Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 28 January 2009

Venue: Room 144, Parliament Buildings

The Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.03am in public session. He welcomed Tom Elliott to his first meeting of the Committee for Education and thanked Ken Robinson for his work on this Committee and referred to his work on the Committee during the previous mandate.

1. Apologies

Mr Bradley joined the meeting at 10.04am.

There were no apologies.

2. Minutes of the Meeting of 21 January 2009

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 21 January 2009 subject to minor amendment.

Miss McIlveen joined the meeting at 10.05am.

3. Matters Arising
  • (a) The Committee noted receipt of the Committee for Employment and Learning’s Report on the Review of Teacher Education and that the date set for the debate on the Report is Tuesday, 3 February 2009.

Agreed – the Committee would schedule consideration of the Report into its forward work programme.

Mr McCausland joined the meeting at 10.09am.

  • (b) The Chairperson reminded Members of the CCEA’s invitation to an Art Exhibition on Monday, 2 February 2009.
  • (c) The Committee noted an email from ‘Love for Life’ requesting confirmation of a date to present to the Committee.

Agreed – the Committee would write to ‘Love for Life’ to confirm that it would consider this request at a later date taking into consideration the work commitments of the Committee and invite ‘Love for Life’ to submit a summary of the issues they wish to raise with the Committee in the interim.

  • (d) The Committee noted correspondence of 22 January 2009 from the Chairperson of the Committee for Employment and Learning to the Minister of Education regarding the eligibility of teachers trained in Northern Ireland to teach in the Irish Republic.

Agreed – the Committee would forward this correspondence to the Minister of Education as requested.

  • (e) The Committee noted correspondence from ‘Global Dimensions in School NI’ acknowledging the Committee’s consideration of previous correspondence and a request for a meeting with the Committee.
  • (f) The Committee noted correspondence of 26 January 2009 from the Chairperson of the Committee for Social Development to the Minister for Education asking for a response to an earlier letter on neighbourhood renewal.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the correspondence to the Minister of Education as requested.

  • (g) The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Education replying to a number of matters on RPA Education Reform issues raised by the Committee in correspondence between May and July 2008.
  • (h) The Committee noted a press release of 27 January 2009 from the Department of Education entitled ‘Education Minister meets with Co Down School Principals’.
4. Correspondence
  • (a) The Committee noted a request from Holy Trinity College, Cookstown to host a meeting of the Committee.

Agreed – the Committee would write to Holy Trinity College to confirm that it would consider this request at a later date taking into consideration the work commitments of the Committee and, in particular, its current scrutiny of the Education Bill.

  • (b) The Committee noted correspondence from Keady Primary School requesting to meet with the Committee regarding the school’s closure.

Agreed – the Committee would forward this correspondence to the Department of Education for a response to the issues raised.

Agreed – the Committee would write to Keady Primary School to advise that the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson would meet with the School’s Board of Governors once the Department’s response has been received.

Agreed – the Committee would revisit how best to handle invitations to meet with schools and other interested organisations to take account of the Committee’s workload.

  • (c) The Committee noted correspondence from Londonderry Primary School requesting the Committee’s support for the school’s economic appraisal and new build.

Agreed – the Committee would forward this correspondence to the Department of Education for a response to the issues raised.

  • (d) The Committee noted an invitation from the General Teaching Council for NI to attend an annual lecture on 31 March 2009.

Agreed – the Committee agreed that any member wishing to attend would advise the Clerk.

  • (e) The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Education enclosing a copy of ‘Vision Friendly Schools Booklet’ sent to all schools in NI to help staff understand the needs of young people with visual impairment.
  • (f) The Committee noted consultation information from NEELB on controlled primary school provision in Ballymena Town (South).
  • (g) The Committee noted correspondence from Ballykelly Primary School regarding teaching staff reductions.

Agreed – the Committee would forward this correspondence to the Department of Education for a response to the issues raised.

  • (h) The Committee noted an invitation from the Regional Training Unit to attend an Annual Leadership Lecture on 24 February 2009 to be given by Sir Michael Barber.

Agreed – the Committee agreed that any member wishing to attend would advise the Clerk.

  • (i) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence being sent by St Patrick’s Primary School, Pennyburn to parents requesting their support to petition the Minister of Education asking for clarification on the transfer procedure for 2009/10 and beyond.
  • (j) The Committee noted a press release from Buddy Bear Trust regarding a conference held on 15 January 2009 on conductive education for children with cerebral palsy.
  • (k) The Committee noted a press release of 27 January 2009 from the Department of Education entitled ‘Minister to Launch Northern Ireland Careers Strategy’.
5. Education Bill
  • (a) Departmental Briefing - Designing Modern Education Services

Gavin Boyd, Designate CEO of ESA, John McGrath, Deputy Secretary, and Mark Browne, Programme Director of the ESA Implementation Team (ESAIT) joined the meeting at 10.18am.

Mr McCrea joined the meeting at 10.20am 
Mr Poots joined the meeting at 10.26am

The officials gave a presentation on designing modern education services, the methodology followed by ESAIT, the workshops held with education managers and answered questions on a number of issues, including: the availability of draft costed organisational structures showing local and regional staff allocations for the 20 service areas; whether as a result of the workshops held, agreement had been reached on regional and local functional splits in services; the number of local area teams; the risks in the process of moving from old to new centralised IT systems; whether the centralisation of some functions would be Belfast-centric; expressed levels of satisfaction regarding the workshops held; centralisation of the procurement of services with potential for an adverse impact on small local providers; the level of influence of the local advisory committees; establishment of a mechanism for local decision making; change in emphasis for the ESA from cost savings to educational outcomes; range of figures for projected savings to be made from voluntary redundancies; concerns regarding the potential loss of key experienced staff through the voluntary redundancy process; potential for greater rationalisation and savings within administration and redirection of funds to front-line services.

Mr McCrea left the meeting at 11.26am

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and the ESAIT Programme Director left the meeting at 11.28am.

Ms O’Neill left the meeting at 11.29am 
Mr T Elliott left the meeting at 11.29am

  • (b) Departmental Briefing – ESA – Outline Business Case

Gavin Boyd, Designate CEO of ESA and John McGrath, Deputy Secretary, began the second presentation at 11.29am. They were later joined by Catherine Daly, Head of Finance Division at 11.56am.

Ms O’Neill rejoined the meeting at 12.05pm

The officials gave a presentation on ESA Outline Business Case and answered questions on a number of issues, including: when the full business case will be finalised; existing E&LBs shared services and where the main savings in the OBC will come from; potential for rationalisation of education initiatives; the administrative burden on teachers and principals; potential further savings in administration costs; whether ESA will take over responsibility for pension schemes; position of those teachers whose applications for voluntary redundancies were lodged before and after November 2008; the official’s growing confidence that the projected savings would be achieved and in the OBC generally.

Agreed – that the Committee would write to the Department of Education requesting the following information:

  • the full business case to be finalised by summer 2009 is forwarded as soon as available;
  • an estimate of the costs involved (based on administrative staff and teachers time) in administering educational initiatives;
  • a breakdown of the different roles included in the ‘Middle Management/Professions’ category referred to in page 46 of the OBC;
  • further information in relation to the six possible costs and benefits listed in page 48 of the OBC, including approximate amounts for each of the listed savings/costs.
  • the position of teachers who have applied for early retirement before and after November 2008, to include reference to the bids registered in the Strategic Stocktake exercise, including the implications of the bids not being met or only partly met.

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and the officials left the meeting at 12.17pm.

6. Forward Work Programme

The Committee noted and approved the amended Forward Work Programme incorporating two new items - Budget Briefing and Stocktake Update.

7. Any Other Business
  • The Chairperson reminded Members that the STEM event on Wednesday, 18 February would commence at 12 noon and that the Committee’s normal meeting would finish earlier that day to facilitate Members attendance at the event.
  • The Chairperson reminded Members that the motion to extend the Committee Stage of the Education Bill is on the Order Paper for Monday, 2 February 2009.
  • The C hairperson reminded Members that two party responses to the proposals on transfer issues remain outstanding and that these should be forwarded to the Clerk as a matter of urgency to enable a Committee response to be drafted for consideration at the meeting on 11 February.
8. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The Committee agreed that the next meeting will be held on Wednesday 4 February 2009 at 10.00am in Room 144, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.20pm.

Mr Mervyn Storey
Chairperson, Committee for Education
4 February 2009

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