ms Frances Donnelly, Senior Development Officer, Mr Alan Sheeran, Public Affairs Officer and Mr Aidan Dolan, Principal of the Integrated College, Dungannon to the meeting.
Mr Wardlow gave a short presentation focusing on the Department of Education's consultation paper reviewing the viability criteria for Irish-Medium and Integrated Schools. This was followed by a question and answer session. The key issues discussed included the growth of integrated education and the reasons for this, the required religious balance, parental choice, the transformation process and it's use and the case for a reduction in the viability criteria.
Mrs P Lewsley joined the meeting at 11.30 a.m.
Mrs E Bell left the meeting at 11.30 a.m. and rejoined it at 11.34 a.m.
The Chairman thanked Mr Wardlow and the other representatives for a useful and informative discussion and they left the meeting.
5. Presentation by Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta (Public Session)
The Chairman welcomed Mr Cathal Ó Donnghaile, Chairperson, and Mr Paedar Mac Muiris, Co-ordinator, to the meeting. Mr Ó Donnghaile gave a short presentation on the Department of Education's consultation paper reviewing the viability criteria for Irish-Medium and Integrated Schools. This was followed by a question and answer session. The key issues discussed included the ethos of Irish-Medium Schools, the case for reducing the viability criteria, the number of schools and pupils involved and the use of units/satellite schools.
Mr McElduff left the meeting at 12.06 p.m. and rejoined it at 12.08 p.m.
The Chairman thanked Mr Ó Donnghaile and Mr MacMuiris for a useful and informative discussion and they left the meeting.
The meeting went into private session.
The Chairman informed members that further information to inform the Committee's consideration of the review of the viability criteria had been circulated. Members agreed to submit views/comments to the Clerk by Monday 4 December and a draft response would be considered at the meeting of the Committee on 7 December.
2. (Contd.) Matters Arising from the Minutes of Proceedings
- A draft Committee response to the Minister for Education on the Programme for Government and the Budget 2001/02 proposals had been circulated. Mr Wilson proposed two amendments to the draft letter. The first amendment proposed the addition of "and has reservations specifically about the target of June 2001 for the completion of the Review of Selection" to paragraph 10 line 4. This was agreed by the Committee. The second amendment proposed that the letter record that the use of Departmental time and resources on North/South bodies were unnecessary expenses for the administration of education. Mr Gibson seconded the proposal. Following a short discussion a vote was taken by the Committee. The outcome of the vote was:
For the Proposal
Mr S Wilson
Against the Proposal
Mr D Kennedy
The proposal was not adopted.
Mrs P Lewsley left the meeting at 12.57 p.m. and Mr Gibson left at 12.58 p.m.
6.Situation Report on the Payment of a Retainer Fee to Term-Time only Staff
The Chairman welcomed Mr John Curran, Inter-Board Services Manager with the Joint Negotiating Council for Education and Library Boards and Mr Arthur Rainey, Western Education and Library Board to the meeting. Mr Curran provided a situation report on the current position regarding the payment of a retainer fee to term-time only staff. A detailed discussion of the issues and proposals ensued.
Mr Wilson left the meeting at 1.15 p.m.
The Chairman thanked Mr Curran and Mr Rainey for attending the meeting and expressed the Committee's wish to see a speedy and equitable outcome to the issue. He asked Mr Curran to keep the Committee appraised of developments.
7. Any other Business
- Members discussed Mr Wilson's motion regarding the payment of a retainer fee to term-time only staff that was listed on the Order Paper for Tuesday 28 November.
8. Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting of the Committee will be held on Thursday 30 November at 10.15 a.m. in Room 135.
The meeting closed at 1.30 p.m.