MINUTES OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTY THIRD MEETING OF THE EDUCATION COMMITTEE IN ROOM 135 PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS ON THURSDAY 29 NOVEMBER 2001
Mr D Kennedy (Chairman)
Mr S Wilson (Deputy Chairman)
Mr T Gallagher
Mr O Gibson
Ms P Lewsley
Mr G McHugh
Mr K Robinson
Mrs E Bell
Mr B McElduff
Mrs C Darrah
Mrs V Artt
Miss P Bradley
Ms C Angelone
Ms G Kane (Assembly Research Directorate for items 3 and 5)
The Committee met at 10.45.a.m. in private session with the Deputy Chairman in the Chair.
1. Minutes of the Meetings of 20 and 22 November 2001
The minutes of the meetings of 20 and 22 November 2001 were agreed.
2. Matters Arising
(i) Copies of the Chairman's letters to the Minister of Education requesting further information on the position with regard to Principals and Vice-Principals and the maintenance of pay differentials and regarding information outstanding from the discussion on the Draft Programme for Government had been circulated for information.
(ii) Copies of the Chairman's letter to the Minister of Education requesting detailed information on the scope and timescale of the consultation exercise on the Report of the Review Body on Post-Primary Education were noted. The Committee agreed that further information on a number of questions should be requested from Mr Burns, Chairman of the Review Body, to assist consideration of the Report at a later date.
Ms Lewsley joined the meeting at 11.00 a.m.
3. Evidence Session with Mr Craig Clement, of Angus District Council, on the Proposals for a Common Funding Formula - Public Session
The Deputy Chairman welcomed Mrs Penny McKeown, the Specialist Adviser on the Proposals for a Common Funding Formula, to the meeting. As part of the Committee's consideration of the Proposals for a Common Funding Formula, he also welcomed Mr Craig Clement of Angus District Council to the meeting. Mr Clement briefed the Committee on the Treatment of Teachers' Salaries in Scotland and other funding issues. This was followed by a detailed question and answer session. The main issues covered included:
· The key features of Devolved School Management in Scotland and in particular the use of averages and actuals in the treatment of teachers' salaries;
· the calculation of funding for repairs, maintenance, furnishing and improvements;
· issues connected with small schools;
· deprivation funding;
· Special Educational Needs units; and
· the outcome of a recent Review of Devolved School Management and issues for future consideration including the outworkings of the 'McCrone Agreement'.
The Deputy Chairman thanked Mr Clement for attending the meeting and for an extremely useful discussion and he left the meeting.
The Chairman joined the meeting at 11.50 a.m. and assumed the chair.
The Committee returned to private session.
4. Chairman's Business
(i) The Chairman informed the Committee that the Chairman of the Committee for Finance and Personnel had referred papers on the Northern Ireland Civil Service Accommodation Review for consideration because of the cross cutting nature of that issue and the likelihood that it would impact on all Government Departments. The Committee agreed to consider the matter in detail once the Project Team's Interim Report and information requested from the Department of Education was available.
(ii) The Chairman advised the Committee that he had received correspondence from Mrs Bell, regarding the Review Body Report, 'Education for the 21st Century'. The Committee agreed to note the points raised and give further consideration when looking at the Report in detail over the next few months.
(iii) The Chairman advised the Committee that he had received information from Mr Eamon O'Neill, Chairperson of the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure, about a proposed visit to Northern Ireland by the French Ministry of Culture. The Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure intended to arrange a full day seminar and hoped that the Education Committee would participate. The Committee agreed to respond to Mr O'Neill welcoming the event.
(iv) Copies of the Northern Ireland Executive Response to the Disability Rights Task Force had been circulated. The Committee of the Centre had requested the views of the Education Committee on the Executive Response. The Committee agreed that a response should be sent to the Committee of the Centre highlighting that the main issues and recommendations raised by the Disability Rights Task Force, that were relevant to education, would be taken forward in the proposed Special Needs and Disability Bill which was due to be introduced in the 2001/02 Legislative Programme. During the Committee Stage of the Bill the Education Committee would give detailed consideration to how it addressed the issues raised by the Disability Rights Task Force.
(v) The Committee of the Centre had referred the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission Consultation Document on a Bill of Rights to the Education Committee and copies of the relevant parts of the summary had been circulated. The closing date for responses was 1 December 2001. After a short discussion the Committee agreed to request an extension of the closing date to allow detailed consideration of the education issues included in the document to be undertaken.
Ms Lewsley left the meeting at 12 00 noon
5. Consideration of the Draft Committee Report on the Proposals for a Common Funding Formula
Mrs Penny McKeown rejoined the meeting. The Committee discussed the evidence given by Mr Craig Clement within the context of the recommendations already agreed for inclusion in the Committee Report. The first part of the draft Report had been circulated and the Committee agreed to hold a meeting on Tuesday 4 December to discuss it.
6. Date and time of next meeting
The next meeting of the Committee was scheduled for Tuesday 4 December at 10.30 a.m. in Room 152, Parliament Buildings to consider the draft Report on the Proposals for a Common Funding Formula. A meeting of the Committee would also be held on Thursday 6 December at 10.15 a.m. in Room 135, Parliament Buildings.
7. Any Other Business
Mr Robinson raised the possibility of holding Committee meetings in other venues including schools. This was discussed briefly.
The meeting was adjourned at 12.15 p.m.