Minutes of Proceedings
Date: 08 October 2008
Venue: Room 144, Parliament Buildings
The Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.08am in public session.
Apologies are detailed above.
2. Minutes of the Meeting of 1 October 2008
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 1 October 2008.
Mr Robinson joined the meeting at 10.10am.
3. Matters Arising
(a) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding a Youth Centre project in the Markets Area of Belfast.
Agreed – the Committee will forward the response to Councillor Pat McCarthy.
(b) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding Rascals Playstation Childcare Centre.
(c) The Committee noted the copy response from the Minister to Ms J Todorov regarding detailed arrangements for transfer to post-primary education.
Agreed – the Committee will ask the Minister why the Executive is not meeting to resolve the issue.
(d) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding pre-school provision.
(e) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding school vetting procedures.
Agreed – the Committee will forward a copy of the response to Mr P Moules.
(f) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding the pay review for Education and Welfare Officers (EWO).
Agreed – the Committee will forward a copy of the response to both Ms P Gormley and Mr J McKeegan, NIPSA EWO representative.
(g) The Committee noted the response from the Governing Bodies Association regarding suspension of pupils from Voluntary Grammar Schools.
(h) The Committee noted the invitation for Members to visit Ballybeen Women’s Centre on Tuesday 14 October 2008 between 10.30am and 12noon.
Agreed – Members wishing to visit the Centre should notify the Clerk.
(a) The Committee noted the correspondence from the Committee for Employment & Learning, proposing a joint presentation from the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) on the importance of STEM subjects to the Committees for Education, Employment & Learning and Enterprise, Trade & Investment and relevant key stakeholders. The Committee also noted the Official Report of the Committee for Employment & Learning’s evidence session with IET on STEM subjects.
Agreed – the Committee agreed to join with other Committees and key stakeholders to receive a presentation from IET.
(b) The Committee noted correspondence regarding a training course on ‘Issues of British Muslims and Islam.’
(c) The Committee noted the request to the Minister of Education for Department of Education officials to brief the Committee for Employment and Learning on their work setting the annual number of teacher training places available.
Agreed – the Committee will forward the correspondence to the Minister.
(d) The Committee noted the correspondence, ‘Save the NI Anti-Poverty Network Campaign’ from the NI Anti-Poverty Network.
(e) The Committee noted The Participation Network’s Autumn 08 Newsletter.
(f) The Committee noted the correspondence from the Department on the Revised Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting arrangements.
(g) The Committee noted four Departmental press releases: ‘Minister Announces Education and Library Board Appointment’; ‘Ruane Continues Consultation Process with Principals’; ‘Ruane Welcomes United Nations Call to End Academic Selection’; and ‘Traveller Children’s Education Needs Must Be Met – Ruane.’
5. Presentation by the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) on the Development Proposal Process
Gerry Lundy, Head of School Planning and Development; Paul O’Doherty, Policy and Planning Officer; and Sean Rafferty, Entitled to Succeed (E2S) Officer, CCMS, joined the meeting at 10.13am.
Mr Poots left the meeting at 10.16am.
The witnesses gave a presentation on the role of CCMS in the Development Proposal process and answered questions on a number of issues, including: maintenance of school ethos; important gaps in Economic Appraisals and weightings applied to factors currently included; transport issues; the potential for and limitations of federations of schools; models of joint faith schools; and Learning Communities, cross-sectoral collaboration and the development of shared facilities to ensure excellent educational provision.
Mr Bradley joined the meeting at 10.21am.
The witnesses agreed to provide the Committee with more information on a number of points, including: gaps in and weightings applied to factors included in Economic Appraisals; and the potential for Learning Communities and school federations.
Mr McCausland left the meeting at 11.26am.
Mr McCausland rejoined the meeting at 11.27am.
The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 11.28am.
The Committee noted additional correspondence from St Comgall’s College Support Group.
Agreed – the Committee will forward a copy of the submission from CCMS to St Comgall’s College Support Group.
6. Presentation by Middletown Centre for Autism
Gary Cooper, Chief Executive Officer; Lorraine Scott, Head of Learning Support and Assessment; Fiona McCaffrey, Head of Research and Development; and Jim Lennon, Head of Corporate Services, Middletown Centre for Autism, joined the meeting at 11.29am. The witnesses gave a presentation on progress and plans for the Centre, and answered questions on a number of issues, including: concerns about funding for and the location of the Centre; the interface between education and health; the consultation on the Middletown Centre and engagement with the voluntary sector; the potential number of pupils requiring assistance, equality of access and the potential for a ‘postcode lottery’; roles and responsibilities within the referral system; funding for children attending the centre; the role of the Centre in teacher training; the need for residential intervention and concern about the disruptive impact this may have on pupils; an autism strategy for NI; and consideration given to experiences of similar centres, e.g. in England and Scotland.
The Chairperson left the meeting at 12.24pm.
The Deputy Chairperson took the Chair at 12.24pm.
The Chairperson rejoined the meeting and retook the Chair at 12.27pm.
Mr Bradley left the meeting at 12.34pm.
Mr Bradley rejoined the meeting at 12.41pm.
The witnesses agreed to write to the Committee on a number of issues raised during the discussion.
The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 12.50pm.
7. Any Other Business
Agreed – the Committee will invite representatives from the Belfast Education and Library Board to give a briefing on concerns regarding a budget shortfall and the suspension of all Board meetings. The Committee will also request a briefing from the Department on this matter.
Mr McCrea left the meeting at 12.50pm.
Mr McCrea rejoined the meeting at 12.51pm.
Mr Lunn left the meeting at 12.51pm.
The Deputy Chairperson advised that he had received correspondence raising concerns with funding for special schools in the Southern and Western Education and Library Board (SELB and WELB) areas.
Agreed – the Deputy Chairperson will provide the Committee with a copy of the correspondence, which will be forwarded to the SELB and WELB for comment. The Committee may also take an evidence session on this matter at a later date.
Mr Lunn rejoined the meeting at 12.58pm.
Mr Robinson left the meeting at 12.58pm.
Mr McCrea advised that a public meeting would be held in Fair Hill Primary School, Kinallen, on Tuesday 14 October 2008 to discuss current education concerns including arrangements for transfer to post-primary education, and invited Committee Members to attend.
The meeting moved to closed session at 1.00pm.
Transfer to Post-Primary Education
Agreed – Members will forward Party responses to some developments to the Minister’s proposals for transfer to post-primary education discussed at the Committee’s meeting on 1 October 2008 to the Clerk by 15 October 2008.
9. Departmental Briefing on the Review of Irish-Medium Education
Louise Warde Hunter, Head of Early Years, Youth and School Finance Division; and Dr Chris Hughes, Irish-medium and Integrated Education Branch, Department of Education, joined the meeting at 1.01pm.
Mr Robinson rejoined the meeting at 1.03pm.
Mr McCrea left the meeting at 1.03pm.
Mr McCausland left the meeting at 1.08pm.
Mr McCausland rejoined the meeting at 1.20pm.
Mr Lunn left the meeting at 1.20pm.
The officials gave a presentation on the background to the Review and some of its key recommendations, and answered questions on a number of issues, including: compatibility of some of the recommendations with area-based planning and the Sustainable Schools policy; Irish-medium streams and units; co-operation and collaboration with other schools and schools sectors, including the potential for federations; funding and cost implications; Human Rights issues and the Department’s role in relation to the Council of Europe’s ‘European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages’; and funding for research on SEN in Irish-medium education.
The officials agreed to provide a written explanation of the decision to commission some research on behalf of the Department. Officials also agreed to provide the Committee with a summary and analysis of the responses to the consultation on the Review Report on completion.
The Chairperson thanked the officials and they left the meeting at 1.36pm.
10. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 15 October 2008 at 10.00am in Room 144, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.36pm