Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 29 February 2008

Venue: Room 135, Parliament Buildings

The Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.39am in public session.

1.   Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2.   Minutes of the Meeting of 22 February 2008

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 22 February 2008.

3.   Matters Arising from the Minutes

Mr Robinson joined the meeting at 10.43am.

The Committee noted the letter from the Association of Northern Ireland Education and Library Boards.

The Committee noted the reply from the Department regarding the transfer of redundancy entitlement.

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft response.

The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding the Curriculum Sports Programme.

Agreed – the Committee will forward a copy of the response to Creggan Primary School.

The Committee noted the contents of the letter from Roe Valley Learning Community.

The Committee noted the response from the Western Education and Library Board regarding the Pre-consultation on Controlled/Voluntary Post-Primary Education in Fermanagh.

Agreed – the Committee will forward a copy of the response to Miss K Doherty.

The Committee noted the response from the Minister to its letter of 14 January 2008.

Agreed – the Committee will write to the Minister regarding her assertion at the Committee’s meeting of 31 January 2008 that she would engage with the Committee in February in advance of making a Statement to the House on an area-based planning policy.

The Committee noted its press release, ‘Committee Regrets School Accident’, issued on 27 February 2008.

The Committee noted the contents of the response from the Speaker to its letter expressing concern at the working relationship with the Minister of Education.

4.   Correspondence

The Chairperson reminded Members to notify the Clerk of any points of action arising from the Informal Committee Reception held on 18 February 2008 in Parliament Buildings.

The Committee noted the correspondence from a classroom assistant regarding the implementation of the job evaluation.

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft letter to the Education and Library Boards (ELBs), with one amendment.

The Committee noted the letter from M Eakins regarding the ICAN Facility, Ballynahinch.

Agreed – the Committee will forward the letter to the South Eastern Education and Library Board for comment.

The Committee noted the correspondence from C Doyle.

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft response.

The Committee noted the correspondence Mr Murie, Information and Policy Officer, Citizens Advice.

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft response.

The Committee noted the correspondence B Hagan regarding Alta Maths for Schools.

Agreed – the Committee will forward the correspondence to the Department for comment.

The Committee noted the Department’s response to the Committee for the Environment regarding Road Safety.

Agreed – the Committee will forward the correspondence to the Committee for the Environment.

The Committee noted the correspondence from the Participation Network.

The Committee noted the invitation to the launch of the Committee on Climate Change in Belfast on 18 March 2008.

The Committee noted the contents of the correspondence regarding classroom assistants from A Nicholson.

The Committee noted the correspondence from Mr C Kelly regarding the NIRAN Network and awareness day on 18 April 2008.

The Committee noted the correspondence from the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment regarding the draft Better Regulation Annual Report 2006/07.

The Committee noted the correspondence regarding the Sesame Tree event to be held in the Private Dining Room on 11 March 2008.

The Committee noted the correspondence from D & K Cormack regarding the delay in receiving a response to correspondence from the Minister of Education.

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft letter to the Department.

The Committee noted the Southern Education and Library Board’s Annual Report and Accounts 2006/07.

The Committee noted three Departmental press releases: ‘Publication of Statistical Press Release’; ‘School Building Schemes Will Proceed – Ruane’; and ‘Ruane Expresses Condolences Following Tragic Accident.’

5.   Departmental Briefing on the Outcome of the Consultation on the Common Funding Formula

Will Haire, Permanent Secretary; and Roisin Lilley and Ken Reid, Schools Finance Branch, Department of Education, joined the meeting at 10.55am. The officials gave a presentation on the outcome of the Consultation on the Common Funding Formula and the Department’s commitment to increase funding to primary schools.

Mr Storey left the meeting at 10.57am. 
Miss McIlveen left the meeting at 10.59am. 
Mr Storey rejoined the meeting at 11.00am.

The officials answered questions on a number of issues, including: funding for the implementation of the Revised Curriculum; the difference in funding for primary and post-primary schools; the Age Weighted Pupil Unit (AWPU) and the effect of demographics on the distribution of funding within the Common Funding Formula (CFF); the need to ensure that funding via the CFF does not discourage collaboration and sharing between schools; and the level of budgetary flexibility for School Principals.

Mr Storey left the meeting at 11.22am.

The Chairperson thanked the officials for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 11.35am.

Mr Bradley left the meeting at 11.35am. 
The meeting was suspended at 11.35am. 
Mr Storey rejoined the meeting at 11.36am.

The meeting resumed at 11.36am.

6.   Subordinate Legislation

Katrina Godfrey, Head of Raising Standards; and Paul Murray, Qualifications & ICT Team, Department of Education, joined the meeting at 11.36am. The officials outlined the rationale for the two proposed Statutory Rules: The Special Educational Needs and Disability (General Qualifications Bodies) (Relevant Qualifications, Reasonable Steps and Physical Features) Regulations (NI) 2008; and The Special Educational Needs and Disability (2005 Order) (Amendment) (General Qualifications Bodies) (Alteration of Premises and Enforcement) Regulations (NI) 2008. Officials answered questions on a number of issues, including: financial implications for schools and the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment; the decision not to undertake a Regulatory Impact Assessment; and representation for Northern Ireland within the three-country qualifications system with England and Wales.

Ms O’Neill joined the meeting at 11.40am.

Agreed – the Committee had no objection to the proposals.

7.   Forward Work Programme

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft Work Programme up to and including 11 April 2008.

8.   Presentation by the Buddy Bear Trust

Brendan McConville, Chairman; Ildiko Veres, Principal; and Mary Murphy and Kathleen Donaghy, Parent Representatives, Buddy Bear Trust, joined the meeting at 11.46am. The witnesses gave a presentation on the work of the Buddy Bear School and the need for recognition of and funding for the School.

Mr Bradley rejoined the meeting at 12.02pm.

The witnesses answered questions on a number of issues, including: the impact of increased publicity on the Trust’s fundraising activities; the importance of early intervention; funding for similar organisations in England and Wales; and the possibility of early intervention funding from other Departments such as the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety.

The Chairman of the Buddy Bear Trust presented a painting to the Committee. Members agreed for photographs to be taken with the witnesses.

The meeting was suspended at 12.25pm. 
The meeting resumed at 12.31pm. 
Mr Butler left the meeting at 12.31pm. 
Mr McCrea left the meeting at 12.31pm.

Agreed – the Committee will write to the ELBs and the Department regarding the position on funding for the Buddy Bear School.

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses and they left the meeting at 12.31pm.

9.   Discussion on the Committee’s Interim Response to the Department’s Consultation, ‘Every School a Good School’

Mr Butler rejoined the meeting at 12.34pm.

The Committee discussed a number of issues with regard to the Department’s policy proposals, ‘Every School a Good School’, including: the apparent increase in focus on punitive measures; the importance of community involvement; the need for good leadership in schools; increasing responsibilities for school Boards of Governors; the increase in emphasis on ‘value added’; the appropriateness of a blanket approach to school improvement; and the need to target resources and support accurately.

Mr McCrea rejoined the meeting at 12.41pm.

Agreed – based on the discussion, the Clerk will draft an interim response to the Consultation for consideration by the Committee at its meeting on 7 March 2008.

10. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Friday 7 March 2008 at 10.30am in closed session in the Private Dining Room, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.17pm.

Mr Sammy Wilson
Chairperson, Committee for Education
7 March 2008

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