MINUTES OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE SIXTY SEVENTH MEETING OF THE EDUCATION COMMITTEE IN ROOM 135 PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS ON THURSDAY 25 OCTOBER 2001
Mr D Kennedy (Chairman)
Mr T Gallagher
Mr T Hamilton
Mrs P Lewsley
Mr B McElduff
Mr G McHugh
Mr K Robinson
Mrs E Bell
Mr J Fee
Mr O Gibson
Mr S Wilson
Mrs C Darrah
Mrs V Artt
Miss P Bradley
Ms C Angelone
Ms G Kane (Assembly Research Directorate for items 4 and 5)
The Committee met at 10.25 a.m. in private session.
1. Minutes of the Meeting of 18 October 2001
The minutes of the meeting of 18 October 2001 were agreed.
2. Matters Arising
- Copies of the Chairman's letter to the Minister of Education regarding the timing of the Committee response to the Proposals for a Common Funding Formula had been circulated.
- Copies of the Chairman's letter requesting further information on the costs associated with the implementation of the Threshold Assessment Scheme for teachers had been circulated for information.
- Copies of a letter from the Minister of Education informing the Committee that, due to a prior engagement, he was unavailable to attend the meeting scheduled for 8 November to discuss the Draft Programme for Government and Public Service agreement in respect of the Department of Education had been circulated. Following a short discussion the Committee agreed to reschedule themeeting scheduled for the morning of 15 November to the afternoon to facilitate the Minister's attendance to discuss this important matter.
3. Chairman's Business
- The Chairman thanked members for their contribution to the debate on 22 October on the Committee Report on the Review of Post-Primary Education in Northern Ireland. The Committee agreed to consider in detail the Report of the Post-Primary Review Body after the meeting with Mr Gerry Burns to discuss the proposals.
- The Chairman advised the Committee that the Minister of Education had written outlining his decision to change the Viability Criteria for Post Primary Irish Medium and Integrated Schools. Copies of the letter had been circulated. The Committee agreed to discuss concerns with the Minister of Education at the meeting scheduled for 15 November.
- The Chairman informed members that Racial Equality in Education Conference had now been scheduled for Thursday 8 November. The Committee agreed that, as a Committee meeting is scheduled for that day, the Conference Organisers should be asked to supply a report of the issues discussed for members' information.
- The Chairman proposed a motion to enable the Examiner of Statutory Rules to report his technical findings on each Rule to the Assembly, the relevant Department and to publish his report. The Committee agreed that:
The Committee for Education resolves, under Standing Order 41 to delegate to the Examiner of Statutory Rules the technical scrutiny of Statutory Rules referred to the Committee under the above Standing Order.
The Committee further resolves that in carrying out this function the Examiner shall be authorised to report his technical findings on each Statutory Rule to the Assembly, through the Business Office, and to the relevant Department, as well as to the Committee itself and to publish his report.
- The Chairman informed the Committee that the closing date for responses on the Taskforce on Employability and Long-Term Unemployment discussion document had been extended until mid-November and a draft response would be discussed at the next meeting of the Committee.
4. Consideration of the Committee Response on the Draft Budget 2002/03
A draft Committee response on the draft Budget 2002/03 had been circulated. Following detailed consideration the Committee agreed the response to be sent to the Committee for Finance and Personnel and the Minister of Education.
5. Briefing by the Chief Inspector of Schools on the Role of the Education and Training Inspectorate -Public Session
The Chairman welcomed the Chief Inspector, Ms Marion Matchett, and Assistant Chief Inspectors Mr Stanley Gowdy and Ms Loretta Watson to the meeting. A detailed briefing took place followed by a question and answer session. The main issues raised were:
- the role and responsibilities of the Inspectorate;
- the scheduling of Inspections and the Inspection Strategy;
- the role of the Inspectorate with regard to Pastoral Care and Child Protection;
- the impact of Inspections on Schools and Teachers;
- the Inspectorate's Complaints Procedure;
- measuring the effectiveness of the Inspectorate; and
- the status of the Inspectorate as part of the Department of Education and the perception of its impartiality.
The Chairman thanked the Chief Inspector and Assistant Chief Inspectors and they left the meeting.
Ms Lewsley and Mr McElduff joined the meeting at 11.52 a.m.
Mr Robinson left the meeting at 11.52 a.m. and Mr Gallagher left at 11.57 a.m.
6. Briefing by the Specialist Adviser, Mrs Penny McKeown, on the Proposals for a Common Funding Formula - Private Session
The Chairman welcomed Mrs McKeown, the Specialist Adviser on the Proposals for a Common Funding Formula to the meeting. Mrs McKeown briefed the Committee on the proposals under the Targeting Social Need factor.
Following a detailed discussion the Committee agreed that further information should be requested from the Department of Education on a number of the objectives and targets included in the Department's New TSN Action plan. The Committee also agreed that the Specialist Adviser should prepare a paper expanding on the other main issues arising from the Proposals and highlight possible recommendations in these areas.
Ms Lewsley left the meeting at 12.13 p.m. and the meeting was adjourned.