Minutes of Proceedings
Date: 10 March 2009
Venue: Room 21, Parliament Buildings
The Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.02 am in public session.
2. Ministerial Briefing on Transfer 2010 Guidance
Minister of Education, Caitríona Ruane; Jackie McMullan, Special Advisor; Dorothy Angus, Head of Supporting and Safeguarding Children; and Paul Price, Open Enrolment and Transfer Procedure Branch, Department of Education, joined the meeting at 10.02 am.
The Chairperson and the Minister both expressed their condolences to the family and friends of Constable Carroll and the Chairperson proposed that the Committee suspend its meeting to join other Members in the Assembly Chamber at 10.30 to observe two minutes’ silence and hear Party Leaders’ Statements on the murder of Constable Carroll. This was agreed.
Mr E Poots joined the meeting at 10.13am
Mr T Elliott joined the meeting at 10.19am.
The Minister made some opening remarks on the Committee’s request for her to reconsider the use of the CCEA test, that her Department had previously commissioned, as an interim compromise transfer arrangement and answered questions on a number of issues and concerns raised by Members including: the level of concern expressed by parents of P6 children and key education organisations about the unregulated system of transfer; the broad consensus that an unregulated transfer system was the least desirable outcome and the Committee’s proposal that the Minister allow the CCEA test to be used on an interim basis pending political agreement on arrangements for post-primary transfer; the freedom of grammar schools to ignore the Transfer 2010 Guidance and how the Department would assess the extent to which schools ‘have regard’ to the Guidance or not;
The Chair suspended the meeting at 10.26 am to resume at 11.00am
The meeting was resumed at 11.00 am with the following members present: Mr M Storey, Chairperson; Mr D Bradley, Deputy Chairperson; Mrs M Bradley; Mr T Elliott; Mr T Lunn; Mr N McCausland; Mr E Poots
Miss M McIlveen rejoined the meeting at 11.04am
Mr J O’Dowd joined the meeting at 11.30am
Ms O’Neill rejoined the meeting at 11.44am
The Minister continued to answer questions on issues and concerns raised by Members including: why the Minister would not go down the ‘CCEA route’ as proposed by the Committee; the Minister’s proposals for transfer going to the Executive for discussion; the Committee’s request for a descriptive list of the social and structural inequalities in the NI education system and the delay in response; the pressure on teachers which the unregulated system was creating and the need for the Minister to listen to parent concerns; how Transfer 2010 Guidance proposals would benefit the socially disadvantaged; the reference in the Guidance on Transfer 2010, questions and answers, to ‘Schools and parents will be given further information on this in due course’ on the free school meals criterion, and the social stigma which deters parents/pupils applying for free school meals; whether or not the Minister would consider an interim CCEA test as a way forward where the Committee could reach consensus and flesh out proposals.
The Chairperson thanked the Minister for coming to Committee.
The Minister, Special Advisor and Officials left the meeting at 12.02pm
3. Matters Arising
The Chairperson referred Members to the correspondence from Lisa Saunders circulated the previous day and enclosures, and proposed that it be forwarded to the Department for its comments on the issues raised.
Agreed: the correspondence and enclosures would be forwarded to the Department for its comments on the issues raised.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.03pm.