Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 15 October 2008

Venue: Room 144, Parliament Buildings

The Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.07am in public session.

1.    Apologies

There was one apology.

2.    Minutes of the Meeting of 8 October 2008

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 8 October 2008.

Ms O’Neill joined the meeting at 10.08am.

3.    Matters Arising

The Chairperson notified the Committee that a meeting had been arranged with representatives from the NASUWT at 3.00pm on 15 October 2008 to discuss the industrial dispute involving teachers from Movilla High School, Newtownards. Mr Bradley, Miss McIlveen and Mr O’Dowd agreed to attend the meeting along with the Chairperson.

(a) The Committee noted the response from the Department regarding the Together 4 All Family Support Project.

Agreed – the Committee will forward a copy of the response to the Chief Executive Officer of the Project.

(b) The Committee noted the copy response from the Minister to the Cormack family.

(c) The Committee noted the copy response from the Minister to the Chairperson of the Committee for Employment and Learning regarding issues faced by people with learning and physical disabilities.

(d) The Committee noted the information from the Department on the ‘Achieving Derry – Bright Future’ programme.

(e) The Committee noted a letter from Cerara Special School regarding funding issues relating to a number of Special Schools.

Agreed – the Committee approved draft letters to the Southern and Western Education and Library Boards regarding funding for Special Schools, and will invite representatives from Special Schools to give a presentation at its meeting on 12 November 2008.

4.    Correspondence

(a) The Committee noted the letter from the Construction Industry Group (CIGNI) requesting an opportunity to present some concerns to Members.

Agreed – the Committee will request a written briefing from CIGNI on the two key points outlined in the letter.

(b) The Committee noted the Sustainable Development Commission NI’s E-bulletin, October 2008.

(c) The Committee noted the correspondence from St Bernard’s Primary School.

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft response.

(d) The Committee noted two Departmental press releases: ‘Education Minister Meets Limavady and Dungiven Principals’; and ‘Consultation on Irish-Medium Education Launched.’

5.    Subordinate Legislation

The Committee considered Grammar School (Charges) (Amendment) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2008.

Question put and agreed:

That the Committee for Education has considered Grammar School (Charges) (Amendment) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2008 and has no objection to the rule.’

6.    Departmental Briefing on Every School a Good School – A Policy for School Improvement and a Strategy for Raising Achievement in Literacy and Numeracy

Katrina Godfrey, Head of Raising Standards Division; John Caldwell, School Improvement Branch, Department of Education; and Faustina Graham, Assistant Chief Inspector, Education and Training Inspectorate, joined the meeting at 10.14am. The officials gave a briefing on an analysis of the consultation responses to ‘A Policy for School Improvement’, the revised Policy and the position on the draft ‘Strategy for Raising Achievement in Literacy & Numeracy.’

Mr Robinson joined the meeting at 10.21am.

The briefing focused on measures to raise standards and tackle underachievement in schools and the officials answered questions on a number of issues, including: feedback from teachers; the effective use of data and value added measures; the use and timing of measures of intervention such as Key Stage 2 targets; high level, long-term targets and the need to measure baselines and interim milestones; the importance of Early Years; the need to ensure that investment delivers tangible results and outcomes; information, training and support for school Boards of Governors; leadership and pupil aspirations; pupil-teacher ratios; reading recovery; and the need to ensure support is not removed when standards are met and targets achieved.

Ms O’Neill left the meeting at 10.42am. 
Ms O’Neill rejoined the meeting at 11.08am. 
Mr Poots left the meeting at 11.39am. 
Mr Poots rejoined the meeting at 11.47am. 
Mr O’Dowd left the meeting at 11.49am.

Officials agreed to provide the Committee with further information on a number of points raised during the discussion, the revised Policy for School Improvement, a PWC project outcome, the PAC report implementation to date and the Literacy & Numeracy Strategy consultation outcomes.

The Chairperson thanked the officials for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 11.50am.

Ms O’Neill left the meeting at 11.50am.

7.    Presentation by the Literacy and Numeracy Taskforce

Sir Robert Salisbury, Chairperson; and Máire McGinn, Maureen Smyth and Andy McMorran, Members, Literacy and Numeracy Taskforce, joined the meeting at 11.51am.

Mr O’Dowd rejoined the meeting at 11.51am.

The witnesses gave a presentation updating the Committee on the work of the Taskforce and possible ways forward, and answered questions on a number of issues, including: different approaches for motivating pupils; involvement with the community and voluntary sector and local businesses; the revised curriculum, the Foundation Stage and the importance of Early Years; teacher training and competences; the role of and training for Boards of Governors; motivation and enthusiasm of teachers; the availability of professional support services such as Speech and Language Therapists and Educational Psychologists; the importance of parental and community involvement; and the need to increase emphasis on communication and vocational skills.

Mrs Bradley left the meeting at 12.12pm. 
Mrs Bradley rejoined the meeting at 12.52pm.

At the end of the session the Chairperson thanked the witnesses for a valuable and informative briefing and they left the meeting at 1.00pm.

Agreed – the Committee will forward the Assembly Research and Library Services’ Briefing Note – ‘Every School a Good School – a Policy for School Improvement’ to the Department for comment.

8.    Sustainable Schools

The Committee noted the five Party responses to the Sustainable Schools Policy.

Agreed – the Committee will forward the responses to the Minister for consideration and comment before the Sustainable Schools Policy Paper is finalised.

9.    Forward Work Programme

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft Forward Work Programme.

10. Any Other Business

Agreed – Members will forward Party responses to some potential 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 17 October 2008.

11. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 22 October 2008 at 10.00am in Room 144, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.05pm

Mr Mervyn Storey
Chairperson, Committee for Education
22 October 2008

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