Minutes of Proceedings
Date: 18 March 2009
Venue: Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings
The Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.04am in public session.
Apologies are detailed above.
2. Minutes of the Meetings of 10 and 11 March 2009
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meetings of 10 and 11 March 2009.
3. Matters Arising
(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 9 March 2009 from the Department of Education regarding correspondence received from Mr Michael Gilsenan, Lee Opticians on the issue of Visual Stress.
Agreed – the Committee would forward a copy of the Department’s correspondence to Mr Gilsenan.
(b) The Committee noted correspondence of 11 March 2009 from the Department of Education regarding the consultation on The Education (Pupil Records and Reporting) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2009.
(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 12 March 2009 from the Chairperson of the Committee for Employment and Learning to the Minister of Education on STEM events.
Agreed – the Committee would forward the correspondence to the Minister as requested.
(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 12 March 2009 from the Chairperson of the Committee for Employment and Learning to the Minister of Education regarding the Apprenticeships, Children, Skills and Learning Bill and the related Legislative Consent Motion.
Agreed – the Committee would forward the correspondence to the Minister as requested.
(e) The Committee noted correspondence on the provision of speech and language services at Taughmonagh Primary School.
Agreed – the Committee would consider this matter again at a future meeting.
(f) The Committee noted correspondence of 16 March 2009 from the Department of Education on the Barosso Taskforce.
Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister.
(g) The Committee noted correspondence of 15 March 2009 from Ms Lisa Saunders regarding Transfer 2010 and the Education (Pupil Records and Reporting) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2009.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education requesting the position in relation to the issues raised and notify Ms Saunders accordingly.
(h) The Committee noted a draft letter to the Department of Education detailing Committee concerns on the Education Bill to date and outstanding information requests to the Department on the Bill.
Agreed – the Committee would forward the letter (subject to one addition) to the Department.
(a) The Committee noted the March edition of the Equality Commission’s e-newsletter, Equality Focus.
(b) The Committee noted an invitation from the Child Poverty Alliance to a series of seminars on issues relating to child poverty to be held in the Long Gallery on 24 March, 21 April, 16 June and 22 September 2009.
Agreed - Members would advise Committee staff if they wish to attend any of the seminars.
(c) The Committee noted correspondence from Lagan College enclosing a petition signed by the staff of the school asking for completion of their building programme. A Member of the Committee raised serious concerns regarding the time it is taking the Department to progress with this matter.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to request an update on this matter and notify Lagan College accordingly.
(d) The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Education proposing to make amended regulations – Teachers’ (Compensation for Redundancy and Premature Retirement) Regulations 2009 and complementing amendments to the Teachers’ Superannuation Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 1998.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department to confirm that it would consider requesting a briefing from officials once a summary of consultation responses and an indication of the way forward is provided to the Committee.
Agreed –Members with concerns regarding the consultation to bring these back for consideration by the Committee.
(e) The Committee noted correspondence from the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group on work shadowing placements during disability week.
Agreed – Members would advise Committee Staff if they are interested in taking part in this initiative.
(f) The Committee noted an invitation from Buddy Bear Trust to attend an open information meeting on 26 March 2009 in Coalisland.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to request an update on current provision of education across the five Education and Library Boards for children with cerebral palsy and in particular outline the provision of conductive education within the present system.
(g) The Committee noted correspondence from the South Eastern Secondary Heads Association about concerns regarding the unregulated transfer system for 2009/10.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education requesting a response to the issues raised.
(h)The Committee noted a press release of 13 March 2009 from the Department of Education entitled Ruane – Addresses Teachers’ Union Conference.
5. Education Bill – Evidence Sessions
(a) Northern Ireland Commission for Catholic Education
Cardinal Sean Brady, Bishop Donal McKeown, Chair of the Commission, Bishop Patrick Walsh and Sister Eithne Woulfe, Commission Members, and John Gordon, Legal Adviser to the Commission joined the meeting at 10.18am.
Ms McIlveen joined the meeting at 10.23am.
Mr Poots joined the meeting at 10.36am.
The witnesses gave a presentation on the Education Bill and answered questions from members on a number of issues including: lack of clarity within the Bill, particularly on employment issues; current representation and influence of trustees on Boards of Governors; the overarching ethos of Catholic school sector; sectoral identity, employment powers of CCMS being devolved to individual Boards of Governors; achieving streamlined form of governing schools and NICCE proposals; devolving responsibility locally; locally delegated autonomy of voluntary grammar schools sector;
Mr Elliott left the meeting at 11.12am.
if Clause 8 (2) is clearly set out in model employment schemes and associated guidance and was subject to full consultation with submitting authorities and possible independent appeals systems and/or subject to regulations and control of the Assembly, whether this would remove some of NICCE’s concerns in this regard; powers of schools to conduct and represent themselves at tribunals and in courts; conflict of legal opinion on this; clarification of clear autonomous employer role for Boards of Governors within the primary or secondary legislation; whether the proposed legislation diminishes the role of the Boards of Governors; whether the Commission is seeking further exemptions in the process; requirement for supported autonomy, the source of this support and whether the sectoral bodies should provide this support; the statutory support and encouragement provided for the Integrated and Irish Medium Sectors within Article 64 of the Education Reform Order and Article 89 of the 1998 Order; requirement for clarity on roles and functions of support bodies; critical link between employment and ethos; difference between the role of CCMS and ESA in the preservation of the ethos of the school; consultation with trustees on appointment of community governors; concerns regarding the councillor representation membership of ESA; whether ESA undermines the rights for a faith based education; whether membership of ESA should be reflective of the community; what discussions have taken place between the Commission and the Department on the Bill; faith based education provision within Scotland and Europe; concerns regarding preservation of the ethos; clause 3 being unacceptable in its present form.
The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 12.01pm.
(b) Council for Catholic Maintained Schools
Bishop John McAreavey, Chair of Council, Mr Donal Flanagan, Chief Executive, Mr Jim Clarke, Deputy Chief Executive, and Mrs La’Verne Montgomery, Head of Human Resources and Corporate Services joined the meeting at 12.02pm.
The witnesses gave a presentation on the Education Bill and answered questions from members on a number of issues including: if Clause 8 (2) is clearly set out in model employment schemes and associated guidance and was subject to full consultation with submitting authorities and possible independent appeals systems and/or subject to regulations and control of the Assembly, whether this would remove some of CCMS’s concerns in this regard; clarity in relation to the employment role of the Boards of Governors; the difference between the employing authority and employer; concerns regarding potential change of authority of Boards of Governors in respect of discipline, grievances and dismissals; lack of clarity in how ESA will exercise role of employing authority; legal accountability of employer/employing authority; role of CCMS in supporting the Catholic ethos; lack of clarity of Clause 3; exercise of accountable autonomy; concerns regarding the appointment of community governors; sensitivity to ethos within the definition of Community Governors ‘living and working in the local community’; roles of Boards of Governors and employing authority; representation of schools at tribunal and courts; change of emphasis from saving money to raising standards; co-operation between sectoral support bodies and ESA in raising standards; influence of sectoral bodies and their role and functions; how CCMS is constituted; retention of exemption on teacher recruitment.
The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 12.48pm.
Mrs Bradley left the meeting at 12.48pm.
Agreed – the Committee agreed to postpone the Department of Education’s response to the evidence sessions from NICCE and CCMS until the next meeting of the Committee on 25 March 2009.
Agreed – the Committee would provide copies of the Department’s response paper to NICCE and CCMS.
6. Policy Briefing on Education and Training Inspectorate – Chief Inspector’s Report 2006-2008
Stanley J Goudie, Chief Inspector, Faustina Graham and Dr Maureen Bennett, Assistant Chief Inspectors joined the meeting at 12.51pm.
Mr Poots left the meeting at 12.56pm.
The witnesses gave a presentation on the Chief Inspector’s Report 2006-2008 and answered questions from members on a number of issues including: concerns about the poor aspects of provision within the primary sector; what needs to be done to address the problems within the primary sector, particularly regarding poor literacy and numeracy attainment; whether the revised curriculum is capable of raising standards;
Mr O’Dowd left the meeting at 1.17pm.
Mr Lunn left the meeting at 1.21pm.
Mr Bradley left the meeting at 1.34pm.
Requirement for a standardised system of reporting; the effective use of the data/statistics collected; school development plans;how to address the criticism within the Report of the Irish language competence of teaching staff within the Irish Medium Sector; use of the term ‘Leader’ rather than ‘Principal’ within the Report regarding the pre-school sector; quality of provision across the pre-school sector; key transition points within education and related concerns; treatment of marginalised pupils in alternative education provision; contribution of youth provision/informal sector; addressing the range of need within the classroom; developing the capacity of teachers; autonomy of Inspectorate in reporting process; data regarding youth service provision; the need for maximum enrolment figure for special schools and accommodation pressures.
The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 1.43pm.
7. Forward Work Programme
The Committee noted the updated forward work programme.
8. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting
The next meeting of the Committee would be held on Wednesday 25 March 2009 at 10.00am in Room 144, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.44 pm.