Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 09 December 2009

Venue: Room 21, Parliament Buildings

The Chairperson opened the meeting at 2.03pm in public session.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Minutes of the Meeting of 2 December 2009

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 2 December 2009 subject to minor amendment.

3. Matters Arising

(a) The Committee noted the response of 1 December 2009 from the Department of Education on outstanding Departmental Post Project Evaluations.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s correspondence to the Committee for Finance and Personnel for information.

(b) The Committee noted correspondence of 1 December 2009 from the Department of Education enclosing the draft policy on Community Relations, Equality and Diversity in Education.

Agreed – the Committee would request departmental briefing on the draft policy in the new year.

(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 1 December 2009 from Ms L Saunders on eSchool Data Warehouse and Data Security.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Ms Saunder’s correspondence to the Department of Education to request a response to the issues raised and write to advise Ms Saunders of the Committee’s action on this matter.

(d) The Committee noted the response of 3 December 2009 from the Department of Education on the Review of InCAS and other related issues.

(e) The Committee noted the response of 2 December 2009 from the Department of Education on the establishment of a substitute register for classroom assistants.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Chief Executives of the Education and Library Boards to enquire whether they hold a substitute list for classroom assistants and whether they are experiencing any problems in sourcing replacement classroom assistants at short notice.

(f) The Committee noted a letter of thanks of 30 November 2009 from Foyle View School.

(g) The Committee noted an article published in the Belfast Telegraph entitled ‘School governors join forces to seek cash for primaries’.

(h) The Committee noted a response of 4 December 2009 from the Department of Education on the Review of SEN and Inclusion consultation.

Agreed - – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to Children with Disabilities Strategic Alliance (CDSA) for information.

(i) The Committee noted correspondence of 4 December 2009 from Ian Paisley Jnr MLA enclosing a letter from Ms M Mauger on the SEN and Inclusion Review consultation.

Agreed – the Committee would write to Mr Paisley to advise of the Committee’s scrutiny of the SEN and Inclusion Review proposals.

(j) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 7 December 2009 from the Chairperson to the Minister of Education requesting Department officials provide briefing on the SEN and Inclusion proposals at the start of the Committee’s SEN event scheduled for the evening of 20 January 2010 and for officials to take part in a panel discussion.

(k) The Committee noted a further response of 9 December 2009 from the Department of Education on the Review of SEN and Inclusion consultation.

(l) The Committee noted a response of 8 December 2009 from the Minister of Education to the Chairperson on the attendance of officials at a Committee meeting to provide briefing on interim governance arrangements with the delay in enacting the Education Bill.

4. Correspondence

(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 30 November 2009 from the Parents’ Committee of St Peter’s Primary School, Collegelands on the options being considered for the future of the school against the background of the rural schools debate held in the Assembly on 17 November 2009.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Parents’ Committee’s correspondence to the Department of Education for a response to the issues raised from an operational policy perspective.

(b) The Committee noted a Department of Education Press Release of 3 December 2009 entitled ‘Improvements in Education Standards must Continue – Ruane’.

(c) The Committee noted the minutes of the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group (NI Assembly) meeting of 24 November 2009.

(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 1 December 2009 from Northern Ireland Nurture Network to request an opportunity to brief the Committee on ‘nurture education’.

Agreed – the Committee would receive a briefing from the Network in the new year.

(e) The Committee noted a Department of Education Press Release of 8 December 2009 entitled ‘Community-based projects inspire us all – Ruane’.

The meeting moved into closed session at 2.18pm.

5. Departmental Briefing on the Teacher Education Review

Robson Davison, Deputy Secretary, La’Verne Montgomery, Head of Education Workforce Development Division, Rose Morrow, Head of Teacher Education Review joined the meeting at 2.19pm.

Mr O’Dowd joined the meeting at 2.25pm.

Ms O’Neill left the meeting at 2.59pm.

Mr Craig left the meeting at 3.08pm.

The officials provided briefing on a draft consultation document on Teacher Education Review and answered questions from Members. Officials confirmed they would forward an analysis of the consultation responses when available and would provide further briefing to the Committee on this.

Agreed – the Committee would await receipt of the analysis of the consultation responses before considering a response to the review.

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 3.18pm.

The meeting moved into public session at 3.18pm.

6. Statutory Rule: The Education (GTCNI) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (NI) 2009

The Committee considered The Education (General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2009.

Question put and agreed:

That the Committee for Education has considered Statutory Rule 2009 No.370 The Education (General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2009, and has no objection to the rule.

Mr McCallister joined the meeting at 3.19pm.

Ms McIlveen left the meting at 3.20pm.

7. Departmental Briefing Education Capital Spend and Asset Disposal

John McGrath, Deputy Secretary and Diarmuid McClean, Head of Investment & Infrastructure Division joined the meeting at 3.20pm.

Ms O’Neill rejoined the meeting at 3.23pm.

Ms McIlveen rejoined the meeting at 3.29pm.

The officials provided briefing on education capital spend and asset disposal and answered questions from Members on a number of issues, including: the extent of the backlog of maintenance in schools; the condition of the schools estate; major capital works resourcing problems in 2010/11; the Department’s review of the capital programme; proofing the programme from an education policy framework perspective including the Entitlement Framework; prioritising future capital works projects, including key criteria and weightings; the Investment Delivery Plan; schools estate asset disposals; projected capital programme spend 2010/11; asset disposals within the controlled sector; and levels of clawback realised as a consequence of rationalisation within the maintained sector.

Mr O’Dowd left the meeting at 3.41pm.

Mrs Bradley left the meeting at 3.47pm.

Mr Lunn left the meeting at 3.53pm.

Mr Bradley left the meeting at 4.08pm.

Officials agreed to provide the Committee with detail of clawback resulting from rationalisation within the maintained sector. The Chairperson also requested further information on how future school works will be prioritised, and in particular to have sight of the procedure, criteria and weighting to be used resulting from the Minister’s review of the capital programme.

The Chairperson thanked the officials for an informative briefing and raised the subject of announced interim governance arrangements pending the establishment of the ESA, and in particular, the arrangements regarding the other education bodies including CCMS, CCEA etc. The officials confirmed that the Committee would be informed of the Minister’s proposals in relation to these other bodies and any changes to arrangements already announced by the Minister in ‘a matter of days’. The officials left the meeting at 4.12pm.

8. Statutory Rule – Schools Admissions (Exceptional Circumstances) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2010

Paul Price, Joan Cassells, and Alison Thompson of the School Access Team joined the meeting at 4.12pm.

The officials provided briefing on proposed School Admissions (Exceptional Circumstances) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010 and answered questions from Members on a number of issues, including: the current situation in relation to exceptional circumstances and whether a gap currently exists; the exceptional circumstances process in practice; clarification of the process for statemented children; consultation responses; an explanation of the delay in the processing of the Order; and whether the 4-week timeframe for application to the exceptional circumstances process is adequate.

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 4.29pm.

Agreed – the Committee would consider the proposed Statutory Rule further at its meeting on 13 January 2010.

9. Forward Work Programme

Agreed – the Committee noted the revised draft Forward Work Programme and discussed arrangements for the SEN and Inclusion event on the evening of 20 January 2010. The Committee discussed the draft invitee list and a number of Members emphasised the need to include more parents of children with SEN.

Agreed – the Committee agreed the provisional invitation list and that Members would provide additional names to Committee secretariat for inclusion on the list. However concerns were raised by Members that the venue might not be able to accommodate all those interested in attending.

10. Any Other Business

The Chairperson referred Members to the two separate petitions regarding post primary transfer arrangements that the Committee had received from the Belfast Telegraph and Belfast Media Group.

Agreed – that the Chairperson would write to both organisations to formally acknowledge receipt of the petitions and would forward both petitions to the Minister of Education.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 4.39 pm.

Mr Mervyn Storey
Chairperson, Committee for Education
13 January 2010

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