MINUTES OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE SIXTY FIFTH MEETING OF THE EDUCATION COMMITTEE IN ROOM 135 PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS ON THURSDAY 11 OCTOBER 2001
Mr D Kennedy (Chairman)
Mr S Wilson (Deputy Chairman)
Mrs E Bell
Mr T Gallagher
Mr O Gibson
Mr T Hamilton
Mrs P Lewsley
Mr G McHugh
Mr K Robinson
Mr J Fee
Mr B McElduff
Mrs C Darrah
Mrs V Artt
Miss P Bradley
Ms C Angelone
Ms Gillian Kane (Assembly Research Directorate for item 2)
Committee met at 10.15am.private session.
1. Minutes of the Meeting of 4 October 2001
The minutes of the meeting of 4 October 2001 were agreed.
Mr Gallagher joined the meeting at 10.25 a.m.
The Chairman welcomed Miss Pat Bradley, a new member of staff, to the Education Committee office.
2. Discussion with the Minister of Education and officials on the Proposals for a Common Funding Formula - Public Session
The Chairman welcomed the Minister of Education, Mr Martin McGuinness, Dr Browne, Head of School Funding and Administration, Mr Caldwell and Mr Anderson to the meeting. A detailed discussion on the Proposals for a Common Funding Formula took place. The key issues raised included:
- transitional arrangements;
- the use of Free School Meals as a indicator for TSN funding;
- the need to ensure that TSN funding is being used effectively;
- use of Key Stage 2 results as an indicator SEN funding;
- the funding of Irish medium schools;
- teachers' salary costs;
- funding for small schools;
- the additional funding required if the high ASB model was implemented and possible implications for centrally provided services;
- the need for equitable treatment of schools; and
- funding for the children of service personnel and the children of travellers;
The Chairman informed the Minister that the Committee had welcomed the decision to postpone the implementation of a Common Funding Formula until April 2003 and thanked him for attending the meeting. The Minister offered to attend the Committee again if any further issues arose during the Committee's deliberations. The Minister left the meeting.
Mrs Bell and Mr Gallagher left the meeting at 11.30am.
The Departmental officials continued with a presentation on the results of the consultation exercise on the Proposals for a Common Funding Formula. This was followed by a question and answer session during which the following issues were discussed:
- the limited response to the consultation exercise by schools;
- the method of assessing the responses to the consultation exercise;
- the responses to the proposals regarding teachers' salaries;
- a graph showing Teacher Costs as a percentage of total resources;
- the responses to the proposal to skew resources to Primary Schools; and
- the responses to the proposals regarding TSN Funding.
The Chairman thanked the officials and they left the meeting.
Mrs Lewsley left the meeting at 11.55am.
Given that the implementation of a Common Funding Formula for schools has been deferred until April 2003, the Committee agreed that its response to the Minister of Education on the proposals should now be completed by the end of November 2001.
3. Briefing on the main issues arising from the Proposals for a Common Funding Formula.
A paper by the Specialist Advisor Mrs Penny McKeown on the main issues arising from the proposals for a Common Funding Formula had been circulated. The Committee agreed to consider the paper at the next scheduled meeting of the Committee.
4 . Matters Arising from the Minutes
- Arrangements were being made for the Minister and officials to attend the Committee to discuss the Draft Programme for Government and Public Service Agreement.
- Copies of a letter from the Minister of Education regarding the level of Teaching Costs as a proportion of school Budgets had been circulated.
- Information on the bids submitted by the Department of Education for Executive Programme Funds had been circulated. The Committee briefly discussed the bids and the consequences if they were not met. The Committee agreed its priority for the bids for the Social Inclusion/Community Regeneration Fund, the Service Modernisation Fund and the New Directions Fund and instructed the Clerk to prepare a response.
5. Chairman's Business
- A discussion document published by the TaskForce on Employability and Long-Term Unemployment and the record of the two meetings held with education policy-makers and post-primary school staff to discuss the issues, had been circulated. The Chairman informed the Committee that the Taskforce had been established to drive forward action on employability and reduce long-term employment and it had requested the Committee's views. The Committee agreed to consider the matter further at the meeting scheduled for 25 October. In the meantime research on the issues provided by the Assembly Research and Library Service would be circulated.
- The Chairman advised the Committee that a consultation document had issued from the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister on the Appointment of a Commissioner for Children for Northern Ireland. The Committee agreed to consider the response it had already submitted to the Committee of the Centre on the subject.
- A paper on the Role and Purpose of the Chairpersons' Liaison Group had been circulated. The Chairman asked members to consider it and submit any comments to him or the Clerk.
- A paper explaining the make-up of the figures in the Northern Ireland Schools Variance Report was circulated for members' information.
Mr Robinson left the meeting at 12.25pm
6. Date and time of next meeting
The next meeting of the Committee was scheduled for Thursday 18 October at 10.15 a.m. in Room 135, Parliament Buildings.
The meeting adjourned at 12.30 p.m.