Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 12 May 2010

Venue: Room 21, Parliament Buildings

The Chairperson opened the meeting at 2.07pm in public session.

1. Apologies

Apologies as above.

2. Minutes of the Meeting of 28 April 2010

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 28 April 2010.

3. Matters Arising

The Committee noted correspondence of 29 April 2010 from the Department of Education acknowledging the Committee’s correspondence on Community Use of School Premises.

The Committee noted correspondence of 30 April 2010 from the Department of Education on Prompt Payment Performance.

The Committee noted correspondence of 30 April 2010 from Mr P MCafferty on the re-employment of retired teachers.

The Committee noted correspondence of 30 April 2010 from the Department of Education on Data Security and Transfer 2010 and Data Protection.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s correspondence of 
30 April 2010 to Ms L Saunders.

The Committee noted correspondence of 30April 2010 from the Clerk to the Committee for Employment and Learning on the STEM Review Report Implementation.

The Committee noted correspondence of 23 April 2010 from Engineering UK promoting engineering and technology.

The Committee noted a written Ministerial Statement from the Minister of Education regarding the Sparklebox Teacher Resource Website.

The Committee noted correspondence of 4 May 2010 from the Department of Education on ‘Gifted and Talented’ children.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s correspondence of 
4 May 2010 to Ms C McConnell.

The Committee noted copy correspondence of 28 April 2010 to the Minister of Education from Mr A Bradshaw, Chairman of the Board of Governors of Omagh Integrated Primary School enclosing a full Survey Condition Report of the school’s accommodation.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking to be copied in on the Minister’s response to Mr Bradshaw.

The Committee noted correspondence of 4 May 2010 from the Department of Education on the Local Government Pension Scheme Regulations regarding Classroom Assistants.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s correspondence of 
4 May 2010 to the Committee for the Environment together with a copy of the correspondence from NIPSA at (k) below.

The Committee noted correspondence of 4 May 2010 from Ms A Millar, Deputy General Secretary of NIPSA on the Local Government Pension Scheme Regulations – proposed amendment regarding Classroom Assistants.

Agreed – The Committee would forward Ms Millar’s letter to the Department for its comments on the issues raised, highlighting some particular issues.

The Committee noted correspondence of 26 April 2010 from the Chairperson of the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety (Health Committee) regarding PE in schools enclosing copy correspondence from the Minister of Education.

Agreed – The Chairperson would write to the Chairperson of the Health Committee to advise him that the Committee for Education was awaiting the outcome of a meeting between Sport NI and Departmental officials and enclosed the Department of Education’s interim response of 5 May 2010.

The Committee noted correspondence of 4 May 2010 from the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure (CAL Committee) regarding the Sports NI Baseline Survey of Timetabled PE in Primary Schools in Northern Ireland.

Agreed – The Committee would write to the CAL Committee advising it that the Committee for Education had considered the Baseline Survey and enclosing copy correspondence from the Minister for Education and interim response of 5 May 2010 from the Department of Education in relation to PE in schools.

The Committee noted an interim response of 5 May 2010 from the Department of Education to the Committee’s letter of 22 April 2010 on the NI Baseline Survey of Timetabled PE in Primary Schools in Northern Ireland.

Agreed – The Committee would forward the Department’s correspondence to Sport NI for information.

Agreed – The Committee would write to the Chief Inspector of the ETI regarding the fact that only 17% of those surveyed delivered 2 hours of PE or more per week.

The Committee noted correspondence of 7 May 2010 from the Department of Education on the C2K and ICT Review.

The Committee noted correspondence of 11 May 2010 from the Department of Education on funding of the ICAN Early Years Centre, Ballynahinch.

Agreed – The Committee would forward the Department’s letter to the staff at the ICAN Centre who had raised this issue with the Committee for their information.

The Committee noted correspondence of 11 May 2010 from Mr S D McConkey, Principal of Whitehouse Primary School and Nursery Unit forwarding the petition letter and associated correspondence to be handed over to the Committee regarding the delay in the rebuilding of Whitehouse Primary School and Nursery Unit.

The Committee noted correspondence of 12 May 2010 from the Department of Education on Whitehouse Primary and Nursery Unit.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s correspondence of 12 May 2010 to some individual parents who had written to the Committee regarding Whitehouse Primary School and Nursery Unit and the Principal of the School.

The Committee noted correspondence of 18 March 2010 from the Department of Education regarding the education budget on the contractual arrangements entered into by the Department of Education in anticipation of the establishment of ESA.

Mr J O’Dowd joined the meeting at 2.16pm.

4. Correspondence

The Committee noted an invitation of 20 April 2010 from The Frank Buttle Trust to attend an event to celebrate the work of The Frank Buttle Trust at 3i’s Winter Garden Room, London on 30 June 2010.

The Committee noted correspondence of 28 April 2010 from Mr K Wilson on Whitehouse Primary and Nursery School

Agreed – the Committee would forward a copy of the Department’s letter of 12 May 2010 on this subject to Mr Wilson.

The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 4 May 2010 entitled ‘Ruane Announces Additional Nursery Provision in Dungannon’.

The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 4 May 2010 entitled ‘Ruane Announces New Nursery Provision in Lurgan’.

The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 4 May 2010 entitled ‘Education Minister makes Statement to Assembly on Sparklebox’.

The Committee noted copy correspondence from Mr and Mrs Dudgeon to the Minister of Education requesting information on Whitehouse Primary and Nursery School under the Freedom of Information Act.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department and request to be copied in on the Minister’s response to Mr & Mrs Dudgeon.

The Committee noted correspondence of 4 May 2010 from Ms M Crilly on the availability of nursery provision in the Belfast area.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Ms Crilly’s correspondence to the Department for comment on the issues raised and in particular the parameters used by the Department in assessing whether or not there is sufficient nursery provision in a particular area.

The Committee noted copy correspondence to the Chairperson from Mr N Elliot, Centre Manager of the Field Studies Council, Derrygonnelly, received on 3 May 2010, regarding outdoor environmental education programmes.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Mr Elliot’s correspondence to the Department for comment on their position regarding the funding and supporting of outdoor environmental education programmes and the provision of curriculum linked fieldwork opportunities for schools.

The Committee noted correspondence of 23 April 2010 from Mr P Smyth, Director, Public Achievement regarding the effect of cuts to the funding for Community Relations on the work of Public Achievement.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Mr Smyth’s correspondence to the Department for comment on the issues raised and in particular how this cut will impact on the Community Relations and Youth sector in overall terms, including the role of E&LB’s in Community Relations programmes.

The Committee noted an invitation received on 5 May 2010 from Early Years to attend their International Conference and Early Years AGM 2010 at the Slieve Donard Hotel, Newcastle on 11 June 2010.

The Committee noted an invitation of 4 May 2010 from Bryson Charitable Group to attend ‘A Presentation of Positive Destinations’ in the Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings on 8 June 2010.

The Committee noted an invitation of 6 May 2010 to visit the Linen Hall Library.

The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 7 May 2010 entitled ‘Importance of early years provision highlighted’.

The Committee noted copy correspondence of 7 May 2010 from Ms A Dawson to the Minister of Education regarding Whitehouse Primary and Nursery School.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Ms Dawson’s letter to the Department requesting to be copied in on the Minister’s response to Ms Dawson.

The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 11 May 2010 entitled ‘Education Minister launches student speaking forum’.

The Committee noted correspondence of 11 May 2010 from Mr J McCallister, MLA regarding his letter of 11 May 2010 to the SELB on concerns in progressing a Special Educational Needs case.

The Committee noted Participation Network’s Newsletter – April/May 2010.

The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 12 May 2010 entitled ‘Additional governors appointed to Crumlin College’.

5. Any Other Business

The Chairperson raised the issue of unavailability of nursery provision in certain areas and the effect of admissions criteria for pre-school places including ‘social disadvantage’. Another Member indicated that there seemed to be a mis-match in supply and demand within particular areas.

Agreed - The Committee would write to the Department of Education requesting an analysis, across the five Education and Library Boards of the availability of nursery provision, the incidence of places being oversubscribed or undersubscribed, places not filled and places filled by children who would not be old enough to enter Primary School the following September.

Mr T Lunn left the meeting at 2.27pm

6. Department of Education briefing update on the Convergence Delivery Plan

John McGrath, Deputy Secretary and Eugene Rooney, Director of Planning and Performance Management joined the meeting at 2.27 pm.

Mr T Lunn rejoined the meeting at 2.46pm.
Ms M O’Neill left the meeting at 2.48pm.

The officials provided an update briefing on the Convergence Delivery Plan and answered Members questions on a number of issues, including: whether the Business Plan referred to in the briefing paper was a ‘Business Case’ for Ministerial approval and who would have the final say on the Business Plan; progress on the reconstitution of the Education and Library Boards and when this would be completed; the need to review vacancy control policy; concerns expressed by NEELB regarding accountability under Convergence arrangements and whether CEOs of the E&LBs had sought meetings regarding any concerns around Convergence; whether a risk analysis has been carried out; whether the Executive’s agreement to the introduction of the Education Bill could be regarded as authority for proceeding with Convergence; arrangements for consultation on the Business Plan and Service Delivery Plans, equality screening and EQIAs; whether the five E&LBs could be reduced to a single E&LB under existing legislation; impact of Convergence on CCMS; the level of frustration across the education sector; progress on the ‘Policy Implementation’ strand of the Convergence Plan, including the terms of reference for individual policy implementation groups; the amount of money available for capital projects in 2010/11, commencing new projects and effect of PPP school builds completing in 2010/11; and the specific criteria being applied in the current Capital Review.

Miss M McIlveen joined the meeting at 3.25pm. 
Ms M O’Neill rejoined the meeting at 3.26pm.

Agreed – the Committee requested to be kept informed on the ongoing work on the Convergence Business Plan and the emerging Service Delivery Plans as soon as they are available.

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 3.37pm.

7. Assembly Research Presentation on Possible Committee Inquiry

Assembly Research provided a briefing on a scoping paper for a possible Committee Inquiry into ‘Successful Secondary Schools – which have succeeded in raising standards and/or maintaining good standards in the face of social and/or economic deprivation’ and answered Members questions on a number of issues.

Agreed – The Committee would request a visit to and an informal meeting with senior Departmental officials at the Department’s Rathgael House Headquarters to further scope a possible Committee Inquiry on this subject.

Agreed – The Assembly Research scoping paper would be placed on the Committee’s web pages.

8. Forward Work Programme

The Committee noted that at next week’s meeting there would be policy briefings from Departmental officials on the Review of Irish Medium Education and Future Assessment Arrangements to Support the Revised Curriculum.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 3.56pm.

____________________________________
Mr Mervyn Storey
Chairperson, Committee for Education
19 May 2010

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