Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 04 November 2009

Venue: Room 21, Parliament Buildings

The meeting opened at 2.06pm in public session. It was proposed and agreed by all that Ms McIlveen be Acting Chairperson at the meeting in the absence of the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Minutes of the Meeting of 21 October 2009

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 21 October 2009.

3. Matters Arising

(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 20 October 2009 from the Department of Education on the draft Sustainable Development Strategy.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

(b) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 19 October 2009 from the Minister of Education to the Superintendent of the Methodist Church in Ireland, Belfast District on post-primary transfer arrangements.

(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 22 October 2009 from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister on statutory committees’ engagement in European issues.

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

(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 22 October 2009 from Mr Haughan regarding the conduct of the SEELB in relation to a statutory assessment.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Mr Haughan’s letter to the SEELB for comment on the issues raised.

(e) The Committee noted a consultation response from Longstone School, Dundonald to the Department of Education’s SEN and Inclusion Review.

Agreed – The Committee would forward Longstone School’s consultation response to the Department of Education for an interim or immediate response on the issues raised pending a fuller response as part of the overall consultation outcome.

(f) The Committee noted correspondence of 23 October 2009 from the Department of Education regarding teachers’ transferred redundancy and premature retirement.

(g) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence from Mr Greer of Vocational Training and Workshop Facilities to the Minister of Education regarding politics and bureaucracy in education.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to request that it be copied into the Minister’s response to Mr Greer.

(h) The Committee noted correspondence of 23 October 2009 from the Department of Education on payment of 2009 pay increases to education sector staff.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to TUS Secretary, Ms Millar for information.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to request a copy of the letter of 10 September 2009 from the National Joint Council to the Chief Executives of the Education and Library Boards confirming that agreement had been reached on the rates of pay applicable from 1 April 2009. The Committee further agreed to advise the Department that officials will be asked to address the value added by the approval process involved at next week’s Committee meeting education budget briefing session.

(i) The Committee noted correspondence of 27 October 2009 from the Department of Education responding to correspondence from a constituent of Mr Paisley Jr MLA on home education.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to Mr Paisley Jnr for information.

(j) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 22 October 2009 from the Minister of Education to the NICCE on the Commission’s concerns regarding the RPA Education Bill.

(k) The Committee noted correspondence of 28 October 2009 from the Department of Education regarding abolition of the Childcare Voucher Scheme.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to Employers for Childcare for information.

(l) The Committee noted correspondence of 29 October 2009 from the Department of Education responding to the comments of the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) on the SEN and Inclusion Review proposals.

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

(m) The Committee noted correspondence of 2 November 2009 from Ms Saunders regarding data protection issues.

(n) The Committee noted written briefing from the Department of Education on its policy and guidance on Swine Flu.

(o) The Committee noted correspondence of 2 November 2009 from the Department of Education on the INCAS Assessment Tool.

(p) The Committee noted correspondence of 19 October 2009 from the National Autistic Society NI (NAS NI) on its views on the SEN and Inclusion consultation.

Agreed – The Committee would forward NAS NI’s consultation response to the Department of Education for an interim or immediate response on the issues raised pending a fuller response as part of the overall consultation outcome.

(q) The Committee noted correspondence of 26 October 2009 from the Department of Education responding to a letter forwarded by the Committee from Ms Anderson MLA regarding Youthline.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to Ms Anderson for information.

(r) The Committee noted correspondence of 3 November 2009 from Ms Saunders providing additional information for Members in relation to her earlier correspondence on data protection issues.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Ms Saunders correspondence of 1 and 3 November 2009 to the Department of Education for comment on the issues raised.

Agreed – the Committee would write to Ms Saunders to advise her how to access the Department of Education’s briefing paper provided to the Committee at its meeting on 28 September 2007 on the Department’s website.

4. Correspondence

(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 20 October 2009 from Save the Children enclosing a report providing an analysis of public expenditure on children in the UK entitled ‘A Child’s Portion’.

(b) The Committee noted correspondence of 19 October 2009 from Early Years enclosing the final report and recommendations of the Cambridge Primary Review – ‘Children, their World, their Education’.

(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 20 October 2009 from the five Education and Library Boards providing the ‘Supplementary Screening Report on the Screening of New Policies for the Period 1 April 2008 – 31 March 2009’.

(d) The Committee noted a Department of Education Press Release of 21 October 2009 entitled – ‘ Reading Key to Unlocking Creativity - Ruane’.

(e) The Committee noted a Department of Education Press Release of 22 October 2009 entitled – ‘Education Minister Emphasises Importance of Early Learning’.

(f) The Committee noted correspondence of 15 October 2009 from Sustainable NI enclosing its post conference report – ‘Sense and Sustainability: Financing the Path to Sustainability in a Tough Economy’.

(g) The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Education’s Departmental Secretary for NIPSA regarding the uncertainty of the location of the ESA offices.

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

(h) The Committee noted a Department of Education Press Release of 23 October 2009 entitled – ‘Consultation on Review of Special Needs Extended’.

(i) The Committee noted correspondence of 16 October 2009 from CfBT Education Trust enclosing a new guidance report entitled ‘Disabled Parents’ Involvement in Their Children’s Education: An Examination of Good Practice’.

(j) The Committee noted a Department of Education Press Release of 28 October 2009 entitled – ‘Minister Seeks Assurances on Pupil Assessments’.

(k) The Committee noted an invitation to the 20 th Anniversary celebrations of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child at Foyle View School, on 20 November 2009.

(l) The Committee noted an article from the Antrim Guardian on 29 October 2009 reporting that Ms Elaine Loughran, a teacher from St Joseph’s Primary School in Antrim has been named as the UK winner of the Special Needs Teacher of the Year.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Ms Laughran to congratulate her on her achievement.

(m) The Committee noted a record of the key issues discussed and decisions taken at the meeting of the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group on 20 September 2009.

Ms O’Neill joined the meeting at 2.13pm.

5. Departmental Briefing on Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE)

Katrina Godfrey, Head of Curriculum, Qualifications and Standards Directorate, Sharon Lawlor, Head of Curriculum Support Team and Ruth Kennedy, Curriculum & Assessment, NICCEA joined the meeting at 2.13pm. The officials gave a presentation on Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) and answered questions from Members on a number of issues, including: how RSE delivery in schools is monitored by the Department; details of the imminent launch of the electronic survey of RSE in 220 post-primary schools to be followed by a main survey of 20-30 post-primary schools in May/June 2010. Officials confirmed that the outcome of the survey will include highlighting examples of good practice. Officials went on to answer further questions from Members on issues including: how the sensitivities of teachers are addressed; support and training for teachers; the use of external voluntary organisations in the delivery of RSE within schools; the delivery of RSE within a values/ moral based framework; the new approach to the delivery of RSE; whether there is resistance from teachers or particular ethos based schools; the importance of access to a range of resources and materials to assist with the delivery of RSE; the role for the Education and Training Inspectorate; consultation with parents in the formation of RSE policy within schools; the importance of the role of schools to communicate RSE policy to parents; and whether RSE addresses the Sexual Health Promotion Strategy of the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety.

The Chairperson thanked the officials for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 2.36pm.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to remind officials that they agreed to provide the Committee with the results of the electronic survey of 220 post-primary schools as soon as this is available after its analysis in January/February 2010.

6. Departmental Briefing on Child Protection

Dorothy Angus, Head of Inclusion, Access and Well-being Directorate, Mary Potter, Head of Pupil Support Unit and Katrina Godfrey, Head of Curriculum, Qualifications and Standards Directorate joined the meeting at 2.39pm. The officials gave a presentation on Child Protection and answered questions from Members on a number of issues, including: the Child Protection Support Service for School’s (CPSSS) annual audit of all schools to identify and address training needs; whether CPSSS have any statutory powers; current rigorous inspection arrangements of child protection and pastoral care arrangements within schools; developing the skills of designated teachers through training; cluster group meetings of designated teachers as a means of ensuring continuous professional development; information on the domestic violence training developed with assistance from NI Women’s Aid; vetting arrangements in relation to those who work in schools and the robustness of the vetting system; whether there are problems in the exchange of information between Departments due to data protection; the reason for the high volume of calls (4,000 in total) to the helpline for schools; the current and future arrangements for interdepartmental co-operation; and whether there is sufficient protection and safeguard of teaching staff against false accusation.

Mr McCallister joined the meeting at 3.11pm

The Chairperson thanked the officials for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 3.15pm.

7. Forward Work Programme

The Committee discussed and agreed its updated Forward Work Programme.

The Acting Chairperson informed Members that due to advice recently issued by BELB in relation to limiting access arrangements to its special schools due to swine flu concerns that the Committee would postpone its arrangements to visit some of these schools.

The Acting Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 3.18pm

Mr Mervyn Storey 
Chairperson, Committee for Education
11 November 2009

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