Minutes of Proceedings
Date: 01 February 2008
Venue: Room 135, Parliament Buildings
The Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.35am in public session.
There were no apologies.
2. Minutes of the Meeting of 25 January 2008
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 25 January 2008, with one amendment.
3. Matters Arising from the Minutes
(a) The Committee noted the contents of the Minister’s response to Holy Family Primary School.
(b) The Committee noted the response from the North Eastern Education and Library Board regarding correspondence from C & J Kelly.
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft response.
(c) The Committee noted the copy of the Minister’s Statement to the Committee on the transfer procedure at its meeting on 31 January 2008.
(d) The Committee noted the email from a number of Trade Unions regarding transfer to post-primary education.
(e) The Committee noted the letter to the Minister regarding the Department’s policies for area-based planning and sustainable schools.
(f) The Committee noted the response from the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools regarding the Pre-consultation on Post-primary Review in the Dioceses of Clogher and Kilmore.
(a) The Committee noted the correspondence from Mr B Haughan regarding a Statutory Assessment of his son.
Agreed – the Committee will forward the correspondence to the Department and to the South Eastern Education and Library Board for comment.
(b) The Committee noted the North Eastern Education and Library Board’s publication, ‘Education News’, January 2008.
(c) The Committee noted the correspondence from the Education and Skills Authority Implementation Team (ESAIT) advising of updates on the EASIT website.
5. Presentation by the Association of Northern Ireland Education and Library Boards (ANIELB)
Bill Reilly, President, WELB; Councillor Pat Brannigan, First Vice-President, SELB; and Reverend Selwoode Graham, Second Vice-President, NEELB, joined the meeting at 10.44am. The witnesses gave a presentation on the ANIELB’s concerns regarding RPA education reform, and outlined a number of alternative options to the proposed ESA.
Mr Storey left the meeting at 10.59am.
Mr Storey rejoined the meeting at 11.04am.
Rt Hon J Donaldson joined the meeting at 11.08am.
The witnesses answered questions on a number of issues, including: the option of sub-regional education bodies with one regional organisation; co-terminosity of education bodies with Local Council groupings and Health Trusts; potential for savings from the provision of a number of services on a regional basis; the need for increased resources for youth services, and whether the responsibility for youth services should be transferred to local councils; the removal of the Transferor’s nomination rights to Boards of Governors for controlled schools; sectoral support for the controlled schools sector; the current ‘recruitment freeze’ for the ELBs and the impact that further delay in the establishment of the ESA might have on the delivery of services by the ELBs.
Rt Hon J Donaldson left the meeting at 11.19.
Rt Hon J Donaldson rejoined the meeting at 11.23am.
Mr Bradley left the meeting at 11.40am.
Mr Bradley rejoined the meeting at 11.50am.
Mr Butler left the meeting at 12.25pm.
Mr Butler rejoined the meeting at 12.27pm.
Mr Storey left the meeting at 12.27pm.
Mr Storey rejoined the meeting at 12.28pm.
The witnesses agreed to provide a written response on the improvement and enhancement of youth services. The witnesses will also provide further information regarding their preferred option for the future structure of the education sector.
Agreed – the Committee will write to the ELBs to request information on current staffing levels and the impact of the recruitment freeze on the delivery of services.
The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 12.28pm.
Mrs Bradley left the meeting at 12.28pm.
6. Draft Work Programme
Agreed – the Committee approved the proposed Members’ groupings and topics for discussion at the informal session during its visit to St Mary’s College, Creggan.
7. Any Other Business
The Committee discussed the meeting with the Minister on 31 January 2008 regarding transfer to post-primary education. The Committee considered how it should proceed in its scrutiny role with regard to this issue. Concerns were expressed by a number of Members about the media coverage following the meeting and the working relationship between the Minister and the Committee.
Mrs Bradley rejoined the meeting at 12.36pm.
Rt Hon J Donaldson left the meeting at 12.40pm.
Mr Storey left the meeting at 1.01pm.
Mr Lunn left the meeting at 1.03pm.
Agreed – the Committee discussed and agreed to a proposal to write to the Speaker regarding its concerns about the Minister’s working relationship with the Committee. Mr Butler and Ms O’Neill recorded their objection to the proposal.
8. Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting will be held on Friday 8 February 2008 at 10.30am in St Mary’s College, Creggan.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.04pm.