Minutes of Proceedings
Date: 28 September 2007
Venue: Room 135, Parliament Buildings
The meeting opened at 10.36am in public session.
One apology was received as above.
2. Minutes of the Meeting of 21 September 2007
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 21 September 2007.
3. Matters Arising from the Minutes
(A) Agreed – the Committee approved the draft letter to the Minister regarding the Club Bank arrangement.
(B) The Committee noted the note of the informal presentation by a delegation of School Principals on Tuesday 25 September 2007.
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft letter to the Minister.
(C) The Committee noted the letter on behalf of the Interim Board of Governors for Blackwater Integrated College.
Agreed – the Committee will invite representatives from the College to give an informal presentation.
(D) The Committee noted the note of the informal presentation by the Youth Council for Northern Ireland (YCNI) on Tuesday 25 September 2007.
Agreed – the Committee will consider inviting YCNI to give evidence during its scrutiny of the forthcoming Education Reform Bill.
(E) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding the intake levels for three new Irish-Medium schools, and the Terms of Reference for the Review of Irish-Medium Education.
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft letter to the Department.
Mr Robinson joined the meeting at 10.45am.
(A) The Committee noted the letter of 17 September 2007 from the Principal of Towerview Primary School.
Agreed – the Committee agreed to a request in the letter.
(B) The Committee noted the invitation from ACET Learning for Life to their event, ‘Creating an Educational and Employability Pathway for Young People with a Learning Disability (aged 16 – 25 years) in the Belfast Area’, on Friday 5 October 2007.
(C) The Committee noted the contents of the letter from the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action. The Chairperson advised that this matter had been dealt with by the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group.
(D) The Committee noted the letter from a Classroom Assistant regarding the ongoing Classroom Assistants’ Dispute.
(E) The Committee noted the Department’s response to Down District Council regarding reinstatement of the South Eastern Education and Library Board.
(F) The Committee noted the contents of letters from the Principals of Omagh High School and Sacred Heart College, Omagh, regarding Lisanelly Barracks.
Agreed – the Committee will forward the correspondence to the Department for comment.
(G) The Committee noted correspondence from Mr B Haughan.
5. Departmental Briefing on the Education and Skills Authority (ESA)
Gavin Boyd, Chief Executive (Designate); Dr Mark Browne and Jacqui McLaughlin, Implementation Team, ESA, joined the meeting at 10.50am. The officials gave a presentation on the Convergence Programme and preparation work for the ESA. The officials answered questions on a number of issues, including: the accountability of the ESA; communication and consultation with key stakeholders; estimated savings and ESA costs; the size and structure of the new organisation; management of an effective vacancy control policy; difficulties in integrating the number of systems currently used by employers into one arrangement (i.e. finance, payroll, Human Resources); and children services and differing sub-regional needs.
Agreed: Officials will return to brief and update the Committee at a later date in this session of the Assembly. The Committee will also consider alternative formats for a future session(s).
The Chairperson thanked the officials for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 11.40am.
6. Departmental Briefing on the Review of Public Administration (RPA)
Dr Eddie Rooney, Deputy Secretary; Chris Stewart, Head of RPA Division; and Joan Cassells, RPA, Department of Education, joined the meeting at 11.41am. The officials gave a number of short presentations on policy papers on Data Issues, Contingency Planning, the role of the Director of Children’s Services and Sectoral Support post-RPA. The officials answered questions on a number of issues, including: the quantity, relevance and use of data collected; the need to ensure contingency plans are up-to-date and are regularly tested; child protection and early intervention; the role and extent of the Director of Children’s Services responsibilities; co-ordination with other organisations with regard to children’s services and child protection, e.g. DHSSPS, PSNI and DSD; and the role of sectoral bodies and the basis for provision of grant-aid funding.
The Chairperson thanked the officials for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 12.37pm.
Miss McIlveen left the meeting at 12.15pm.
7. Draft Work Programme
The Committee agreed the draft work programme for the next two Committee meetings.
8. Presentation on the Classroom Assistants’ Dispute by NIPSA
Brian Campfield, Deputy General Secretary; Alison Millar, Assistant Secretary; and Janette Murdock, General Council Member & Classroom Assistant, NIPSA, joined the meeting at 12.39pm. Key areas discussed included: the issue of the 36-hour divisor; NVQ qualifications; the removal of the special needs allowance; and the revised offer from Management Side including review process, and ongoing negotiations to resolve the dispute.
The Chairperson reiterated the Committee’s support to the Classroom Assistants and hopes for an early settlement. He thanked the witnesses and they left the meeting at 1.30pm.
Rt Hon J Donaldson joined the meeting at 12.51pm.
9. Departmental Update on the Classroom Assistants’ Dispute
David Woods, Head of Strategy, Performance and Accountability Division; and Mervyn Gregg, Head of Accountability & Governance Team, Department of Education, joined the meeting at 1.31pm. The officials outlined the Department’s role and remit in relation to the dispute. Officials clarified the issues within the job evaluation process, and informed the Committee of the Minister’s announcement that the Department will undertake a review of the education workforce in schools.
The Chairperson thanked the officials for their attendance and they left the meeting at 1.52pm.
Rt Hon J Donaldson left the meeting at 1.44pm.
Mr Lunn left the meeting at 1.45pm.
Mr Butler left the meeting at 1.50pm.
10. Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting will be held on Friday 5 October 2007 at 10.30am in Room 135, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.53pm.