MINUTES OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE FORTY FIFTH MEETING OF THE EDUCATION COMMITTEE IN ROOM 135, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS ON THURSDAY 26 APRIL 2001
Present: Mr D Kennedy (Chairman)
Mr S Wilson (Deputy Chairman)
Mrs E Bell
Mr T Gallagher
Mrs P Lewsley
Mr B McElduff
Mr K Robinson
Apologies:Mr J Fee
Mr O Gibson Mr G McHugh
In Attendance:Mrs C Darrah
Mrs J McMurray
Miss J Adair
Ms C Angelone
The Committee met at 10.45 a.m. in private session.
1.Minutes of the Meeting of 5 April 2001
The minutes of the meeting of 5 April 2001 were agreed.
2. Matters arising from the Minutes of Proceedings
- Copies of the letters to the Minister of Education regarding the proposed timescale for the Review of School Information and requesting a meeting to discuss the General Teaching Council (Constitution) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001 had been circulated. The Chairman advised members that the Minister had indicated that he would discuss the proposed Statutory Rule when he meets with the Committee to discuss the Capital Building Programme 2001/02 on 3 May.
- Members discussed the Committee's forward work programme and noted that in May two meetings would be held on Tuesday afternoons. The visit to Scotland was scheduled to take place from 9 to 11 May and a draft programme was noted and agreed.
- The Committee discussed the proposals for the appointment of a Specialist Adviser for the Review of Post-Primary Education and agreed a course of action.
- The Committee noted the Minister of Education's letter regarding the LMS Briefing Conferences. Members agreed to write to the Minister of Education requesting further information regarding the percentage of LMS Funding accounted for by teachers' salaries and a reply to the Committee's letter regarding the timescale of the Review.
3. Discussion of draft Committee response on the Proposals for Standards for Pre-School Settings
The Committee agreed to discuss a draft response on the Proposals for Standards for Pre-School Settings at the meeting on 3 May. Members agreed to submit to the Clerk any particular issues they wished included in the response.
4. Committee Business
- The Committee welcomed the response from the Department of Education indicating that the CCEA's guidance on Relationships and Sexuality Education would be issued to schools without delay.
- The Committee noted a letter from the Chairman of the Committee for Finance and Personnel to the Minister for Finance regarding the 2002/03 Financial Cycle and Departmental Bids.
- Research on the educational issues that could fall within the remit of a Children's Commissioner had been circulated. Members, noting that the first stage of a Children's Commissioner Bill was due before the Assembly shortly, agreed to write to the Chairman of the Committee of the Centre to clarify the position regarding the Inquiry before considering a response.
5. Chairman's Business
- The Chairman briefed members on a meeting that he and the Deputy Chairman had with representatives of Barnardo's to discuss funding difficulties for their Afterschools Services. They had been impressed by the fact that the projects were evaluated to assess their effectiveness and that they sat particularly well with the objectives of new TSN. The Committee agreed that the Chairman would write to the Minister of Education regarding the funding difficulties faced by this type of project in general and Barnardo's in particular.
- The Chairman advised members that arrangements had been made for he and the Deputy Chairman to meet with Mr Tony Fleck of the Northern Ireland Drinks Industry to discuss alcohol education in schools on Monday 30 May. He invited any available members to attend the meeting.
- The Chairman informed the Committee that he had received an invitation from the Children's Law Centre to attend the launch of an awareness video on racism on Wednesday 2 May. He was unable to attend due to a prior engagement and invited other members interested in representing the Committee to discuss the matter with him.
6. Discussion with Department of Education officials on the proposed Education (Pupil Records) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001
The Chairman welcomed Ms Thomson and Mr Bradley of the Curriculum Assessment Branch to the meeting to discuss the proposed Education (Pupil Records) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001. Mr Bradley gave a brief overview of the proposals followed by members' questions. Key issues discussed included the impact of the proposed Statutory Rule on the right of access of parents and pupils to pupil records, the relationship between the proposed Rule and the Data Protection Act, the timescale of the proposed changes and training for teachers involved in completing pupils' reports.
The Chairman thanked the officials for a useful discussion. The Committee resolved that it had no objections to the proposed Statutory Rule.
7. Evidence Session with the Institute of Directors on Post-Primary Education
As part of the Committee's consideration of the Review of Post-Primary Education the Chairman welcomed Mr Bell, Mr McCall and Ms Brown to the meeting. They gave oral evidence on the submission by the Institute of Directors to the Committee on the Review of Post-Primary education and this was followed by a detailed question and answer session. Areas discussed included:
- The deficiencies of the current system
- The need to retain the high standards of academic performance achieved by the current system in any reform
- The need to develop a partnership approach between education, business and industry
- The benefits of differentiated or two-route system of post-primary education
- Possible systems of selection and assessment and the role of parental choice
- Ways of establishing parity of esteem between academic and vocational education
- The most appropriate age of transfer to post-primary education
- The curriculum
Hansard recorded the session for publication in due course.
8. Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting of the Committee will be held on Thursday 3 May at 10.15 a.m.
Any other Business
- Correspondence received by all Committee members regarding the appeals procedure for pupils who do not get into the primary school of their choice was discussed. The Committee noted that an appeal was ongoing but agreed to write to the Department seeking clarification on the procedures followed by Appeals Panels and the information available to appellants.
The meeting closed at 12.45 p.m.