MINUTES OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTY NINTH MEETING OF THE EDUCATION COMMITTEE IN ROOM 135, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS ON THURSDAY 17 JANUARY 2002
Mr D Kennedy (Chairman)
Mr S Wilson (Deputy Chairman)
Mrs E Bell
Mr J Fee
Mr T Gallagher
Mr O Gibson
Mr T Hamilton
Ms P Lewsley
Mr B McElduff
Mr G McHugh
Mr K Robinson
Mrs C Darrah
Mrs V Artt
Ms S O'Neill
The Committee met at 10.25 a.m. in private session.
1. Minutes of the Meeting of 10 January 2002.
The minutes of the meeting of 10 January 2002 were agreed.
2. Matters Arising
- The Committee noted the Chairman's letter to the Minister of Education requesting information regarding the payment of Threshold Awards to some teachers.
- Copies of the Chairman's letter to the Minister of Education regarding the proposed changes to the existing LMS Formulae and highlighting the relevant recommendation in the Committee Report on the Proposals for a Common Funding Formula had been circulated for information.
- The Committee briefly discussed the debate on the Committee Report on the Proposals for a Common Funding Formula and agreed to write to the Assembly Business Committee regarding a number ofpoints. The Committee noted that the Minister of Education would respond to the issues raised in the Report in due course.
- Copies of a response from the Minister of Education to the Committee's request for a meeting to discuss the issues raised at the North South Ministerial Council Education Sectoral meeting had been circulated. The Committee agreed that arrangements should be made to meet with the Minister once further information on the North South Ministerial Council Education Sectoral meeting had been provided. The Committee also agreed to seek clarification regarding the availability of North South Ministerial Council papers.
Mrs Bell joined the meeting at 10.35 a.m.
- The Committee noted a letter from the Northern Ireland Teachers' Council regarding the meeting with the Minister of Education about its call for an independent inquiry into teachers' salaries, conditions of service etc. The Committee was awaiting a reply from the Minister on the matter.
- Information provided by the Department of Education regarding the pressures and easements identified in the December Monitoring Round had been circulated. Following a short discussion the Committee agreed to request clarification of several of the bids that had been submitted.
Mr Fee joined the meeting at 10.40 a.m.
- Information provided by the Department of Education regarding European Funding and the European Council of Ministers' meetings had been circulated for information.
- Copies of the Department of Education's Draft Service Delivery Agreement had been circulated. The Committee agreed that Departmental officials should attend the meeting scheduled for 31 January 2002 to discuss the matter.
- The meeting with CCEA representatives concerning the investigation into the exam grade errors in GCSE Home Economics was briefly discussed. The Committee agreed to write to the Minister of Education supporting CCEA's bid for capital funding for computer system improvements that would enhance control over the processing of examination results.
- The Chairman advised the Committee that the Department of Education intended to announce details of the Capital Building Programme 2002/03 towards the end of March. The Committee agreed to meet with the Minister of Education and officials on 21 February to discuss the matter. It was also agreed to seek clarification of the reason for the change in timing of the announcement.
3. Chairman's Business
- Information provided by the Department of Education regarding the Northern Ireland Civil Service Accommodation Review had been circulated. The Committee agreed that the criteria for the Review should be clarified and that Departmental officials should attend to discuss a number of issues once the interim report on the matter was available.
- The Chairman informed members that arrangements had been made for he and the Deputy Chairman to meet informally with representatives of Love for Life on Monday 21 January. He and the Deputy Chairman were also due to meet representatives of the National Association of Head Teachers immediately after the Committee meeting to discuss pay differentials for Principals and Vice-Principals. He invited any available members to attend the meetings.
4. Committee response to the Review of School Information and Prospectuses.
A compilation of information on the responses to the consultation exercise on the Review of School information and Prospectuses had been circulated. Members agreed to submit views/comments to the Clerk who would prepare a draft Committee response for consideration.
5. Date and Time of Next Meeting
The next meeting of the Committee was scheduled for Thursday 24 January 2002 at 10.15 a.m. in Room 135, Parliament Buildings. A number of members indicated that they were unavailable to attend the meeting and given the need for a quorum, the Committee agreed to postpone the meeting until 29 January 2002 at 12.30 p.m.
Ms Lewsley left the meeting at 11.00 a.m.
6. Discussion with the Minister of Education on the Consultation Process on the Review of Post-Primary Education and the Burns Proposals - Public Session
- Copies of a response from the Post-Primary Review Body to the Committee's request for additional clarification on a number of issues in its Report had been circulated.
- The Chairman welcomed the Minister of Education and Departmental officials Mr Gerry McGinn, Dr Mark Browne and Mr Leslie Ashe to the meeting. The Minister outlined his plans for the consultation process on the Review of Post-Primary Education and the Burns Proposals. This was followed by a question and answer session. The main issues covered included:
- the need for change;
- the Report by the Burns Review Team;
- the initial views on the Burns Proposals including the areas of consensus and areas of concern;
- the aims of the consultation exercise and the misconception that the Burns Proposals had already been accepted as policy;
- the different methods to be used to consult including the production of a video and the distribution of a pamphlet to every household;
- the need to ensure that the video and pamphlet was impartial and covered the whole range of issues;
- the cost of the consultation exercise;
- the extension of the consultation exercise until 28 June 2002; and
- the legislative requirements to implement a new system.
Mrs Bell left the meeting at 11.45 a.m.
The Chairman noted the agreement to provide the Committee with draft copies of the video and pamphlet for consideration and comment before they were finalised and thanked the Minister and officials for attending the meeting.
The Committee was adjourned at 12.20 p.m.