Minutes of Proceedings
Date: 23 May 2008
Venue: Room 135, Parliament Buildings
The Deputy Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.10am in public session. He welcomed John O’Dowd to his first meeting of the Committee for Education and thanked Paul Butler for his work on the Committee.
Apologies are detailed above.
2. Minutes of the Meeting of 16 May 2008
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 16 May 2008.
3. Matters Arising
(a) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding the processes involved in schools transferring to integrated status.
Agreed – the Committee will ask the Department to confirm how many schools in each sector have transferred to integrated status since the introduction of this process. The Committee will also ask the Department to confirm the current position with regard to Parkhall College in Antrim.
(b) The Committee noted the response from the Southern Education and Library Board regarding the implementation of the NJC national agreement.
(a) The Committee noted the letter from Botanic Primary School regarding funding for the Reading Recovery literacy programme.
Agreed – the Committee will forward the correspondence to the Department for clarification on a number of points regarding Reading Recovery.
(b) The Committee noted the correspondence from WYG International.
(c) The Committee noted the correspondence from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) regarding school age childcare and funding for children and young people’s priorities.
Agreed – the Committee will raise issues from this paper with Departmental officials at its meeting on 30 May 2008.
(d) The Committee noted the correspondence from Autism NI.
Agreed – the Committee will forward the correspondence to the Department for comment, and will invite representatives from the Lisburn Branch to its Informal Reception on 26 June 2008. The Committee will also invite representatives of the Middletown Centre for Autism to give a presentation to the Committee at a later date.
(e) The Committee noted the correspondence from Ms K McAuley.
Agreed – the Committee will request a copy of the North Eastern Education and Library Board’s response to Ms McAuley.
(f) The Committee noted the correspondence from the Mourne Heritage Trust.
(g) The Committee noted the correspondence from the Council for Education in World Citizenship Northern Ireland regarding Model United Nations General Assemblies for senior pupils.
(h) The Committee noted the correspondence from Miss I McEvoy regarding transfer to post-primary education.
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft response.
(i) The Committee noted the correspondence from Dr R T William McCrea MP MLA regarding transfer to post-primary education.
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft response.
(j) The Committee noted the contents of the copy correspondence from the Transferor Representatives’ Council (TRC) to the Department of Education regarding the proposed first Education Bill.
Agreed – the Committee will ask the Department for a copy of its response to the TRC.
(k) The Committee noted the ‘Spotlight Report 2008, Spotlight on Older People in NI’ from Help the Aged.
(l) The Committee noted the correspondence from Groundwork NI regarding an event organised by six North Belfast Primary Schools to celebrate World Environment Day on 5 June 2008 in Belfast.
(m) The Committee noted four Departmental Press Releases: ‘Collaboration Between Schools and Colleges Brings Achievement – Ruane’; ‘Ruane Meets with Teaching Unions’; ‘Ruane Praises Cross-Border Collaboration on Special Educational Needs’; and ‘Ruane Thanks Schools Governors’.
5. Departmental Briefing on Special Educational Needs (SEN) and Inclusion Review
Dorothy Angus, Supporting and Safeguarding Children Division; Marleen Collins, Special Education Review Team; and Jan Matthews, Special Education Review Team, Department of Education, joined the meeting at 10.24am.
Mrs Bradley joined the meeting at 10.25am.
The officials gave a presentation on the context for and approach to the Review, and answered questions on a number of issues, including: the need for additional teacher training; the concept of ‘additional needs’; liaison with the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS); availability of necessary funding and the need for evaluation to ensure the effective use of resources; the importance of early intervention; and inconsistencies in prioritising in terms of SEN across Education and Library Board areas.
The officials agreed to provide a breakdown of the £170million funding for SEN.
Mr McCausland joined the meeting at 10.33am.
Mr McCausland left the meeting at 10.36am.
Mr McCausland rejoined the meeting at 10.42am.
Ms O’Neill left the meeting at 10.53am.
Ms O’Neill rejoined the meeting at 10.59am.
Mr McCrea joined the meeting at 11.03am.
The meeting moved to closed session at 11.07am.
The officials gave a presentation on the draft policy proposals following the SEN and Inclusion Review and answered questions on a number of issues, including: the availability of appropriate professional personnel, e.g. speech and language therapists and educational psychologists; the role of special educational needs coordinators working within and between schools; support and advice for schools; capacity building for schools and teachers; and legislative changes and the need for statutory obligations for both the Department of Education and the DHSSPS.
The Deputy Chairperson thanked the officials for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 11.58am.
6. Presentations by the Assembly Research & Library Service
The Committee’s Senior Researcher, Assembly Research & Library Service, joined the meeting at 12.05pm and outlined the key points from the Research Paper, ‘Finnish Education System’. The Senior Researcher answered questions on a number of issues, including: the role of education in the transformation from an agricultural economy to a modern economy; the PISA results and the lower level of variations between schools in Finland than in Northern Ireland; variations between municipalities in the performance of schools; and formal pre-school education.
Mrs Bradley left the meeting at 12.09pm.
Mr McCausland left the meeting at 12.24pm.
Mr McCausland rejoined the meeting at 12.29pm.
Mr Storey left the meeting at 12.35pm.
The Senior Researcher then outlined the key points from the Research Paper, ‘Partial Selection and Banding in Schools in England and Northern Ireland’, and answered questions on a number of issues, including: pupils successful in the transfer test and choice of attendance at certain schools; the anticipated increase in the use of banding by English schools; and how schools achieve mixed-ability intakes.
Agreed – a number of Research Papers produced for the Committee by the Assembly Research & Library Services will be published on the Assembly’s website.
The Deputy Chairperson thanked the Senior Researcher for an informative briefing which ended at 12.42pm.
7. Draft Committee Response to the Minister of Education on Transfer
The Committee considered the draft response to the Minister of Education on Transfer.
Mr McCausland left the meeting at 12.43pm.
Mr McCausland rejoined the meeting at 12.44pm.
Mr Storey rejoined the meeting at12.52pm.
Agreed – The Committee will discuss post-primary transfer at its meetings on 13 and 20 June 2008, and consider a response to the Minister following those discussions. To assist its consideration on this matter, the Committee will request written submissions from key education stakeholders on the Minister’s updated proposals on post-primary transfer presented to the Committee on 16 May 2008.
Mr McCausland declared an interest as a member of the Orange Order’s Education Committee.
Mr McCausland proposed the following motion:
That the Committee invites a submission from the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland’s Education Committee.
Mr Storey proposed the following amendment:
And any other organisation a member feels should be invited to provide a submission.
Question put as amended.
The Committee divided: Ayes 4; Noes 3.
Nelson McCausland, Basil McCrea, Michelle McIlveen, Mervyn Storey.
Dominic Bradley, John O’Dowd, Michelle O’Neill.
Question as amended accordingly agreed.
Agreed – the Clerk will seek legal advice on equality issues with regard to this additional organisation being included in the list of key education stakeholders.
8. Forward Work Programme
Agreed – the Committee will invite the North Belfast Principals’ Group for maintained schools to give a presentation to the Committee on funding and other issues at its meeting on 6 June 2008.
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft Work Programme, as amended, up to and including 26 June 2008.
9. Any Other Business
The Committee noted correspondence from Mrs E Courtney.
10. Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting will be held on Friday 30 May 2008 at 10.00am in Room 135, Parliament Buildings.
The Deputy Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.45pm.