Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 20 May 2009

Venue: Room 144, Parliament Buildings

The Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.06am in public session.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Minutes of the Meeting of 13 May 2009

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 13 May 2009.

3. Matters Arising

(a) The Committee noted a letter of 13 May 2009 from the Department of Education regarding correspondence from Mrs Lisa Saunders on Transfer 2010.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to Mrs Saunders for information.

(b) The Committee noted correspondence of 12 May 2009 from SE&LB regarding a development proposal to close Aghavilly Primary School.

Agreed – the Committee would forward a copy of the Department’s letter to Councillor William Irwin MLA for information.

(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 14 May 2009 from the Department of Education on the ICAN Centre, Ballynahinch.

(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 11 May 2009 from SEE&LB on the ICAN Centre, Ballynahinch.

Agreed – the Committee would forward copies of the Department’s and SEE&LB’s letters to Ms Mandy Eakins for information.

(e) The Committee noted correspondence of 13 May 2009 from Buddy Bear Trust regarding funding of the Conductive Education School for Children with Cerbral Palsy in Dungannon.

Agreed – the Committee would await the outcome of the meeting requested by Buddy Bear Trust with OFMdFM, before considering whether Members would wish to meet informally with representatives of the Trust.

(f) The Committee noted correspondence of 15 May 2009 from Buddy Bear Trust enclosing a letter from a parent of a child who attends the Buddy Bear School.

(g) The Committee noted correspondence of 14 May 2009 from the Minister of Education regarding her letter to the South-Eastern Secondary Heads Association on Transfer 2010.

(h) The Committee noted an invitation to Sentinus Young Innovators 2009 on 18 June 2009 at the Odyssey Arena, Belfast. The Chairperson encouraged Members to attend this event which celebrates creativity and excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Agreed - Members would advise Committee staff if they wish to attend this event.

(i) The Committee noted an invitation from Child Poverty Alliance (NI) to a seminar on ‘the role and varying models of family support in alleviating poverty for children and families’ to be held on 16 June 2009 in the Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings.

Agreed - Members would advise Committee staff if they wish to attend this seminar.

(j) The Committee noted correspondence of 15 May 2009 from St Comgall’s College Support Group on the development proposal for the amalgamation of schools in East Antrim and the Glens.

Agreed – the Committee would forward St Comgall’s College Support Group’s letter to the Department of Education for a response to the issues raised. In addition, to ask the Department to provide copies of the Development Proposal and Economic Appraisal upon which the Minister made her decision on the amalgamation of St Comgall’s, St Aloyssius High and St MacNissi’s College.

4. Correspondence

(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 12 May 2009 from Alderman David Simpson MP MLA regarding the lack of nursery places in Lurgan.

(b) The Committee noted correspondence of 8 May 2009 from Alderman David Simpson MP MLA regarding the shortage of pre-school provision in the Upper Bann area.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Mr Simpson’s correspondence to the Department of Education for comment on the issues raised.

(c) The Committee noted an invitation from the Atlantic Philanthropies to an event it is co-hosting with Together 4 All on ‘Social and Emotional Learning’ on 10 June 2009 in the Stormont Hotel, Belfast.

Agreed - Members would advise Committee staff if they wish to attend this event.

(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 14 May 2009 from Smart Start on the work of their organisation as a specialised tuition service.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Smart Start’s letter to the Department of Education for comment on the issues raised and include Smart Start on the list of invitees to a potential informal meeting in June 2009.

(e) The Committee noted the 2007/2008 Annual Report and Accounts for Middletown Centre for Autism laid with the Business Office. The Chairperson advised that the Committee may wish to consider the outcome of the North South Ministerial Council Education Sectoral Meeting being held in Middletown given the recent funding uncertainty for the Middletown Centre.

(f) The Committee noted a press release of 15 May 2009 from the Department of Education entitled – Minister Approves Integrated Status for Parkhall College.

(g) The Committee noted correspondence of 12 May 2009 from Northern Ireland Children’s Enterprise (NICE) regarding the ongoing review of community relations policy.

Agreed – the Committee would forward NICE’s letter to the Department of Education for comment on the issues raised.

(h) The Committee noted correspondence of 19 May 2009 from the Committee for Employment and Learning to the Minister of Education on the Review of the Teacher Demand Model.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Committee for Employment and Learning’s letter to the Department of Education as requested.

(i) The Committee noted correspondence of 18 May 2009 from Northern Ireland Teachers’ Council (NITC) regarding the consultation on draft Teachers’ (Compensation for Redundancy and Premature Retirement) Regulations (NI) 2009 and complementing amendments to the Teachers Superannuation Regulations (NI) 1998.

Agreed – the Committee would write to NITC to request a copy of their response to the consultation on the Regulations.

(j) The Committee noted an invitation to the Chairperson to be guest speaker, at the National Deaf Children’s Society’s Young Authors and Artists Prize Day on 17 June 2009 in NICCY Millennium House, Belfast.

Agreed – The Committee would write to NDCS to offer the Chairperson’s apologies that he will be unable to attend as guest speaker, as the event coincides with a meeting of the Committee for Education.

(k) The Committee noted a media invitation of 18 May 2009 from the Department of Education to the North South Ministerial Council – Education Sectoral Meeting on 20 May 2009 in Middletown Autism Centre.

(l) The Committee noted two Press Releases of 19 May 2009 from the Department of Education entitled ‘ Middletown Must Go Ahead – Ruane’ and ‘Internet Safety a Priority – Ruane’.

Mr McCausland joined the meeting at 10.16am.

5. Education Bill – Committee Stocktake

The Chairperson provided a summary of the progress of the work of the Committee in its scrutiny of the Education Bill to date. The Committee then considered a draft letter to the Minister of Education (and attached table) responding to the Department of Education’s correspondence of 5 May 2009, which addressed some of the Committee’s key concerns and information requests on the Bill.

Mr Elliott joined the meeting at 10.18am.
Mr Bradley joined the meeting at 10.23am.

Members considered the draft letter to the Department of Education paragraph by paragraph.

Paragraphs 1 and 2 read and agreed.
Paragraph 3 read, amended and agreed.
Paragraphs 4 - 7 read and agreed.
Paragraph 8 read, amended and agreed.
Paragraphs 9 - 11 read and agreed.
Members considered the attached draft table section by section.
Title of Table amended and agreed.
Section 1 read, amended and agreed.
Section 2 read and agreed.
Section 3 read, amended (to include new paragraph) and agreed.
Section 4 read, amended and agreed.

Mr McCrea joined the meeting at 10.51am. 
Mr Lunn left the meeting at 11.01am

Agreed – The amended letter and attached table would be forwarded to the Department of Education and emailed to Members.

6. Education Bill - Departmental Briefing on Education Advisory Forum

Chris Stewart, Head of Review of Public Administration and Eve Stewart, Review of Public Administration joined the meeting at 11.03am.

The officials gave a presentation on and answered questions from members on a number of issues including: whether members on the EAF will be able to set aside sectoral loyalties; will the advice of the EAF have precedence over that of Sectoral Bodies; what added value the EAF will bring; what autonomy the EAF have to determine its own work programme and agenda; the extent of the influence of the EAF on Department policy; the scrutiny of the work of the EAF; the relationship between DEL and the EAF and whether DEL will contribute to EAF’s costs; the anticipated running costs of the EAF; DE observer status on the EAF; how often the EAF will meet; representation on the EAF and how representatives are appointed; ensuring a balance between the customer and supplier sides of education representation on the EAF; the opportunity for the representation of customers with special needs, disabilities, and from marginalised groups (such as Traveller groups or ‘Newcomer’ population) on the EAF; how the two parents and two children representatives on the EAF can represent the views of all parents and children and the recruitment of these representatives; how the Trade Union representative will be recruited and whether it would be better for this to be an open recruitment process; and a definition of the commercial organisation representation.

The Chairperson thanked the officials for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 11.41am.

7. Departmental Briefing - Literacy and Numeracy outcomes - Pupil performance and attainment

Katrina Godfrey, Head of Raising Standards, Dr Chris Hughes, Early Years, Youth and School Finance Division and Karen McCullough, Strategy, Performance & Accountability joined the meeting at 11.42am.

The officials gave a presentation on, and answered questions from members on a number of issues including: an explanation for the fall in NI’s ranking in reading and mathematics in the PISA results and whether the drop in scores is statistically significant; what the Department are doing about the reasons presented in the PWC report for the underachievement of some children including ‘a lack of parental involvement in their children’s education’ and ‘a perceived lack of value placed on education in certain areas, particularly deprived Protestant areas’; what additional resources are being targeted to address the ‘underachievement of boys from deprived Protestant areas’; interventions to promote educational ‘aspiration’ in children; statistical evidence of the distortion of the primary curriculum which the Minister wants to bring to an end; statistical evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of the revised school curriculum; progress on the Review of the Common Funding Formula; what are the key quantitative measures demonstrating improvements in schools through the programmes such as ‘Achieving Belfast’; the difference between the approach in the North West programme and ‘Achieving Belfast’; why boys are more vulnerable to poor teaching;

Mr McCrea left the meeting at 12.26pm. 
Miss McIlveen left the meeting at 12.31pm.

whether there should be a more structured involvement and co-operation between DE and DSD in education and social development; how accurate and useful the FSME indicator is in helping the Department to tackle underachievement; the difference between entitlement to, and uptake of, free school meals; whether there is a higher level of FSME in Protestant working class areas than other areas; statistics relating to the achievement of 5 or 7 GCSEs; when the results of the consultation on the revised Literacy and Numeracy Strategy will be made available to the Committee; progress of the work of the Traveller Taskforce; and when statistical analysis of the benefits of the revised curriculum will be available.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to remind the Department officials to provide the following information agreed to be provided during the course of the Committee meeting discussions:

  • how the issue of the underachievement of boys, and specifically, boys from deprived Protestant areas is being addressed by the Department (including specific and additional targeting of resources);
  • comparison of the performance of girls from deprived Protestant areas to girls across Northern Ireland;
  • evidence that there is a causal relationship between preparation for the transfer test and any ‘assumed’ or ‘observed’ detriment to children’s educational achievement referred to in the research referred to by officials.
  • an update on the progress of the terms of reference for, and timing of the Review of the Common Funding Formula;
  • proxy indicators measuring the effectiveness of ‘Achieving Belfast’;
  • the range of factors which contribute to the greater vulnerability of boys to poor teaching;
  • on the basis that there is a correlation between FSME and educational underachievement –confirm or otherwise whether there a higher level of FSME in Protestant working class areas than Catholic, at primary and secondary school level and particularly for boys;
  • a breakdown of statistics relating to the achievement of 5 or 7 GCSEs within secondary and grammar schools;
  • when the results of the consultation on the revised Literacy and Numeracy Strategy will be made available to the Committee;
  • at what stage is the work of the Traveller Taskforce; and
  • the assessment arrangements and timescale for the analysis of the benefits of the revised curriculum.

The Chairperson thanked the officials for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 12.52pm.

8. Forward Work Programme

Agreed - The Committee agreed the updated Forward Work Programme, including the 27 May Education Bill session.

Agreed - The Clerk to prepare a list of those organisations who have made requests to meet with the Committee and the Committee to consider at next week’s meeting whether to hold an informal session on 24 June to meet with these organisations.

9. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The Committee agreed that the next meeting of the Committee would be held on Wednesday 27 May 2009 at 10.00am in Room 144, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.53pm.

Mr Mervyn Storey
Chairperson, Committee for Education
27 May 2009

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