MINUTES OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTY SECOND MEETING OF THE EDUCATION COMMITTEE IN ROOM 135 PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS ON THURSDAY 22 NOVEMBER 2001
Mr D Kennedy (Chairman)
Mr S Wilson (Deputy Chairman)
Mrs E Bell
Mr T Gallagher
Mr T Hamilton
Mr B McElduff
Mr G McHugh
Mr K Robinson
Apologies: Mr O Gibson
Mrs C Darrah
Mrs V Artt
Miss P Bradley
Ms C Angelone
The Committee met at 10.20. a.m. in private session.
1. Minutes of the Meeting of 15 November 2001
The minutes of the meeting of 15 November 2001 were agreed.
2. Matters Arising
(i) Copies of the Chairman's letter to the Minister of Education requesting further information on the Threshold Assessment Scheme and the Reviews of the Literacy and Numeracy Strategies and the School Support Programme had been circulated for information. The Committee agreed to request further information on the position with regard to Principals and Vice/Principals and the maintenance of differentials.
(ii) Copies of the Chairman's letter to the Minister of Education requesting information on how the inescapable pressures identified but not met in the September Monitoring Round would be addressed had been circulated for information.
(iii) The Committee noted the response from the Minister of Education to the Committee's submission on the Draft Budget 2002/03.
(iv) The Committee agreed the programme for the proposed visit to British Telecom Tower on 13 December and noted the need to re-arrange several meetings.
Mr McElduff and Mr Hamilton joined the meeting at 10.30 a.m.
3. Chairman's Business
(i) The Chairman advised the Committee that the Clerk to the Committee of the Centre had written regarding that Committee's European Inquiry. The Committee had been asked for its views on its current approach to European Institutes and to seek information from the Department of Education. The Committee agreed that the Clerk should write to the Department of Education to request the required information. The Committee also agreed that a response to the Inquiry would not be submitted as the work programme had not yet included any European issues.
(ii) The Chairman informed the Committee that correspondence had been received from the Clerk to the Committee for the Environment about that Committee's Inquiry into Transport used by Children Travelling to and from School. The Committee discussed the correspondence and agreed to provide copies of responses received from the Minister of Education and the five Education and Library Boards to the Report to the Committee for the Environment for information.
4. Consideration of a Committee Response on the Draft Programme for Government/Public Service Agreements
Copies of a draft response on the Draft Programme for Government/Public Service Agreements had been circulated. Following a short discussion a response to be submitted to the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister was agreed.
5. Date and time of next meeting
The next meeting of the Committee was scheduled for Thursday 29 November at 10.15 a.m. in Room 135, Parliament Buildings to consider the first draft of the Committee Report on the Proposals for a Common Funding Formula.
Mr Gallagher joined the meeting at 10.45 a.m.
6. Report of the Review Body on Post-Primary Education
(i) The Committee agreed that the Chairman should write to the Minister of Education seeking further information on the proposed Consultation Exercise on the Review Body Report. The Committee was concerned that the consultation meetings appeared to be closed, with invitees only able to attend.
(ii) The Committee also agreed to look at proposals for considering the Report in detail after the Christmas Recess.
7. Briefing and Question and Answer Session on the Report of the Review Body on Post-Primary Education 'Education for the 21st Century' - Public Session
The Chairman welcomed Mr Gerry Burns, Chairman of the Review Body, Mr Tom Shaw, Member of the Review Body, Professor Don McCloy, Educational Adviser to the Review Body and Mr Alan McVeigh, Secretary to the Review Body to the meeting. The Review Body representatives presented their main findings. This was followed by a detailed question and answer session. The main issues covered included:
- the proposed Pupil Profile and concerns about its introduction and use;
- the proposed transfer and admissions criteria;
- the use of proximity to a school and the definition of compelling individual circumstances in transferring pupils to post-primary schools;
- parental choice and the role of professional guidance by teachers;
the impact of the proposals on Integrated Schools, Irish Medium Schools and Special Schools;
- the creation, management and administration of the proposed Collegiates;
the ability of schools to retain their ethos within a Collegiate;
- how the proposals could assist in achieving parity of esteem for academic and vocational courses/qualifications;
- the proposed arrangements for monitoring standards within the Collegiates;
- the impact of the proposals on home to school transport costs; and
- other cost implications of the proposals.
The Chairman complimented Mr Burns and his team on the completion and publication of the Report and thanked them for a useful discussion. Mr Burns agreed to provide further information or clarification if necessary at a future date. They then left the meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at 12.50 p.m.