Minutes of Proceedings
Date: 01 October 2008
Venue: Room 144, Parliament Buildings
The Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.00am in closed session.
There were no apologies.
2. Ministerial Update Briefing on Transfer to Post-Primary Education
The Minister of Education, Caitríona Ruane; Jackie McMullan, Special Advisor; Will Haire, Permanent Secretary; Dorothy Angus, Head of Supporting and Safeguarding Children; and Paul Price, Open Enrolment and Transfer Procedure Branch, Department of Education, joined the meeting at 10.00am. The Minister gave short opening statement and an update on important developments on her proposals of 15 May 2008 for transfer to post-primary education.
Mr Robinson joined the meeting at 10.08am.
Mr O’Dowd joined the meeting at 10.10am.
The Minister answered questions on a number of issues, including: contributing factors to underachievement; strategies to address underachievement; the need to avoid a ‘postcode lottery’; educational outcomes at primary school level, the Literacy and Numeracy strategy and Early Years policy; area-based planning; the Entitlement Framework and collaboration among school sectors and learning communities; the use of ‘breakaway’ admissions tests by primary and/or grammar schools; implications of an unregulated system of transfer; the status the test being developed by the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment; and the legal definition of grammar and secondary schools.
Mr McCrea left the meeting at 10.33am.
Ms O’Neill left the meeting at 11.05am.
Ms O’Neill rejoined the meeting at 11.07am.
The Minister agreed to provide the Committee with more information on a number of the issues discussed, and will address points made in relation to St Colman’s Primary School, Moira. The Minister will also provide the Committee with copies of some of her briefing papers for today’s meeting.
The Chairperson informed the Minister that the Committee had met informally with representatives from NIPSA and Education Welfare Officers (EWO) prior to the Committee meeting regarding the outstanding pay claim for EWOs, and that the Committee had previously written to the Department on this matter.
The Chairperson thanked the Minister for her attendance and the additional time given to discuss the issue of transfer to post-primary education with the Committee. The Minister and her officials left the meeting at 12.05pm.
3. Minutes of the Meeting of 24 September 2008
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 24 September 2008.
4. Matters Arising
(a) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding the use of Article 101 of the Education Order (NI) 1986.
Agreed – the Committee will write to the Department to express concern with some lengthy delays in responding to correspondence.
(b) The Committee noted the response from the North Eastern Education and Library Board (NEELB) regarding services to Education and Library Boards.
(c) The Committee noted the response from the Department of Employment and Learning regarding redundancy legislation and teachers’ redundancy payments.
(d) The Committee noted the Research and Library Services’ paper, ‘Definition of Vocational Education and Training.’
(e) The Committee considered the response from the Department clarifying the rationale for reducing the period of consultation on the proposed Special Educational Needs and Disability (General Qualifications Bodies) (Relevant Qualifications, Reasonable Steps and Physical Features)(Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2008.
Agreed – the Committee was content with the Department’s plans for an 8-week consultation period.
(a) The Committee noted the correspondence from Mr N Killen regarding transfer to post-primary education.
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft response. The Committee will also forward the correspondence to the Department for response to Mr Killen.
(b) The Committee noted the report from Queen’s University, Belfast, ‘Research Project: Education and a Shared Future: Options for Sharing and Collaboration in Northern Ireland Schools.’
(c) The Committee noted the correspondence regarding the Contact Youth/Lifeline event to be held on 6 October 2008 in Parliament Buildings.
(d) The Committee noted four Departmental press releases: ‘Irish Language Pupils are Aiming for the Future – Ruane’; ‘Ruane meets South Down Post-Primary Principals’; ‘Participation in Full-Time Education and Vocational Training by 16 and 17 Year Olds in Northern Ireland 2007/08’; and ‘Sport can Benefit our Young People.’
6. Forward Work Programme
Agreed – the Committee approved the proposed items of business for the planned Committee meeting and visit to Ballymena on 5 November 2008.
Agreed – the Committee approved the revised draft Forward Work Programme.
7. Any Other Business
The Chairperson reminded Members to forward outstanding Party papers on the Sustainable Schools policy to the Clerk by 3 October 2008.
8. Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 8 October 2008 at 10.00am in Room 144, Parliament Buildings.
The Deputy Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.15pm