Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 04 April 2008

Venue: Room 135, Parliament Buildings

The Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.30am in public session.

1.    Apologies

There was one apology as detailed above.

2.    Minutes of the Meeting of 14 March 2008

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 14 March 2008.

3.    Matters Arising from the Minutes

(a) The Committee noted the Department’s invitation to the Autistic Spectrum Disorders Conference, ‘Education through the Spectrum’, to be held in Dublin on 15 April 2008. 
Agreed – Members who wish to attend will notify the Clerk.

(b) The Committee noted the copy of the letter from the Southern Education and Library Board to the Department regarding the Teachers’ Premature Retirement Scheme. 
Agreed – the Committee will ask for an urgent response to its letter to the Minister on this matter.

(c) The Committee noted the response from the Western Education and Library Board on the Pre-consultation on the Future of Controlled/Voluntary Post-Primary Education in Fermanagh.

(d) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding Ballymoney Primary School. 
Agreed – the Committee will forward a copy of the response to Ballymoney Primary School.

(e) The Committee noted the response from the Department to issues raised by the East Belfast Primary & Nursery Principals’ Group in its submission to the Committee. 
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft response.

(f) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding the discovery of confidential pupils’ records.

(g) The Committee noted further correspondence from Mr O’Shea, Secretary of St Comgall’s College Support Group. 
Agreed – the Committee will forward the letter to the Department for comment on the specific questions raised.

(h) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding the Interface School Support Programme. 
Agreed – the Committee will forward a copy of the correspondence to Currie Primary School. The Committee will also invite the North Belfast and the Shankill Principals’ Groups to give a presentation to the Committee at a later date.

(i) The Committee noted the Youth Council for Northern Ireland’s paper, ‘Proposal for a Youth Work Directorate.’

(j) The Committee noted the letter from the Minister’s office regarding transfer to post-primary education.

(k) The Committee noted the letters from the South Eastern and North Eastern Education and Library Boards regarding the Buddy Bear Trust.

(l) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding Alta Maths for Schools. 
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft letter to Alta Systems.

(m) The Committee noted two items of correspondence regarding the NJC pay award for non-teaching staff. 
Agreed – the Committee will raise this issue with Departmental officials prior to the briefing on Literacy and Numeracy.

Mr Mc Causland joined the meeting at 10.34am.
Mrs Bradley joined the meeting at 10.34am. 
Mr McCrea left the meeting at 10.35am. 
Mr Butler joined the meeting at 10.36am. 
Ms O’Neill joined the meeting at 10.36am. 
Mr Robinson joined the meeting at 10.37am. 
Mr McCrea rejoined the meeting at 10.40am.

4.    Correspondence

(a) The Committee noted the correspondence regarding Maghera High School. 
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft letter to the North Eastern Education and Library Board (NEELB), with one amendment.

(b) The Committee noted the letter form C Thompson. 
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft response.

(c) The Committee noted the correspondence from Business in the Community NI. 
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft response.

(d) The Committee noted the correspondence from the Chairperson of the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure to the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment.

(e) The Committee noted the response from the NEELB to correspondence from C & J Kelly. 
Agreed – the Committee will forward a copy of the response to C & J Kelly.

(f) The Committee noted the correspondence from the Ulster Bank regarding a new financial education programme, MoneySense for Schools.

(g) The Committee noted the correspondence from TheColorOrange.net.

(h) The Committee noted the correspondence from the Department regarding a Statutory Assessment of J Haughan.

(i) The Committee noted the letter from the Department regarding the approval of the capital scheme for Priory Integrated College, Holywood, and the associated Departmental press release.

(j) The Committee noted the correspondence from Dore. 
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft response.

(k) The Committee noted the correspondence to the Minister of Education from the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment regarding the Department’s Regional Innovation Strategy Draft Action Plan Submission. 
Agreed – the Committee will forward the correspondence to the Department.

(l) The Committee noted the correspondence regarding the implementation of the classroom assistants’ job evaluation. 
Agreed – the Committee will seek clarification on a number of points from the Southern Education and Library Board.

(m) The Committee noted the correspondence on the Draft Public Authorities (Reform) Bill from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

(n) The Committee noted the correspondence from Ms N Murray regarding training places for teachers of the deaf. 
Agreed – the Committee will forward to the Department for comment. The Committee also approved the draft response to Ms Murray.

(o) The Committee noted Advice NI’s publication, ‘Advice Matters Winter 07/08’.

(p) The Committee noted the NI Association for Mental Health’s Briefing Statement March 2008, ‘Suicide Prevention and Flourishing Mental Health.’

(q) The Committee noted correspondence from the Participation Network Engaging/Empowering.

(r) The Committee noted the correspondence from Ms L Allen regarding the Beechlawn Reading Unit, Hillsborough. 
Agreed – the Committee will forward the correspondence to the South Eastern Education and Library Board (SEELB) for comment on the points raised.

(s) The Committee noted the correspondence from Special Provision for the Education of Autistic Children (SPEAC) regarding the three-year pilot scheme. 
Agreed – the Committee will ask the SEELB to clarify the position with regard to SPEAC as a matter of urgency. The Committee will also ask the Education and Training Inspectorate to clarify the timing/position on its forthcoming report on the pilot scheme.

(t) The Committee noted the correspondence from the Little Flower Girls’ School regarding funding for BTEC and NVQ Level 2 courses. 
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft letter to the Department.

(u) The Committee noted copy correspondence from Mrs E Courtney. 
Agreed – the Committee will ask the Department for a copy of its response to Mrs Courtney and for comment on the general/policy particular points raised.

(v) The Committee noted the invitation to the Royal National Institute for the Blind’s seminar, ‘Alternative Formats in Education’ to be held on 18 April 2008 in Belfast.

(w) The Committee noted the request from the Rudolf Steiner School to meet with the Chairperson of the Committee. 
Mr Storey declared an interest . 
Agreed – the Committee will consider this when the Department has responded to its previous correspondence regarding the Rudolf Steiner School.

(x) The Committee noted the correspondence from Bumblebees Nursery.
Agreed – the Committee will ask the Department for comment on the issues raised. The Committee will also forward the correspondence to the Committee for Employment and Learning.

(y) The Committee noted the documents regarding child protection. 
Agreed – the Committee agreed the draft letter to the Department on this matter.

(z) The Committee noted the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools’ Annual Report and Accounts for the Year Ended 31 March 2007.

(aa)The Committee noted the Youth Council for Northern Ireland’s Management Commentary and Financial Statements to 31 March 2007.

(bb) The Committee noted the correspondence from the Buddy Bear Trust.

(cc) The Committee noted four Departmental press releases: ‘Education Minister Criticises Plans for Breakaway Selection Test’; ‘Department of Education’s Response to Bishop Hegarty’s Statement on Lumen Christi Entrance Exam’; ‘Youth Volunteers Help Community and Themselves – Ruane’; and ‘Ruane Approves New Nursery Units’.

5.    Presentation by the Voluntary Youth Sector (Uniformed Organisations)

Dr Wilfred Mulryne OBE, Chief Commissioner, The Scout Association, NI Scout Council; Professor Norman Nevin OBE, President, Boys Brigade NI; Morva Brown, President, Girls’ Brigade NI; and Lizzie Hogg, Deputy Chief Commissioner, Girlguiding Ulster, joined the meeting at 11.01am. The witnesses gave a presentation on organisational structure and their role in the provision of youth services. The witnesses answered questions on a number of issues, including: funding for regional headquarters and local units; disparity in both the services and financial support provided across the five Education and Library Boards; the need for a regional strategy for youth services; the need to enhance publicity for the work of the uniformed youth sector; the relationship between education and youth services; and whether the responsibility for youth services should remain with education or be transferred to local councils.

Mrs Bradley left the meeting at 11.31am. 
Mr Storey left the meeting at 11.31am.

The witnesses agreed to write to the Committee with additional financial information and proposals for a regional body/authority responsible for a regional youth service strategy.

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses and they left the meeting at 11.49am.

Mr McCrea left the meeting at 11.49am.

6.    Departmental Briefing on Literacy and Numeracy

Dr Robson Davison, Deputy Secretary; Katrina Godfrey, Head of Raising Standards; John Caldwell, School Improvement Branch; and Liz Angus, Education and Training Inspector, Department of Education, joined the meeting at 11.50am.

Prior to the briefing on Literacy and Numeracy, the officials provided the Committee with an update on the position with regard to the pay award for non-teaching school staff from April 2007.

Mr McCrea rejoined the meeting at 11.52am.

The officials gave a presentation on the Department’s draft document, ‘Every School a Good School – A Strategy for Raising Achievement in Literacy and Numeracy’, after which they answered questions on a number of issues, including: whether the focus on improving literacy and numeracy should be at primary or post-primary level; the timescale for completion of the consultation process; the link with further education; the impact of social factors outside the school environment; and the need to ensure schools are adequately resourced to deliver improvements.

Some members expressed concern at the references to academic selection throughout the draft Strategy.

The Chairperson thanked the officials and they left the meeting at 12.55pm.

7.    Forward Work Programme

The Committee agreed its work programme up to and including 25 April 2008.

8.    Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Friday 11 April 2008 at 10.30am in Room 135, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.57pm.

Mr Sammy Wilson
Chairperson, Committee for Education
11 April 2008

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