MINUTES OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE ONE HUNDRED AND NINTH MEETING OF THE EDUCATION COMMITTEE IN ROOM 135, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS ON THURSDAY 19 SEPTEMBER 2002 Present:
Mr D Kennedy (Chairman)
Mr S Wilson (Deputy Chairman)
Mrs E Bell
Mr A Maginness
Mr G McHugh
Mr M McLaughlin
Mr K Robinson
Mr J Fee
Mr T Gallagher
Mr T Hamilton
Mrs C Darrah (Committee Clerk)
Ms M Austin (Assistant Committee Clerk)
Mr D Stevenson (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr C Henderson (Clerical Assistant)
Mr P McVeigh (Clerical Assistant)
The Committee met at 10.25 a.m. in public session.
1. Minutes of the Meeting of 12 September 2002
The minutes of the meeting of 12 September 2002 were agreed.
2. Matters Arising
(i) The Chairman advised members that the Committee motion for an extension of the Committee Stage of the Education and Libraries Bill until 22 November was provisionally listed for next week's Plenary Session.
(ii) The Chairman informed members that an up-date on the position regarding the Review of Civil Service Accommodation was included in the paper on the Forward Work Programme.
3. Chairman's Business
The Chairman advised members that the Department of Finance and Personnel were holding two seminars on the draft Budget and Finance Issues on 19 September and 20 September in Parliament Buildings had been received. Members agreed to contact the Clerk if they wished to attend.
Mr S Wilson joined the meeting at 10.30 a.m.
(i) A copy of a letter from the Chairman of the Health, Social Services and Public Safety Committee regarding the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults Bill was circulated at the meeting. The Committee agreed to forward the letter to the Department of Education and consider the matter further at the next meeting.
(ii) A copy of correspondence from the Chief Executive of the Western Education and Libraries Board on behalf of the Chief Executives of all five Boards regarding common financial pressures had been circulated. The Committee considered the correspondence and agreed to write to the Minister of Education regarding the matter. Members also agreed to discuss the issues during the scrutiny of the draft Budget.
Mrs E Bell joined the meeting at 10.35 a.m.
(iii) A copy of the analysis of the responses to the Department of Education's consultation document on New Compulsory Nutritional Standards for School Meals had been circulated. Members noted the information and expressed concern about the possible effect on school canteens. The Committee agreed to seek further information regarding the consultation and clarification of when proposals for implementation would be provided for consideration.
5. Committee Business
(i) A copy of relevant papers on the New TSN Annual Report and Revised Action Plan for 1 April 2002 to 31 March 2003 for education had been circulated. After a detailed discussion the Committee agreed to seek further information on a number of issues including the revision of some targets, progress made on others and how the effectiveness of the funding was being monitored.
(ii) A draft Forward Work Programme and a paper outlining the main priorities and other issues was circulated. A lengthy discussion took place on the priorities including the handling of the Inquiry into Early Years Learning and the Review of Post-Primary Education. The Committee, noting the need to hold two meetings a week and longer meetings on a number of occasions agreed the work programme until the end of November 2002. The Committee also agreed to defer decisions on the prioritisation of other work items until further information regarding the timetable for the next steps in the Review of Post-Primary Education was available.
6. Education and Libraries Bill
(i) A research paper outlining the Child Protection issues in the Education Act 2002 in England had been circulated. The Committee noted that there would be an opportunity to explore the issues highlighted during the briefing session with the Departmental official on the Education and Libraries Bill.
(ii) The Committee agreed to invite NIPPA to give oral evidence in relation to the issue of two year olds and funded nursery school places to assist further consideration of a possible amendment to the Education and Libraries Bill.
7. Briefing by Department of Education official on Clauses 15, 16, 17, 23, 32, 34 and 35 of the Education and Libraries Bill
The Chairman welcomed Mr Terry Smyth, Departmental official, to the meeting to provide a detailed briefing on Clauses 15, 16, 17, 23, 32, 34 and 35 of the Education and Libraries Bill and answer members' questions. Key issues discussed included the responsibility and liability of Boards of Governors and individual members in relation to duty of care, the reporting and disclosure of evidence in relation to child abuse or suspected child abuse, the role of Principals in preventing bullying, the composition of expulsion appeal tribunals and hearings in public or private, the provision of secondary education by Further Education Institutes, the abolition of corporal punishment and the bodies required to make reports and returns to the Department of Education.
Mr K Robinson, Mr A Maginness and Mrs E Bell declared interests as serving members of Boards of Governors during the session.
The Chairman thanked Mr Smyth and he left the meeting.
Hansard recorded the evidence for publication in due course.
The Committee agreed to write to the Department regarding a number of issues raised during the briefing on the Bill and to seek the views of the Assembly Legal Adviser.
8. Date and Time of Next Meeting
The next meeting of the Committee was scheduled for Thursday 26 September 2002 at 10.15 a.m. in Room 135, Parliament Buildings.
The Committee was adjourned at 12.30 p.m.