Minutes of Proceedings
Date: 03 February 2010
Venue: Room 21, Parliament Buildings
The Chairperson opened the meeting at 2.08pm in public session.
2. Minutes of the Meeting of 27 January 2010
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 27 January 2010.
3. Matters Arising
Mr Lunn joined the meeting at 2.09pm.
(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 22 January 2010 from the Principal of Fleming Fulton School on its LILAC project and requesting an opportunity to speak to the Committee on this.
Agreed –the Committee would write to Fleming Fulton School to advise that its correspondence has been noted and its request for a meeting would be considered when the Committee reviews its Forward Work Programme.
(b) The Committee noted copies of correspondence of 21 January 2010 from Vocational Training Workshop Facilities to the Minister of Education and Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment regarding politics and bureaucracy in education.
Agreed – the Committee would request that the Department of Education copy it in on any response from the Minister on this.
(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 22 January 2010 from the I CAN Early Years Centre at Ballynahinch Primary School on failing to receive funding from SEELB for the retention of its services for the forthcoming year.
Agreed – the Committee would forwards the correspondence from I CAN to SEELB for comment on the issues raised.
(d) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 27 January 2010 from Ms Fiona O’Toole to the Department of Education on the SEN and Inclusion Review Consultation.
Agreed – the Committee would request that it be copied in on any response from the Department of Education to Ms O’Toole.
(e) The Committee noted correspondence of 28 January 2010 from the Northern Ireland Teachers Council (NITC) on the SEN and Inclusion Review Consultation.
Agreed – the Committee would forward NITC’s correspondence to the Department of Education and would consider inviting NITC to present the paper to the Committee when it reviews its Forward Work Programme.
(f) The Committee noted correspondence of 28 January 2010 from the Department of Education confirming that as soon as there is clarity on the way ahead with the Education Bill, the Department will engage with the Committee on the Employment Scheme Regulations and on the Order to be made under Clause 12 of the Bill.
(g) The Committee noted a briefing paper from Assembly Research Services on ‘Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 and the 2009 Amendment Act’.
(h) The Committee noted correspondence of 25 January 2010 from Mr Sean McGahan regarding the SEN and Inclusion Review Consultation.
(i) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 25 January 2010 from Mr Ken Stacey to the Deputy Chairperson suggesting the establishment of a ‘Parent Forum’ to discuss issues on SEN provision within the present and future education system.
Agreed – the Committee would forward Mr Stacey’s correspondence to the Department of Education for a response on the issue raised.
(a) The Committee noted an invitation to attend the GTCNI Annual Lecture on ‘Realising our Potential’ considering system-level issues in Northern Ireland education to take place on 22 April 2010, St Mary’s University College, Belfast.
(b) The Committee noted an invitation from BBC NI Irish Language Unit to attend the launch of their new educational website for children on 25 February 2010 in BBC Broadcasting House.
(c) The Committee noted an invitation from NICCY to a workshop on ‘Tackling Child Poverty Amongst 16 and 17 year olds’ on 10 February 2010 in the Wellington Park Hotel, Belfast.
(d) The Committee noted a record of the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group meeting held on 19 November 2010.
(e) The Committee noted a Department of Education Press Release of 28 January 2010 entitled ‘Attendance at grant aided primary, post-primary and special schools 2008/09: Summary Statistics’.
(f) The Committee noted correspondence from Libraries NI inviting comment on the equality impact of the Strategic Review of Libraries in Greater Belfast.
(g) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 22 January 2010 from Dr Liz Fawcett to the Deputy Chairperson requesting an opportunity to make a presentation to the Committee on the subject of school starting age.
Agreed – the Committee would write to advise Dr Fawcett that her request would be considered when the Department of Education has provided the Committee with its Early Years (0-6) Strategy.
(h) The Committee noted a Department of Education Press Release of 1 February 2010 entitled ‘Engineering is at the heart of modern life – Ruane’.
(i) The Committee noted a Department of Education Press Release of 2 February 2010 entitled ‘Education can open many doors - Ruane’.
(j) The Committee noted a copy of a petition presented to the Chairperson from parents on the subject of the underfunding of primary schools in Northern Ireland.
Agreed – the Committee would forward the petition to the Minister of Education.
5. Presentation from Nurture Network on Nurture Education in Northern Ireland
Garry Mathewson, Chairperson, Janet Pearce, Geoff Dunn, Damien Harkin and Mary Roulston of Nurture Network Group joined the meeting at 2.15pm.
The witnesses provided briefing on Nurture Education in Northern Ireland and answered questions from Members on a number of issues, including: the issue of stigmatising children; early intervention; the process of reintegration to mainstream classes; examples of barriers to learning; whether children within Nurture Groups are still taught the curriculum;
Mr McCallister joined the meeting at 2.46pm.
code of practice levels; the added value that nurture groups provide; examples of the reasons for referral to nurture groups; what the nurture environment provides that SEN provision does not; whether nurturing can prevent children from being excluded from school; primary and post primary nurture provision; staffing and accommodation requirements; lack of core funding for Nurture Groups; and the cost effectiveness of nurture provision.
The representatives of the Nurture Network Group extended an invitation to Committee Members to visit any of the schools to view the work of the nurture groups in practice.
Agreed – the Committee would forward the Nurture Network’s presentation papers and speaking notes to the Department of Education for a response to the issues raised.
Agreed – the Committee would consider the draft motion presented by Nurture Network Group upon receipt of a response from the Department of Education on the issues raised.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Committee for Social Development to request further information regarding the Department for Social Development’s funding for Nurture Groups through its Neighbourhood Renewal Programme.
The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 3.04pm.
6. Departmental Briefing on Education Budget Spending Plans 2010-11
The Minister for Education, Jackie McMullan, Special Advisor to the Minister, John McGrath, Deputy Secretary and Catherine Daly, Director of Finance and joined the meeting at 3.07pm.
The Minister and her officials provided briefing on Education Budget Spending Plans 2010-11 and answered questions from Members on a number of issues, including: potential staff redundancies; redundancy package costs; minimising the impact on, and protecting frontline services; the impact of the delay in the implementation of ESA; the Convergence Delivery Plan; the implementation of ESA providing a reduction in bureaucracy and duplication of services; the correlation with the costs of the implementation of Convergence and the implementation of ESA; whether the Convergence Plan is within the legal remit of the 1986 Northern Ireland Education Order; the treatment of the controlled sector; the impact of the absence of councillor appointments to the reconstituted Education and Library Boards; the role and remit of the Committee in relation to advising the Minister on the Education Budget Spending Plans; the level of ongoing engagement between the Department with the groups and political parties who have difficulties with the Education Bill in its current form; the proposed reduction of £22 million in the capital budget and whether there will be any new builds started in the coming year; the Minister’s review of capital projects to ensure viability and consistency with the Department’s policy framework; the sale of redundant properties; the position in relation to the discussion of education matters at Executive Committee; the transition arrangements relating to Teacher Appointment Committees; the position of SEELB in relation to Teacher Appointment Committees; whether the £24.3 million for SEN Review training and capacity building can be delivered and whether it is appropriate to continue with this given the serious level of concern with the proposals; and the disparity of funding between primary and post-primary schools.
The Chairperson sought clarification further to the Minister’s speech in the Assembly on Monday, 1 February 2010 in which she stated that the Convergence Delivery Plan had been sent to the Committee. The Minister confirmed that she made a mistake in her speech and would write to the House on this. The Minister advised that the Convergence Delivery Plan would be provided to the Committee in due course.
Agreed – the Minister for Education agreed to provide the Committee (without breaking confidentiality) with a list of those education issues discussed at the Executive Committee.
The Chairperson thanked the Minister and Departmental officials for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 4.15pm.
7. Departmental Briefing on February In-Year Monitoring
Catherine Daly, Director of Finance and Gillian Uprichard, Financial Planning Division joined the meeting at 4.15pm.
The officials provided a briefing on February in-year Monitoring position and answered questions from Members on a number of issues, including: the classification of £2.3 million resource to admin as a technical/ re-labelling change; restrictions regarding the ‘labelling’ and categorisation of admin funding; and the rationale for the proposal to remove preparatory school funding.
Agreed – the Officials agreed to provide the Committee with a paper providing an explanation of the £2.3 million technical change.
The Chairperson thanked officials for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 4.26pm.
The meeting moved into closed session at 4.26pm.
8. Consideration of draft Committee Response to the Education Budget Spending Plans 2010-11
The Committee discussed the draft Committee response to the Education Budget Spending Plans 2010-11.
Agreed – the Committee agreed the paper subject to the inclusion of a paragraph to reflect the Committee’s discussion with the Minister at today’s meeting and agreed that the revised paper be circulated to Members for Committee approval.
Mr McCallister left the meeting at 4.41pm.
9. Consideration of draft Committee Response to the SEN and Inclusion Policy Proposals Consultation
Agreed – Members would consider the draft Committee response to the SEN and Inclusion Policy Proposals Consultation for discussion and decision at next week’s meeting.
10. Forward Work Programme
The Committee noted and agreed the updated Draft Forward Work Programme.
11. Any Other Business
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 4.48pm.