MINUTES OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE HUNDREDTH MEETING OF THE EDUCATION COMMITTEE IN ROOM 135, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS ON THURSDAY 6 JUNE 2002
Mr D Kennedy (Chairman)
Mr T Gallagher
Mr O Gibson
Mr A Maginness
Mr G McHugh
Mr K Robinson
Mr S Wilson (Deputy Chairman)
Mrs E Bell
Mr J Fee
Mr T Hamilton
Mr B McElduff
Mr H Farren (Committee Clerk)
Mrs V Artt (Assistant Committee Clerk)
Ms M Austin (Assistant Committee Clerk)
Mr D Stevenson (Clerical Supervisor)
Miss N Finlay (Clerical Assistant)
Ms Gillian Kane (Assembly Research Directorate for Item 4)
The Committee met at 10.45 a.m. in private session.
The Chairman welcomed Mr H Farren , Clerk to the Committee of the Centre, to the meeting and informed members that Mrs C Darrah's mother was unwell. The Committee expressed their best wishes for her speedy recovery.
1. Minutes of the Meetings of 28 May 2002 and 30 May 2002
The minutes of the meeting of 28 May 2002 and 30 May 2002 were agreed.
2. Matters Arising
A copy of the agreed Committee response on the Department of Education's draft bids for the next round of Executive Programme Funds was circulated for information.
3. Chairman's Business
(i) A copy of a note from the Department of Education regarding a briefing on the French Post-Primary Education System on 20 June 2002 had been circulated. Members agreed to contact the Clerk if they wished to attend.
(ii) The Chairman advised the Committee that a copy of information regarding a CD-Rom for primary schools on the safety on school buses had been received. The Committee agreedthat the information should be copied to the Committee for the Environment and the Committee for Regional Development for information.
(iii) The Chairman informed members that a letter had been received from the Head of Mathematics at Campbell College regarding the instruction that schools in Northern Ireland are no longer permitted to use EDEXCEL as an exam board. The Committee agreed to write to the Minister to seek clarification of the issue.
(iv) The Chairman informed members that a letter had been received from a former assessor with the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment regarding errors in CCEA mathematics examination papers. The Committee agreed to write to the Minister to seek clarification of the matter.
(v) The Chairman advised members that a letter had been received from the Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission requesting a meeting with the Committee to discuss the Commission's publication on Human Rights and the Review of Post-Primary Education. The Committee agreed that arrangements should be made for the representatives of the Commission to attend a meeting to discuss the matter in due course.
(vi) The Chairman reminded members that the launch of the Northern Ireland School Caterer's Association will take place on 11 June 2002 at 2.30 p.m. in the Long Gallery. Members were advised to contact the Clerk if they wished to attend.
(vii) The Chairman proposed that the Rural Community Network be invited to brief the Committee on their discussion document, 'Small Rural Schools in Northern Ireland'. The Committee agreed that representatives of the Rural Community Network should be invited to attend a meeting with the Chairman and Deputy Chairman and any other members available to attend.
(viii) An updated Committee Work Programme had been circulated at the meeting and the Chairman advised the Committee that arrangements had been made for the Southern Education and Library Board to attend the Committee meeting scheduled for 25 June 2002 to discuss their financial situation.
4. Briefing by Departmental officials on the draft Education and Libraries Bill
The Chairman welcomed Mr Stephen Peover, Mr Garth Manderson and Ms Mary Potter to the meeting to brief the Committee on the draft Education and Libraries Bill.
The officials outlined the primary purpose of the Bill and the range of other provisions on education matters contained within it. A question and answer session covered a number of points including:
- the legislative provision enabling the Department to introduce a single common formula;
- funding for the implementation of proposals;
- consultations with schools by representative sampling;
- the proposed power to remove of school Boards of Governors in exceptional circumstances; and
- child protection and the duty of acting 'in loco parentis'.
The Chairman thanked the officials for a very useful and informative discussion and they left the meeting.
Mr O Gibson left the meeting at 11.45 a.m.
6. Committee Business
(i) A copy of a letter from the Minister of Education regarding the final total expenditure for managing the Threshold Assessment Scheme had been circulated. The Committee agreedto write to the Minister regarding the cost of implementing the scheme and to seek clarification of whether or not there is any recourse for the teachers who were unsuccessful. The Committee also agreed to highlight to the Minister of Education the need for the interim report on the salary differentials for Principals and Vice-Principals to be completed as quickly as possible.
(ii) The Committee noted a copy of the Needs Assessment and Executive Position Report provided by the Committee for Finance and Personnel.
(iii) The Committee considered the draft Programme for the Committee meeting scheduled for 13 June 2002 in Armagh and agreed the content.
(iv) The Committee considered the bids under the Reinvestment and Reform Initiative: Short Term Actions that had been submitted by the Department of Education and agreed that the Department should be invited to brief the Committee on the background to the bids at the meeting scheduled for Tuesday 18 June 2002.
(v) A copy of papers regarding Education and Research Development in Agriculture and Food Science had been circulated. The Committee noted the contents and agreed to inform the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development that Further and Higher Education is the responsibility of the Committee for Employment and Learning and that the Education Committee will keep a watching brief.
7. Date and Time of Next Meeting
The next meeting of the Committee was scheduled for Tuesday 11 June 2002 at 12.30 p.m. in Room 144, Parliament Buildings.
The Committee was adjourned at 11.50 p.m.