Minutes of Proceedings
Date: 14 March 2008
Venue: Room 135, Parliament Buildings
The Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.39am in public session.
Apologies are detailed above.
2. Minutes of the Meeting of 7 March 2008
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 7 March 2008.
3. Matters Arising from the Minutes
(A) The Committee noted the Minister’s response to the Committee for Social Development regarding the Charities Bill.
(B) The Committee noted the Department’s response regarding the Education Project at An Munia Tober. The Committee also noted the letter from Ms L Brennan, Education Co-ordinator of An Munia Tober.
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft response to Ms Brennan.
(C) The Committee noted the response from the South Eastern Education and Library Board regarding the ICAN Facility in Ballynahinch.
(D) The Committee noted the Minister’s response to the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister regarding its Inquiry into Child Poverty.
(E) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding the education of children from the Traveller Community.
Agreed – the Committee will forward the response to the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People.
(F) The Committee noted the responses from the Department regarding teachers’ pensions added years.
Agreed – the Committee will write to the Minister of Education and raise a number of concerns about this matter.
(G) The Committee noted the response from the Department and the Southern Education and Library Board regarding the discovery of confidential pupil records.
Mr Robinson joined the meeting at 10.48am.
The Chairperson asked Members to notify the Clerk of any amendments or additions to the draft letters arising from the Informal Committee Reception held on 18 February 2008 by Thursday 20 March 2008.
(A) The Committee noted correspondence from Ms A Nicholson regarding the classroom assistants’ dispute.
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft response.
(B) The Committee noted the correspondence from Mr McGuinness, Principal, Limavady Grammar School, regarding the Education Task Force.
Agreed – the Committee will invite Mr McGuiness and colleagues to give a presentation on the findings of the Education Task Force at a later date.
(C) The Committee noted the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland’s March 2008 e-newsletter, ‘Equality Focus for MLAs.’
(D) The Committee noted the invitation from the Teaching and Learning Research Programme’s (TLRP) conference, ‘Education Research Matters – TLRP in Northern Ireland’ on 10 April 2008 in Belfast.
(E) The Committee noted letters from Rev. M E Donald, First Garvagh Presbyterian Church and Rev. Ivan Hunter, Presbytery Clerk of Coleraine, regarding Equality Screening of the Department’s RPA proposals for School Boards of Governors
Agreed – the Committee will write to the Minister regarding the decision not to undertake a Equality Impact Assessment on this proposal, to reiterate the Committee’s concerns with this aspect of the proposed legislation and request a draft of the new revised arrangements.
(F) 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.
(G) The Committee noted the correspondence from Mr A O’Shea, Secretary to the St Comgall’s College Support Group, regarding the Council for Catholic Maintained School’s consultation proposals for post-primary education in the East Antrim area.
Agreed – the Committee will write to the Minister to ask that a moratorium is put on this consultation proposal and other such consultations until the post-primary area-based planning process announced in the Assembly on 4 March 2008 is fully operational.
(H) The Committee noted the correspondence from Ms Y Naylor regarding a training course, ‘Introduction to Personal Development and Mutual Understanding’.
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft response, with one addition.
(I) The Committee noted the contents of the correspondence from Ms J Stewart.
Agreed – the Committee will forward the correspondence to the Department for comment.
(J) The Committee noted copy correspondence from the Buddy Bear Trust.
Agreed – the Committee will write to the Buddy Bear Trust to determine if consideration has been given to using and sharing its expertise with other special schools throughout Northern Ireland. The Committee will also write to Department on this matter.
(K) The Committee noted the copy of a letter from The Thompson Primary School to the Minister regarding her proposals for transfer to post-primary education.
(L) The Committee noted the press article ‘School cleaners win landmark wages battle’ from the Irish News on 12 March 2008.
(M) The Committee noted the press article ‘Hundreds of exam results upgraded’ from the BBC on 14 March 2008 and the Report on the Summer 2007 GCSE and A level examinations series ‘Enquiries about results and appeals’.
Agreed – the Committee will invite officials from the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment to discuss this issue at one of its meetings in April 2008.
(N) The Committee noted the invitation to the address by the President of Burundi in the Senate Chamber on 3 April 2008.
(O) The Committee noted four Departmental press releases: ‘Ruane Unveils New Approach to School Building Projects’; ‘Churches Will Have an Important Role in Area Planning Groups – Ruane’; ‘Education Minister Welcomes Experts on Autism to Stormont’; and ‘Personal Records Must Be Secured – Ruane’.
Mr Butler joined the meeting at 11.18am.
5. Subordinate Legislation
(A) The Committee considered The Special Educational Needs and Disability (General Qualifications Bodies) (Relevant Qualifications, Reasonable Steps and Physical Features) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2008.
Question put and agreed:
That the Committee for Education has considered the Special Educational Needs and Disability (General Qualifications Bodies) (Relevant Qualifications, Reasonable Steps and Physical Features) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2008 and has no objection to the rule.
(B) The Committee considered The Special Educational Needs and Disability (2005 Order) (Amendment) (General Qualifications Bodies) (Alteration of Premises and Enforcement) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2008.
Question put and agreed:
That the Committee for Education has considered the Special Educational Needs and Disability (2005 Order) (Amendment) (General Qualifications Bodies) (Alteration of Premises and Enforcement) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2008 and recommends that it be approved by the Assembly.
(C) The Committee noted The Teachers’ Pensions (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2008.
6. Transfer to Post-Primary Education
John McGrath, Deputy Secretary; and Catherine Daly, Director of Finance, Department of Education, joined the meeting at 11.30am. The officials gave a presentation outlining the budget position and allocations for 2008 – 11, and answered questions on a number of issues, including: the gap between funding of primary and post-primary schools; funding for youth services; the need to increase the percentage of the education budget delegated to schools; estimated efficiency savings from the establishment of the Education and Skills Authority; the need to reduce the level of underspend in both the resource and capital budgets; the absence of costings for the Minister’s transfer proposals; and funding for the implementation of a number of strategies, e.g. Literacy and Numeracy and the recommendations from the Review of Special Educational Needs.
Mr Butler left the meeting at 11.48am.
Mr Storey left the meeting at 12.27pm.
Mr Storey rejoined the meeting at 12.29pm.
The officials agreed to provide the Committee with further information – such as some detailed breakdown of allocations for the three-year budget period.
The Chairperson thanked the officials for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 12.31pm.
7. Forward Work Programme
The Committee agreed its work programme up to and including 25 April 2008.
Agreed – the Committee will host an informal lunchtime meeting with representatives from the Westminster All-Party Group on Integrated Education in Parliament Buildings on 16 May 2008.
8. Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting will be held on Friday 4 April 2008 at 10.30am in Room 135, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.39pm.
Mr Sammy Wilson
Chairperson, Committee for Education
4 April 2008