Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 23 June 2010

Venue: Room 21, Parliament Buildings

The Chairperson opened the meeting at 2.02pm in public session.

1. Apologies

Apologies as above.

2. Minutes of the Meeting of 9 June 2010

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 9 June 2010.

3. Matters Arising

(a) The Committee received a brief report back from Committee Members who visited the Bunscoil Bheann Madagháin IM School earlier that day.

Agreed – the Committee’s Press Release on the visit.

(b) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 22 June 2010 entitled ‘Statement from Education Minister’ on the Ministerial Statement regarding her Capital Review she had intended to make to the Assembly on 22 June 2010 and the written copy of the Statement received by the Committee.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department expressing its concern that the Statement was not made to the Assembly and the lateness in the arrival of the Statement with Committee, reminding Departmental officials of outstanding requests for clarification of the Review process and seeking further clarification regarding the priority for funding of the groups of ’13’ ‘ viable projects’ and ‘10 or so…new builds’ referred to in the written Statement.

Mr J McCallister joined the meeting at 2.15pm.

(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 7 June 2010 from Mrs L Saunders on data security issues.

(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 18 June 2010 from the Department of Education on the NI Data Protection Review and issues raised by Mrs L Saunders.

Agreed – the Committee would request a copy of the Department’s Internal Audit validation of the implementation of the Review’s recommendations;

Agreed – the Committee would request an oral briefing from Departmental officials to take stock of data protection/security generally and the key issues raised by Mrs Saunders;

Agreed – the Committee would forward Mrs Saunders’ correspondence of 7 June 2010 to the Department for comment.

Agreed – the Committee would forward a copy of the Department’s correspondence of 18 June 2010 to Mrs Saunders and advise her of the Committee’s request for an oral briefing.

(e) The Committee noted correspondence of 11 June 2010 from the Department of Education on Qualifications and Destinations of Northern Ireland School Leavers 2008/09.

(f) The Committee noted correspondence of 9 June 2010 from the Minister of Education agreeing to host a visit by the Committee of Education to Rathgael House.

Agreed – the Committee would write to thank the Minister of Education for agreeing to host a visit and the Clerk would liaise with Department officials to identify suitable dates for a visit in autumn 2010; the Committee would request that the visit include a briefing providing an overview of the Department and its work, including organisation structure and responsibilities.

(g) The Committee noted correspondence of 6 June 2010 from the Department of Education on the investigation of child protection allegations against school staff.

(h) The Committee noted correspondence of 17 June 2010 from the Department of Education on Community Schools.

(i) The Committee noted information leaflets from Ballysally Primary School and Holy Family Primary School on Nurture Education received in the course of Committee Members’ visits on 16 June 2010.

Agreed – the Chairperson of the Committee would write to thank Ballysally PS, Holy Family PS and St Dallan’s PS for hosting the Committee Members on their visits.

Agreed- The Committee would bring the subject of a Committee motion in the Assembly on Nurture Groups back to the Committee on its Autumn Work Programme.

(j) The Committee noted a draft letter from the Chairperson to the Minister of Education listing the concerns raised by Members regarding the draft Early Years Strategy following the briefing from Departmental officials at the Committee meeting on 9 June 2010.

Agreed - the Chairperson would write to the Minister of Education in the terms of the draft letter.

(k) The Committee noted a reminder invitation of 15 June 2010 from Volunteer Now to attend a Millennium Volunteers 10 th Anniversary event in Parliament Buildings on 21 June 2010.

Mr B McCrea joined the meeting at 2.27pm.

4. Correspondence

(a) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 10 June 2010 entitled ‘Over £2.0 billion spent on educational services in 2009-10’

(b) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 10 June 2010 entitled ‘Pupil: Teacher Ratios in grant-aided schools in Northern Ireland 2009/10’

(c) The Committee noted copy correspondence of 10 June 2010 from Mr D Bradley, MLA to the Minister of Education regarding the uncertainty about the level of ear-marked funding for the Curriculum Support Service of the Education and Library Boards.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Mr Bradley’s correspondence to the Department asking to be copied in on the Minister’s response.

(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 14 June 2010 from Mr R Mathers, Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta on the standard of accommodation in Bunscoil Bheann Mhadagáin.

Agreed – the Committee would forward to Mr Mathers the correspondence of 1 June 2010 from the Department of Education regarding accommodation issues at Bunscoil Bheann Mhadagáin.

(e) The Committee noted correspondence of 10 June 2010 from the Clerk to the Committee for Finance and Personnel on the September 2010, Monitoring Round and Budget 2010.

Agreed – the Committee would request a briefing from Departmental officials on Budget 2010 and the Department’s proposed spending plans.

(f) The Committee noted an invitation of 8 June 2010 from Sentinus (previously distributed to Members on 11 June 2010) to attend a Sentinus Young Innovators event in the Odyssey Arena on 21 June 2010.

(g) The Committee noted an invitation of 14 June 2010 from Dawn Purvis, MLA, Chair of the All Party Group on Children and Young People to meet with young people from Youth Councils from the WELB in Parliament Buildings on 30 June 2010.

(h) The Committee noted speaking notes received from Matthew Smyth, a pupil of Fleming Fulton School, on his experiences at the school.

(i) The Committee noted correspondence from the Belfast Education and Library Board enclosing a copy of an equality consultation questionnaire on the proposal to cease education provision in Grove Primary School from September 2010 or as soon as possible thereafter.

(j) The Committee noted correspondence of 27 May 2010 from Ms K Magill, Chief Executive of the Federation of Passenger Transport requesting an opportunity to present to the Committee on the issue of school transportation.

Agreed – the Committee would write to Ms Magill to advise her that the Committee would consider this request when it reviews its forward work programme for autumn 2010.

(k) The Committee noted correspondence of 17 June 2010 from the Department of Education on the Voluntary Grammar Schools Budget Statement – 2010/11.

(l) The Committee noted correspondence of 17 June 2010 from the Department of Education on Grant Maintained Integrated Schools Budget Statement – 2010/11.

(m) The Committee noted correspondence of 17 June 2010 from the Department of Education enclosing a copy of the consultation on the policy framework of ‘Teacher Education in a Climate of Change – The Way Forward’.

Agreed – the Committee would request a summary analysis of the consultation responses and proposed way forward in sufficient time to enable the Committee to comment on them prior to the Department finalising its policy position.

(n) The Committee noted an invitation of 16 June 2010 from the Big Telly Theatre Company to attend a celebration of the Golden gangs Intergenerational Project at Portstewart Minor Town Hall on 22 June 2010.

(o) The Committee noted an invitation of 15 June 2010 from Fearless (the new Crimestoppers brand for young people) to attend its launch at the Ulster Museum on 23 June 2010.

(p) The Committee noted an invitation of 17 June 2010 from Dawn Purvis, MLA, Chair of the All Party Group on Children and Young People to attend a seminar on Children’s Budgeting in Parliament Buildings on 24 June 2010.

(q) The Committee noted correspondence of 14 June 2010 from Federal Security on enhancing security for schools.

Agreed – the Committee would acknowledge this correspondence.

(r) The Committee noted correspondence from the GTCNI enclosing a copy of the summer 2010 issue of ‘Termtalk’.

(s) The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel of 15 June 2010 regarding its Report on the Preliminary Inquiry into Public Sector Efficiencies

(t) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 18 June 2010 entitled ‘Minister announces new Irish-medium nursery unit in Coalisland’.

(u) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 21 June 2010 entitled ‘Ruane applauds the Innovators of the Future’.

(v) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 21 June 2010 entitled ‘Education Minister briefs Principals on Transfer 2011’.

(w) The Committee noted correspondence of 18 June 2010 from Mr S Hughes on recent cutbacks in summer schemes for children with special educational needs.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Mr Hughes correspondence to the Department of Education and the SEELB for comment on the issues raised and advise Mr Hughes accordingly.

(x) The Committee noted copy correspondence of 17 June 2010 to Dr C Mangan, Head of Department for Special Education and Peripatetic Services at the WELB from Ms M McGale, Western Area Manager of Mencap regarding recent cutbacks in summer schemes for children with special educational needs.

Agreed – the Committee would write to Dr Mangan asking to be copied in on her response to Ms McGale and inform Ms McGale accordingly.

(y) The Committee noted an invitation of 22 June from SENAC to attend a conference entitled ‘Special Educational Needs: An Overview of Recent Developments in Education Policy, Law and Practice in Scotland and England’ in Queens University on 26 August 2010.

(z) The Committee noted copy correspondence of 8 June 2010 to the Minister of Education from Ms B McDade of Youth Link NI regarding cuts to the Community Relations budget.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department requesting that it be copied in on the Minister’s response to Ms McDade and advise Ms McDade accordingly.

(aa) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 22 June 2010 entitled ‘Education Minister opens new play area at Naíscoil Colmcille in Tyrone’

(bb) The Committee noted a Department of Education Media Notice of 22 June 2010 entitled ‘North South Ministerial Council – Education Sectoral Meeting.’

(cc) The Committee noted copy correspondence of 21 June 2010 to Arlene Foster, MLA from Rev B Kerr on redundancy procedures in the education sector.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Rev Kerr’s correspondence to the Department for comment on the issues raised.

(dd) The Committee noted a paper from Bunscoil Bheann Mhadagáin provided to Committee Members visiting the school on 23 June 2010.

5. Departmental Briefing on the Key Characteristics of Successful Post-Primary Schools Serving Disadvantaged Communities.

Dr Robson Davison, Deputy Secretary, Mrs Katrina Godfrey, Director of Curriculum, Qualifications and Standards, and Dr Chris Hughes, Head of Standards and Improvement Team, joined the meeting at 2.35 pm.

The officials provided a briefing on the Key Characteristics of Successful Post-Primary Schools Serving Disadvantaged Communities and answered Members questions on a number of issues, including: the quality of the policies in the Department’s policy framework and whether they provided a sound foundation; the focus of the School Improvement Policy; which of the Department’s four key characteristics would be the first priority; the effectiveness of self-evaluation and where responsibility lies when there is a problem with school leadership; the evidence of improved outcomes from the Achieving Belfast and Achieving Derry-Bright Futures initiatives; actions which build links with parents and communities and how success might be measured; Home-School Liaison Officers; Alternative Education Provision Review; funding for nurture groups; the timetable for publication of the Revised Literacy and Numeracy Strategy; what discussions DE officials have had with DEL regarding the DEL Committee’s Inquiry into NEETS.

Mr J O’Dowd left the meeting at 3.10 pm.

Mr D Hilditch left the meeting at 4.04 pm.

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 4.14 pm.

6. Presentation from Education and Training Inspectorate on the Key Characteristics of Successful Post-Primary Schools Serving Disadvantaged Communities.

Stanley Goudie, Chief Inspector, Faustina Graham, Assistant Chief Inspector of Primary and Post Primary Schools, Peter Geoghegan, Inspector of Post-Primary Education joined the meeting at 4.15 pm.

Miss M McIlveen left the meeting at 4.18pm.

The witnesses provided a presentation on the Key Characteristics of Successful Post-Primary Schools Serving Disadvantaged Communities and answered Members questions on a number of issues, including; a case-study presented by ETI which showed marked improvement in GCSE (and equivalent) attainment in a post-primary school with 33% Free School Meals entitlement; the frequency and types of ETI inspection, risk based analysis and how schools are prioritised for inspection; whether there is sufficient emphasis on school leadership and what can be done to improve the quality of school leaders including the Professional Qualification for Headship programme; what is involved in rigorous self-evaluation and school development planning and the tools and support which ETI offer schools; the relative importance in terms of raising standards of the Department’s policies on the one hand and effective school leaders on the other; whether staff were removed as part of improving attainment in the case study school and prioritising people skills when recruiting staff; the importance of literacy in accessing the rest of the curriculum; ETI District inspector and Associate Inspector liaison with practitioners in developing tools and ensuring ETI advice to schools is practical, including aids to self-evaluation; the paperwork burden on School Principals.

Mr D Hilditch rejoined the meeting at 4.50 pm.

Miss M McIlveen rejoined the meeting at 4.53 pm

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 5.09 pm.

Mr A Ross left the meeting at 5.10 pm.

7. Assembly Research and Library Services Briefing on the European Commission Work Programme 2010 – Education

Ms Jennifer Betts of Assembly Research and Library Services joined the meeting at 5.10pm and made a presentation to the Committee on the role of Assembly Research and Library Services in assisting Statutory Committees deal with those parts of the European Commission’s Work Programme which are relevant to the work of each Committee and provided the Committee for Education with the results of an initial screening of the European Commission’s 2010 Work Programme for issues relevant to education.

Agreed – The Committee would forward the Briefing Paper to the Department of Education for its comments on the items identified by the initial screening.

8. Any other Business
9. Forward Work Programme

The Committee noted and agreed the amended Forward Work Programme.

Agreed – The Committee would consider a briefing from Tom Hesketh of RTU in relation to the Review of the Professional Qualification for Headship in the context of a possible Committee Inquiry.

10. Date of the next meeting

The next Committee meeting will be held on Wednesday 30 June 2010 at 2.00pm in Room 21, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 5.17 pm.

Mr Mervyn Storey
Chairperson, Committee for Education
30 June 2010

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