Minutes of Proceedings
Date: 21 April 2010
Venue: Room 21, Parliament Buildings
The Chairperson opened the meeting at 2.07pm in public session.
Apologies are detailed above.
2. Minutes of the Meeting of 14 April 2010
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 14 April 2010.
3. Matters Arising
(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 12 April 2010 from the Department of Education on February 2010 Outturn and Forecast Outturn for 2009/10 to DFP for DE.
(b) The Committee noted correspondence from Omagh County and Loreto Convent Primary Schools to the Minister of Education on the Schools’ Community Relations Programme.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education and request that it be copied in on the Minister’s response to Omagh County and Loreto Convent Primary Schools.
(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 13 April 2010 from the Department of Education on the investigation of child protection allegations against school staff.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education and request when the Working Group to which the Minister referred will complete its Review and for a written update on its findings and recommendations in due course..
(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 16 April 2010 from the Department of Education on the Review of Special Educational Needs and Inclusion.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Education and Library Board taking the lead on the EQIA in relation to the ‘Provisional Criteria for the Assessment of Special Educational Needs for making Statements of SEN’ and requesting that the Committee be provided a copy of the EQIA Consultation Report once the consultation commences.
Mr J O’Dowd joined the meeting at 2.12pm.
(a) The Committee noted correspondence received on 13 April 2010 from the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association enclosing a copy of their ‘Programme for Prosperity – NIRTA’s Economic Programme for Government’.
(b) The Committee noted copy correspondence received on 15 April 2010 from Mr B Magill to Mr N Anderson, Acting Chief Executive of the CCEA, regarding a Freedom of Information request.
(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 15 April 2010 from Ms C McConnell regarding education provision for her children.
Agreed – the Committee would forward Ms McConnell’s letter to the Department of Education for clarification on the issues raised.
(d) The Committee noted an invitation of 14 April 2010 from INTO to attend the Vere Foster Lecture at the Linenhall Library, Belfast on 12 May 210.
(e) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 15 April 2010 entitled ‘GAA has a vital role in our community – Ruane’.
(f) The Committee noted correspondence of 31 March from Mr J Taylor regarding a collection of Books entitled ‘Little Angel Creative’.
Agreed – the Committee would write to Mr Taylor to advise him of the process which the Department of Education have previously indicated operates in relation to educational resources used in schools.
(g) The Committee noted correspondence of 16 April 2010 from the Clerk to the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister regarding Hansard records of briefings on European Issues.
(h) The Committee noted correspondence of 16 April 2010 from the Clerk to the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister on the Draft Sustainable Development Strategy.
(i) The Committee noted correspondence of 16 April 2010 from the Clerk of the Committee for Finance and Personnel on the Performance and Efficiency Unit.
Agreed – the Committee would forward the Committee for Finance and Personnel correspondence to the Department for a response on the issue raised.
(j) The Committee noted correspondence of 16 April 2010 from the Clerk to the Finance and Personnel Committee on In-year Monitoring Guidelines.
Agreed – the Committee would forward a track changes version of the guidelines in relation to engagement with Departmental Assembly Committees, with suggested changes, for consideration by the Committee for Finance and Personnel.
(k) The Committee noted correspondence of 19 April 2010 from the Clerk to the Environment Committee regarding responses to a consultation on proposed amendment of the Regulations governing the Local Government Pension Scheme in relation to Classroom Assistants..
Agreed – the Committee would forward the Committee for Environment’s correspondence to the Department of Education for comment on the issues raised.
(l)The Committee noted an invitation of 19 April 2010 from Barnardo’s Northern Ireland to attend a briefing on the ‘Incredible Years Parenting Programme’ in the Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings on 17 May 2010.
(m) The Committee correspondence of 14 April 2010 from Sport Northern Ireland enclosing a copy of a ‘Baseline Survey of Timetabled PE in Primary Schools in Northern Ireland – 2009’.
Agreed – the Committee would forward this correspondence and Baseline Survey to the Department of Education for its comments on the issues raised.
(n) The Committee noted correspondence of 21 April 2010 from Rev T Gribben, enclosing a copy of a statement by the Education Spokespersons of Church of Ireland, Presbyterian Church in Ireland and the Methodist Church in Ireland responding to comments made by Mr Martin McGuinness in an article in the Belfast Telegraph..
Agreed – the Committee would seek clarification, via the Committee for the Office of the First and deputy First Minister, whether the article was written by Mr McGuinness in his capacity as deputy First Minister.
(o) The Committee noted a Department of Education Press Release of 21 April 2010 entitled ‘Ruane congratulates GAA and IFA on delivery of primary schools’ sports initiative’.
(p) The Chairperson reported to the Committee that he was aware that SEELB was consulting in relation to proposed new structures around the role of the Boards’ Teachers’ Appointments Committee.
Agreed - The Committee would write to the SEELB to request clarification in relation to the proposals on which the SEELB is consulting, including the process and timescale.
Ms M O’Neill joined the meeting at 2.26pm.
5. Department of Education briefing update on the Education Budget 2010/11 Spending Plans
John McGrath, Deputy Secretary and Catherine Daly, Head of Finance joined the meeting at 2.28pm.
The officials provided a briefing on the updated position of the Department on the Education Budget for 2010/11 Spending Plans pending the Minister of Education’s Budget announcement mid-afternoon and answered questions from Members on a number of issues, including: whether the spending plans had protected the ‘front line service delivery – ie the classroom’; the cost to date and future role of ESAIT ; funding for sectoral bodies and a controlled sector ‘Holding Body’; the increase in direct funding to schools of 1.9% in 2010/11 compared to 5.3% in 2009/10; whether all education NDPBs would face reductions in budgets comparable to those facing the E&LBs; the budget for the new Community Relations Strategy; the Minister’s decision on Prep Department Funding; the extension of Free School Meals entitlement criteria; the cut in planned spending on C2K; the Review of Capital Projects, when the results of the Review would be known and the money available to start new builds in 2010/11 and uncertainty thereafter; whether any school builds post-dating the burning down of Whitehouse Primary School had been approved; the teachers’ 2.3% pay increase for 2010/11 compared to the increased funding to schools of 1.9% and the impact of inflationary increases; the budgets for the Entitlement Framework, Premature Retirement of Teachers; the Extended Schools Programme and capacity building to take forward the Review of SEN and Inclusion.
Mr J McCallister joined the meeting at 2.37pm.
Mr J McCallister left the meeting at 2.45pm.
The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 3.21pm.
6. Forward Work Programme
The Committee noted and agreed the amended Forward Work Programme.
7. Any Other Business
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 3.24pm.