MINUTES OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTY SEVENTH MEETING OF THE EDUCATION COMMITTEE IN THE BOARD ROOM BT TOWER BELFAST ON THURSDAY 13 DECEMBER 2001
Mr D Kennedy (Chairman)
Mr S Wilson (Deputy Chairman)
Mr T Gallagher
Mr O Gibson
Ms P Lewsley
Mr B McElduff
Mr G McHugh
Mr K Robinson
Mrs E Bell
Mrs C Darrah
Mrs V Artt
Miss P Bradley
Ms S O'Neill
The Committee met at 10.50 a.m. in private session.
1. Minutes of the Meetings of 6 and 11 December 2001.
The minutes of the meetings of 6 and 11 December were agreed.
2. Matters Arising
- The Minister of Education's response to the Committee's comments and recommendations regarding the Draft Programme for Government/Draft Public Service Agreement had been circulated. The Committee noted that the Department of Education's Draft Service Delivery Agreement should have been available for consultation and discussion and agreed to write to the Ministerof Education to ensure that there was no delay in receiving it.
3. Chairman's Business
- Copies of two letters received by the Chairman regarding the Review Body Report 'Education for the 21st Century' had been circulated. The Committee agreed to note the points raised for further consideration when looking at the Report in detail in due course.
- The Chairman advised the Committee that he had received correspondence from the Irish National Teachers Organisation regarding the first phase of its industrial action in connection with its request for an independent inquiry into salaries, conditions of service etc. for teachers and Principals/Vice-Principals. The Committee agreed to write to the Minister of Education expressing concern and to request details of the outcome of the meetings he was due to hold with both Management and Teachers' sides.
- The Chairman informed the Committee that the Post-Primary Principals' Association of the Southern Education and Library Board had written regarding the lack of progress concerning the maintenance of salary differentials of Principals and Vice-Principals. Clarification of the current position had been requested from the Minister of Education and the Committee agreed to considerthe matter when the information was available.
- The Chairman advised the Committee that he had been invited, in his capacity as Chairman, to address a meeting of the Primary Principals Association. The Association had also extended an invitation to other members of the Committee and members agreed to inform the Clerk if they wished to attend.
- The Committee noted the Minister of Education's commitment to provide a full report on the North/South Ministerial Council Education Sectoral Meeting and agreed to write requesting it without delay. The Committee also agreed to invite the Minister to attend a Committee meeting to discuss the issues in more detail.
- The Chairman advised the Committee that a Consultation Document 'Catering for Healthier Lifestyles' had been published by the Department of Education and copies were circulated. The Committee agreed to consider the document in detail in due course.
- The Chairman informed the Committee that representatives of Hillsborough and Newport Primary Schools would be visiting Parliament Buildings and he and the Deputy Chairman had agreed to meet them to discuss the proposed amalgamation of the schools. He invited any other members who were available to attend.
4. Committee Response to the Consultation Paper on the Proposals for a Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults Bill
The Committee discussed the Consultation Paper on the Proposals for a Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults Bill which had been published by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety. The Committee agreed an initial response. The Committee also agreed that Department of Education officials should be invited to attend the Committee to provide further information relevant to education and answer questions.
5. Consideration of the Draft Committee Report on the Proposals for a Common Funding Formula
- The Committee noted that the amendments agreed at the meeting on 11 December had been incorporated into the final draft Report.
- The Committee agreed pages 25 to 36 of the draft Report.
- The Committee considered a recommendation on the General Principles and, following amendment of the wording, agreed it.
- The Committee also agreed revised wording of the section Addressing Issues of Multiple Disadvantage.
- The Committee gave further consideration to the section on Special Sectoral or Area Concerns and after a detailed discussion a majority of members agreed to revise the wording of the recommendation regarding Irish-Medium Schools.
- The Committee agreed that a section including all the recommendations should be added to the front of the Report for ease of reference.
- The final draft of the Committee's Report was circulated and read paragraph by paragraph:
Introduction Paragraphs 1.1 to 1.4 read and agreed
The ContextParagraphs 2.1 to 2.4 read and agreed
The Proposals for a Common
Funding FormulaParagraphs 3.1 to 3.3 read and agreed
Review of the EvidenceParagraphs 4.1 to 4.13 read and agreed
FindingsParagraph 5.1 read, amended and agreed
Paragraph 5.2 read, amended and agreed
Paragraph 5.3 to 5.6 read and agreed
Paragraph 5.7 read, amended and agreed
Paragraph 5.8 to 5.9 read and agreed
- The Committee agreed -
"That the Report should be the Second Report of the Committee for Education to the Assembly and that it should be printed."
- The Committee noted that the Motion to debate the Report was provisionally listed for Tuesday 15 January 2002.
- The Committee agreed that embargoed copies of the Report should be sent to the media prior to the debate.
- The Committee also agreed that copies should be sent to those organisations and individuals who had submitted evidence to the Committee.
- The Committee recorded its thanks to the Specialist Adviser, Mrs Penny McKeown, the Assembly Research Directorate and the Committee staff for the work in preparing the Report.
6. Date and Time of Next Meeting
The next meeting of the Committee was scheduled for Thursday 10 January 2002 at 10.15 a.m. in Room 135, Parliament Buildings.
7. Any Other Business
Mr Gallagher raised concerns regarding a school transport accident in which a 14 year old pupil was injured and the issue of the identification of buses carrying children to and from school. The Committee agreed to write to the Minister of Education to highlight its concern and to request clarification of the position.