MINUTES OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE ONE HUNDRED AND TENTH MEETING OF THE EDUCATION COMMITTEE IN ROOM 135, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS ON THURSDAY 26 SEPTEMBER 2002
Present: Mr D Kennedy (Chairman)
Mr S Wilson (Deputy Chairman)
Mrs E Bell
Mr O Gibson
Mr T Hamilton
Mr M McLaughlin
Mr K Robinson
Apologies: Mr A Maginness
Mr G McHugh
In Attendance: 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)
Ms Gillian Kane (Assembly Research Directorate for items 6 and 7)
The Committee met at 10.30 a.m. in public session.
1. Minutes of the Meeting of 19 September 2002
The minutes of the meeting of 19 September 2002 were agreed.
2. Matters Arising
(i) A copy of the revised Committee Work Programme was circulated at the meeting. Members noted the dates and, mindful of the need for a quorum for all meetings, agreed to notify the Clerk if they were unavailable to attend any of the meetings scheduled.
(ii) Copies of a letter from the Minister of Education regarding the arrangements for the publication of a report on the responses to the consultation document on the Review of Post-Primary Education were circulated at the meeting. The Committee agreed that arrangements should be made for the Minister of Education and officials to attend the meeting scheduled for 10 October 2002 to discuss the matter.
(iii) A copy of the proposed programme for the Committee visit to Rathgael House, Bangor on 3 October 2002 to discuss budgetary matters was circulated at the meeting. Members were content with the programme and agreed to contact the Clerk regarding arrangements for the meeting.
3. Chairman's Business
(i) The Chairman informed the Committee that an invitation had been received from the Headmaster of Foyle and Londonderry College to visit in connection with its proposals for a new school. Given the heavy workload members agreed that representatives of the College should be invited to attend an informal meeting with the Chairman and Deputy Chairman and any other members available to attend.
(ii) The Chairman advised members that arrangements had been made for himself and the Deputy Chairman and the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Health, Social Services and Public Safety Committee to meet with representatives of the Chest Heart and Stroke Association on 2 October 2002. He extended an invitation to all members to attend if available.
(iii) The Chairman informed the Committee that the Speedwell Trust, a cross community organisation that provided educational programmes, had written requesting an opportunity to make a presentation to the Committee on its work. Members agreed that arrangements should be made for an informal meeting with the Chairman and Deputy Chairman and any other members available to attend.
(iv) A copy of the literature relating to the Public Finance Seminar held by the Department of Finance and Personnel had been circulated. The Committee noted that the focus of the seminar was on the broad issues of Spending and Revenue comparison between Northern Ireland and England, the Barnett Formula and resource budgeting implications and agreed that an oral briefing was not necessary at this time.
(i) The Committee briefly discussed an up-date on the progress on achieving the actions and targets in the Programme for Government and the Public Service Agreement provided by the Minister of Education. Members noted that there would be an opportunity to clarify some of the issues during the budgetary discussions. It was agreed that an up-date on the progress on the targets in the Service Delivery Agreement should be requested and further consideration would be given to holding a meeting to discuss the draft Programme for Government after 3 October.
(ii) A copy of a memorandum from the Clerk to the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure regarding the Education and Libraries Bill had been circulated. Members noted that the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure was content with the provisions in the Bill relating to libraries and agreed that the memorandum should be included in the Committee Report.
5. Committee Business
The Committee considered correspondence from the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety inviting comments on the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults Bill. The Committee noted that the Bill appeared to address the broad issues previously highlighted in its submission on the matter but agreed to write to the Department of Education to seek clarification on a number of issues before responding.
Mrs E Bell joined the meeting at 10.50 a.m.
6. Briefing by Specialist Adviser on the draft Common Funding Scheme and the Department's response to the recommendations in the Committee Report
The Chairman welcomed Ms Penny McKeown to the meeting to brief the Committee on the draft Common Funding Scheme and the Department of Education's response to the recommendations in the Committee's Report on the matter. Ms McKeown highlighted that some modifications and variations had been made to the scheme however a number of substantive areas of concern raised by the Committee had not been addressed. Most of these the Department had indicated would be kept under review or further information was being sought.
A discussion took place during which the main issues covered included the TSN factors; equality concerns; the effects of CFF on the levels of funding for central services delivered by Education and Library Boards; the system of funding average teacher salary costs; the level of funding for Primary and Post-Primary Schools; and the length of the transition period.
The Committee agreed to write to the Minister of Education regarding a number of issues highlighted by Ms McKeown during the briefing.
The Chairman thanked Ms McKeown and she left the meeting.
The Chairman informed members that arrangements had been made for the Minister of Education and his officials to attend the meeting scheduled for Thursday 17 October 2002 to discuss the draft Common Funding Scheme and the Department's response to the Committee's Report.
The meeting was adjourned at 11.05 a.m.
The meeting was reconvened at 11.25 a.m.
7. Briefing by Department of Education Officials on Clauses 1 to 14, 27 to 29 and 36 of the Education and Libraries Bill.
The Chairman welcomed Mr Stephen Peover, Mr John Caldwell and Mr Eric McCloy, Departmental officials to the meeting to provide a detailed briefing on Clauses 1 to 14, Clauses 27 to 29 and Clause 36 of the Education and Libraries Bill and answer members' questions. Key issues discussed included the Common Funding Scheme and the requirement to consult; the enabling power being sought by the Department; the lack of any requirement for regulations; the conditions in relation to financial delegation and the effect of financial delegation; the funding and accounts of Boards; the duty of best value; the determination of travelling and subsistence allowances by the Boards; the appointment of Principals on teaching appointments committees from other Board areas; and the requirement for Boards to publish annual reports.
Mr K Robinson declared an interest as a serving member of a Board of Governors during the session.
The officials agreed to clarify the type of resolution referred to in Clauses 12 and 13. The Chairman thanked them and they left the meeting.
Mr T Hamilton joined the meeting at 12.35 p.m.
Mr K Robinson left the meeting at 12.36 p.m.
8. Date and Time of Next Meeting
The next meeting of the Committee was scheduled for Thursday 3 October 2002 at 10.30 a.m. in Rathgael House, Bangor.
The Committee was adjourned at 12.50 p.m.