Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 09 September 2009

Venue: Room 144, Parliament Buildings

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

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Legal Advice

The Legal Advisor to the Assembly provided a briefing on legal advice on specific issues in the Education Bill requested by the Committee, and answered Members’ questions.

Mr McAllister joined the meeting at 10.15am.
Ms McIlveen left the meeting at 10.21am.

3. Examiner of Statutory Rules

The Committee considered a paper from the Examiner of Statutory Rules in relation to powers to make subordinate legislation within the Education Bill.

The meeting moved into public session at 10.37am.

The Chairperson expressed his, and the sympathy of the Committee, to Mr McAllister on the recent death of his father. The Chairperson also expressed his sympathy to the family of James Elliott and to those other families who lost young people in tragic circumstances over the summer period.

The Chairperson extended the congratulations of the Committee to all those pupils who recently received GCSE, ‘AS’ Level, ‘A’ Level and vocational qualifications.

4. Minutes of the Meeting of 1 July 2009

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 1 July 2009.

5. Matters Arising

(a) The Committee noted a Press Release of 14 August 2009 and extracts from an information pack from the Department of Education regarding the recruitment of Education and Skills Authority Members.

(b) The Committee noted correspondence of 19 August 2009 from the Department of Education providing its comments on the OFMDFM Progress Report on Implementing the Gender Equality Strategy 2006-2008.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister with confirmation that there was no further comment from the Committee.

(c) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 10 August 2009 from the Minister of Education to the Committee for Social Development on the Housing (Amendment) Bill.

(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 1 September 2009 from the Department of Education advising that there is going to be a delay in the issue of the consultation document for the School Admissions (Exceptional Circumstances) Regulations (NI) 2010.

(e) The Committee noted correspondence of 26 August 2009 from St Comgall’s College Support Group requesting the Committee review the Economic Appraisal on the development proposal relating to the amalgamation of schools in the Glens and East Antrim Area within the context of the Minister of Education’s Area Based Planning Policy.

(f) The Committee noted correspondence of 3 September 2009 from the Department of Education regarding schools in capital planning.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to the Construction Industry Group for information.

(g) The Committee noted correspondence on 4 September 2009 from the Department of Education enclosing a copy of the first of two leaflets on Transfer 2010, which is being provided for parents by the Department.

(h) The Committee noted correspondence of 4 September 2009 from the Department of Education on the appointment of non-councillor ESA members.

(i) The Committee noted correspondence of 4 September 2009 from the Department of Education providing details of the amendments to the Education Bill which the Minister has agreed to bring forward.

The Chairperson requested that Matters Arising items considered by the Committee over the summer recess period should also be noted in the minutes of proceedings.

(j) The Committee noted correspondence of 30 June 2009 from Sentinus thanking the Chairperson for his support and involvement in Sentinus Young Innovators at the Odyssey Arena on 18 June 2009.

(k) The Committee noted correspondence of 1 July 2009 from Mr Alan O’Shea, St Comgall’s College Support Group providing an update on a freedom of information request with the Department of Education and requesting that the Committee commission its own critique of the CCMS Economic Appraisal.

(l) The Committee noted correspondence of 8 July 2009 from the Department of Education regarding St Comgall’s College, Larne.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department of Education’s letter to Mr Alan O’Shea, St Comgall’s Support Group for information and advise that as the ongoing work between the Department of Education and CCMS will be subject to Department of Finance and Personnel approval and the Committee does not consider it appropriate to take any further action on this at this time.

Mr Bradley left the meeting at 10.43am

(m) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 3 July 2009 from the Minister of Employment and Learning to Dr Anne Heaslett, Principal of Stranmillis University College regarding the college’s student number allocations for the 2009/10 academic year.

(n) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 3 July 2009 from the Minister of Education to Dr Anne Heaslett, Principal of Stranmillis University College on the allocation of initial teacher education places.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Minister of Education requesting clarification on what basis or empirical evidence she makes reference in her letter to ‘the growing need of the Irish-medium sector’.

Mr Bradley rejoined the meeting at 10.45am

(o) The Committee noted correspondence of 3 July 2009 from the Department of Education responding to issues raised by the Principal of Straid Primary School, Ballyclare regarding the ESA.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department of Education’s letter to the Principal of Straid Primary School for information.

(p) The Committee noted a Press Release of 7 July 2009 from Buddy Bear Trust entitled ‘Cross Border Option to be Explored with South’.

(q) The Committee noted a Press Release of 7 July 2009 from Buddy Bear Trust regarding the group’s attendance at a garden party at Áras an Uachtaráin hosted by President Mary McAleese.

(r) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 16 June 2009 from the Minister of Education to Mr Brendan McConville, Buddy Bear Trust responding to a request for a meeting to discuss support and assistance for pupils at the Buddy Bear School.

(s) The Committee noted copies of correspondence of 3 July 2009 from the Minister of Education to Mr Ian Collen and Mr James Murphy, German Teachers regarding the closure of the German Department at Queen’s University, Belfast.

Agreed – the Committee would write to Mr Collen and Mr Murphy to advise them that the Committee have noted the Minister’s response on this matter.

(t)The Committee noted correspondence of 20 July 2009 from the Department of Education on the Final Abstract from the Autism Bill.

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

(u) The Committee noted correspondence of 20 July 2009 from the Department of Education on home visits by Education Welfare Officers.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to Mrs Hannah Hughes, Armagh for information.

(v) The Committee noted correspondence of 22 July 2009 from the Department of Education on the Prince’s Trust XL Programme.

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

(w) The Committee noted correspondence of 22 July 2009 from the Department of Education regarding the re-employment of retired teachers.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to Mr Sam Keys for information.

(x) The Committee noted correspondence of 22 July 2009 from the Department of Education regarding Ballysally Primary School Nurturing Programme.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to the Principal of Ballysally Primary School for information.

(y) The Committee noted correspondence of 21 July 2009 from the Minister of Education to the Committee for Employment and Learning agreeing to a request for Department of Education officials to brief that Committee on the Review of the Teacher Demand Model.

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

(z) The Committee noted correspondence of 28 July 2009 from the Department of Education responding to matters raised by the Association of Early Childhood Education.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to the Association of Early Childhood Education for information.

(aa) The Committee noted correspondence of 28 July 2009 from the Department of Education responding to matters raised by NAHT on pre-school education.

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

(bb) The Committee noted correspondence of 28 July 2009 from the Department of Education responding to matters raised by Advice NI on the uptake of Free School Meals and Clothing Allowances.

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

(cc) The Committee noted correspondence of 28 July 2009 from the Department of Education responding to a paper prepared by the Northern Ireland Association of Mental Health (NIAMH) regarding the emotional health and well being of children and young people.

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

(dd) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 3 July 2009 from the Minister of Education to Mr Glenn Simpson regarding pension entitlement under voluntary redundancy arrangements.

(ee) The Committee noted correspondence of 28 July 2009 from the Department of Education forwarding a Summary of Consultation Responses to the Draft Teachers’ (Compensation for Redundancy and Premature Retirement) Regulations (NI) 2009 and complementing amendments to the Teachers’ Superannuation Regulations (NI) 1998.

(ff) The Committee noted an ‘Inspection and Improvement: Follow-up Inspections’ Report received on 28 July 2009 from the Education and Training Inspectorate.

(gg) The Committee noted correspondence of 27 July 2009 from the Minister of State for Northern Ireland regarding appointments to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

(hh) The Committee noted correspondence of 6 July 2009 from the Department of Education regarding information requested by the Committee on appointments to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to advise that in light of the correspondence of 27 July 2009 from the Minister of State providing the information requested, it will be unnecessary for the Department to progress this matter further.

(ii) The Committee noted correspondence of 30 July 2009 from the Department of Education providing an update on the community use of school premises in the context of Mr David McNarry’s Private Member’s Bill proposals.

Agreed – the Committee would forward a copy of the Department’s letter to Mr McNarry for information and suggest that Mr McNarry may wish to meet with the officials or the working group the Department have established on this. It was further agreed to seek an update from the Department on this in October/November.

(jj) The Committee noted correspondence of 3 August 2009 from the Department of Education on the condition of the mobiles at Lagan College and the delay in the progression of the development of new school buildings.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to Ms Alexandra Bell of Lagan College for information.

(kk) The Committee noted correspondence of 3 August 2009 from the Department of Education providing the additional information requested arising from the oral evidence session Department officials gave to the Committee for Health Social Services and Public Safety on the Obesity Inquiry.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety as requested

(ll) The Committee noted correspondence of 21 August 2009 from the Department of Education regarding an additional accommodation request from Our Lady and St Mochua’s Primary School, Derrynoose.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to the Principal of Our Lady and St Mochua’s Primary School and Mr Cathal Boylan MLA for information.

(mm) The Committee noted correspondence of 21 August 2009 from the Department of Education regarding the condition of the school building at Sacred Heart College, Omagh.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to the Principal of Sacred Heart College, Omagh for information.

(nn) The Committee noted correspondence of 15 June and 5 August 2009 from the Southern and Western Education and Library Boards seeking information on the Review of Special Educational Needs.

Agreed – the Committee would forward copies of the Boards’ letter to the Department of Education for a response to the issues raised.

(oo) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 20 August 2009 from the Minister of Education to the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure regarding the provision of Ulster Scots in the education sector.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure as requested.

(pp) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 10 August 2009 from the Minister of Education to the Committee for Social Development regarding the Housing (Amendment) Bill.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to Committee for Social Development.

(qq) The Committee noted correspondence of 24 August 2009 from the Department of Education on funding in respect of Global Dimensions in Schools NI.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s letter to Global Dimensions in Schools NI for information.

6. Correspondence

(a) The Committee noted an invitation from the Institute of Childcare Research, QUB to attend a Youth Development Study Dissemination Seminar on 21 September 2009 at QUB and a request for a Committee Member to make some opening remarks at the event.

(b) The Committee noted correspondence of 27 July 2009 from Mrs Gillian McCartney, Governor of Brooklands Primary School in Dundonald regarding the need for additional funding for Primary Schools.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Mrs McCartney’s letter to the Department of Education for comment on the issues raised and write to Mrs McCartney to advise of the Committee’s action.

(c) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 6 August 2009 from Mr Sean Rafferty, Principal of Holy Trinity College, Cookstown to the Department of Education’s Open Enrolment and Transfer Procedure Branch regarding the enrolment situation for 2009/2010 – Year 8 intake at the school.

A Member advised the Committee that the issue raised by Mr Rafferty had been resolved and did not require any further action by the Committee.

(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 12 August 2009 from Ms Ciara Trainer, Funtime Afterschool Leader, Jonesborough, Newry to the Deputy Chairperson regarding funding for this facility.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Ms Trainer’s letter to the Department of Education for comments on the issues raised and write to Mr Rafferty to advise of the Committee’s action.

(e) The Committee noted correspondence of 26 August 2009 from the Southern Education and Library Board enclosing a Report on Collaborative Arrangements between SELB and WELB.

(f) The Committee noted an invitation from Inside Government to a seminar on Creating a Fairer Northern Ireland for All to be held on 24 November 2009 in Belfast.

(g) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 19 August 2009 from Mr Basil McCrea MLA to the Minister for Education regarding the allocation of children to primary schools in rural areas. Mr McCrea asked Members for their support in relation to addressing the policy ‘flaw’ as well as the case he has highlighted.

Agreed - Members of the Committee discussed and expressed concerns with the policy surrounding the case highlighted by Mr McCrea and agreed that on receipt of a reply from the Minister that they would look at the policy issues involved.

(h) The Committee noted an invitation from NEELB to attend an evening of celebration to recognise the achievement of the Education Service of the past 36 years being hosted by AELBS on 4 December 2009 in the Waterfront Hall, Belfast.

(i) The Committee noted correspondence of 6 August 2009 from the Committee for Finance and Personnel forwarding a consultation document from the Department of Finance and Personnel on Northern Ireland Multi-Deprevation Measure 2009 and seeking the Committee’s views.

The Chairperson requested that items of correspondence considered by the Committee over the Summer Recess period should also be noted in the minutes of proceedings.

(j) The Committee noted the End of Year Delivery Report for 1 April 2008 to 31 March 2009 on the Northern Ireland Executive’s Programme for Government 2008 - 2011 received on 1 July 2009 from the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

(k) The Committee noted correspondence of 1 July 2009 from the Education and Training Inspectorate detailing the Evaluation Reports published by ETI during the month of June.

(l) The Committee noted correspondence of 2 July 2009 from Business in the Community enclosing a Ten Year Review of the Time to Read Programme.

(m) The Committee noted correspondence of 6 July 2009 from NAHT requesting an opportunity for the Nursery Sector Committee of the NAHT to address the Committee for Education on the future of pre-school education.

Agreed – The Committee would write to NAHT to advise that they would consider this request further when it receives the draft Early Years 0 – 6 Strategy from the Department of Education.

(n) The Committee noted correspondence of 1 July 2009 from GTCNI enclosing a Review of the Pilot Professional Development Bursary Programme.

(o) The Committee noted correspondence of 8 July 2009 from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister requesting the Committee’s view on the OFMDFM Progress Report covering the period 2006 – 20008 on Implementing the Gender Equality Strategy.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister’s letter to the Department of Education for a response to the issues raised.

(p) The Committee noted correspondence of 17 July 2009 from the Education and Training Inspectorate enclosing the ETI Annual Business Report 2008 – 2009.

(q) The Committee noted correspondence of 24 July from the Ulster Farmers’ Union stating its support for the SDLP’s proposal for a pilot study to develop federated schools.

(r) The Committee noted correspondence of 16 July 2009 from the Acting Chair of the Parents Autism Lobby, Mr David Heatley requesting an opportunity to meet with the Committee to discuss current and future provision for Autistic Spectrum Disorder in Northern Ireland.

Agreed – the Committee would write to Mr Healtey to advise that it would consider his request further when discussing the Committee Forward Work Programme.

(s) The Committee noted an invitation from the Frank Buttle Trust to a lecture and reception entitled ‘How to Repair the World’s Financial and Economic System’ to be held in the Long Gallery on 12 October 2009.

(t) The Committee noted the Summer 2009 edition of the Quarterly News sheet from Advice NI.

(u) The Committee noted correspondence of 10 August 2009 from the Institution of Engineering and Technology regarding the progress of the publication of the Department of Education’s STEM Review.

Agreed – the Committee would forward IET’s letter to the Department of Education and request an update on this matter.

(v) The Committee noted correspondence of 15 August 2009 from the Northern Ireland Scout Council (NISC) on behalf of the Uniformed Youth Organisations on the way forward for the Youth Service in Northern Ireland.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the NISC to advise that the Committee noted its recommendations and that the Committee would consider its offer to meet with the Committee when discussing its forward work programme.

(w) The Committee noted correspondence of 21 August 2009 from NASUWT requesting an opportunity to meet with the Committee to discuss its recent partnership in the American Federation of Teachers Civic Voices Programme.

Agreed – the Committee would write to NASUWT to advise that it would consider its offer to meet with the Committee when discussing its forward work programme.

7. Education Bill – Clause by Clause Scrutiny

The Committee continued with its clause-by-clause scrutiny of the Bill, consideration of the first draft of the Committee’s Report and review of some key issues discussed prior to the summer recess.

Agreed – the Committee would adopt its Draft Report in its present form as a working document with additional items and amendments emerging from each meeting being tracked for Members’ information.

Department of Education officials, Chris Stewart and Eve Stewart joined the Committee to assist with its clause-by-clause scrutiny of the Bill.

(a) Education Bill Report Appendices

The Committee noted Appendix 1: Minutes of Proceedings, Appendix 3: Written Submissions, Appendix 4: Other Correspondence and Written Evidence considered by the Committee, and Appendix 5: List of Witnesses and agreed to review these Appendices with a view to approving them for inclusion in the Report at next week’s meeting.

(b) Membership of the ESA

Members discussed the recruitment of members of the Board of the ESA, the number of Members of that Board and the remuneration the positions attract. Officials confirmed that there was no change in the Minister’s position than that stated in her letter of 5 August 2009; that is, she continues to examine this issue and will advise the Committee on this as soon as possible.

Officials agreed to come back to the Committee with further information regarding the remuneration level for Board members.

(c) Community Representation of ESA Board

Members discussed the subject of membership of the ESA in terms of as far as practicable, the group of appointees being representative of the community in Northern Ireland.

Officials were provided with a copy of the correspondence of 27 July 2009 from the Minister of State regarding appointments to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and they agreed to respond to the approach outlined in this correspondence.

The Committee considered a draft letter from the Chairperson to the Minister of Education responding to her letter of 5 August 2009, requesting the Minister’s position on the inclusion of an amendment in Schedule 1 Paragraph 2 to address the issue of community representation and that the current membership of the Board proposed in the Bill should be amended to increase the number of members.

Agreed – the Committee agreed to forward this letter to the Minister with the understanding that the suggested inclusion of amendments are proposals, and not the endorsed position of the Committee.

(d) Regulations for ESA Local Committees

The Committee considered the draft wording for an amendment to Schedule 1 paragraph 8 inserting an enabling provision for Regulations on Local Committees of the ESA.

Agreed – the Committee agreed to include a paragraph on this issue in the Chairperson’s letter to the Minister for response.

(e) Employment Regulations

The Committee noted that the Minister confirmed in correspondence of 5 August 2009 her agreement to insert an enabling power for regulations to be made on model schemes of employment and guidance on employment schemes.

Members considered a draft paragraph for inclusion in the letter to the Minister welcoming the Minister’s agreement on this enabling provision and asking the Minister to signal her intention on the timescale of the Regulations.

(f) Clause 12(1) – Modification of Employment Law and Clause 50(1) – Supplementary, incidental, consequential, transitional provisions etc

The Committee discussed whether the Committee should recommend that the power to make orders within both clauses should be made subject to draft affirmative procedure and whether to request the replication of the consultation requirements in Clause 12(1), as in Clause 50(1).

(g) Byelaws under Clause 15(5)

The Committee discussed Clause 15 in relation to provisions of ESA to make Byelaws and it was agreed that it should be raised with the Department whether or not Clause 15 should make express provision for the creation of offences and expressly set out the limits penalties for offences similar to that of section 7(2) of the Libraries Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 and Section 7 (3) to (8) of that Act.

The Chairperson thanked the officials for their assistance and they left the meeting at 12.43pm.

Agreed – The Committee would write to the Department of Education to remind them of any actions agreed.

Agreed – the Committee would hold an additional meeting of the Committee on Thursday, 10 September 2009 to continue with the Committee’s clause-by-clause scrutiny of the Bill.

8. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The Committee noted that the next meeting of the Committee would be held on Thursday, 10 September 2009 at 9.00am, Room 21, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.44pm.

Mr Mervyn Storey
Chairperson, Committee for Education
16 September 2009

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