Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 24 March 2010

Venue: Room 21, Parliament Buildings

The Deputy Chairperson opened the meeting at 2.01pm in closed session.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Preparatory Department Funding Legal Advice

Ms O’Neill joined the meeting at 2.02pm.

The Committee considered advice from Assembly Legal Services in relation to the Department’s proposal to withdraw funding from preparatory departments of grammar schools.

Mr O’Dowd joined the meeting at 2.09pm.

Mr McCallister joined the meeting at 2.10pm.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department to seek further information in relation to the proposal.

Agreed – the Committee would seek further clarification on an aspect of the legal advice.

The meeting moved into public session at 2.27pm.

Mr O’Dowd left the meeting at 2.27pm.

3. Minutes of the Meeting of 10 March 2010

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 10 March 2010.

4. Matters Arising

(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 15 March 2010 from the Department of Education responding to the findings of the Access Research Knowledge (ARK) ‘Kids’ Life and Times Survey’ and providing an update on its position in relation to the issue of bullying. The Committee also noted an Assembly research paper on ARK, information on OFMDFM’s website on the Children and Young People’s Unit, and information on the role of the Departmental Champions for Children and Young People.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister in relation to concerns raised by a Member on an aspect of the content of its ‘Big Bully’ publication.

(b) The Committee noted a paper from the Clerk on the NI Nurture Group Network proposed motion to the House.

Agreed – the Committee requested that the Clerk revisit the wording of the motion for further consideration by the Committee.

Agreed – the Committee would schedule a visit to a Nurture Group(s) in its Forward Work Programme.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Minister of Education on the issues faced by Nurture Groups and to ask whether consideration could be given to the maintenance of this service, particularly from 2011-2012. Additionally, in the context that Nurture Groups may have a role in the forthcoming DE Early Years 0-6 Strategy to ask the Minister for confirmation of when this Strategy will be made available to the Committee.

(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 9 March 2010 from the Minister of Education on the Committee’s formal response to the SEN and Inclusion Consultation.

(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 10 March 2010 from the Department of Education providing an update on the progress of the Irish-medium Review and its implementation.

Agreed – that the Committee would write to the Department of Education to request a full written briefing paper on the Review of Irish-medium, to include an analysis of consultation responses, information regarding changes made as a result of the consultation together with the final Review Report and progress on implementation. The Committee further agreed to request oral briefing on the Review once the Committee has had time to consider the written brief.

(e) The Committee noted correspondence of 12 March 2010 from the Department of Education responding to issues raised by Ms L Saunders regarding InCAS and data protection.

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

(f) The Committee noted correspondence of 12 March 2010 from the Department of Education responding to issues raised by Ms L Saunders on the Sparklebox website case and data protection matters relating to InCAS.

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

Agreed – the Committee agreed that further recent correspondence received from Ms Saunders regarding data security would be considered at the Committee’s next meeting.

Mr O’Dowd rejoined the meeting at 2.39pm.

(g) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 9 March 2010 from the Minister of Education to Parents’ Education as Autism Therapists (PEAT) regarding the Middletown Centre for Autism.

(h) The Committee noted correspondence of 9 March 2010 from the Minister of Education regarding a petition forwarded by the Committee on primary school under-funding.

(i) The Committee noted correspondence of 16 March 2010 from the Committee for Social Development enclosing a letter from the Department for Social Development on funding for the NI Nurture Group Network.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Committee for Social Development’s correspondence to NI Nurture Network for information.

(j) The Committee noted correspondence of 18 March 2010 from the Department of Education providing an update on the actions taken by the Department in response to the ‘Northern Ireland Teachers’ Health and Wellbeing Survey’ published in 2002.

(k) The Committee noted draft correspondence from the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety to the Minister of Education requesting that the Minister expedite and make a priority, the information she is preparing for the Department of Health and Social Services and Public Safety on the issue of institutional child abuse.

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

(l) The Committee noted an Assembly Research Paper it requested on ‘Independent Investigation Service in Wales to Address Abuse Accusations Against Teachers’.

Agreed – the Committee would forward this Research Paper to the Department of Education for its views on the merits of such a system of investigation.

(m) The Committee noted correspondence of 18 March 2010 from the Department of Education providing information on areas of co-operation that fall within the remit of the North South Ministerial Council in educational sectoral format.

(n) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 15 March 2010 from the Minister of Education to Mr K Devine, Chair of the Board of Governors regarding the condition of the existing buildings at St Teresa’s Primary School, Lurgan.

Agreed – the Committee would write again to the Department of Education to request a response to previous correspondence requesting information on the Minister’s Review of capital projects.

(o) The Committee noted correspondence of 16 March 2010 from South Eastern Education and Library Board regarding the yearly reduction in new statements by the SEELB.

(p) The Committee noted correspondence of 19 March from Mr A McClelland regarding the Committee’s formal response to the SEN and Inclusion Review Consultation.

5. Correspondence

(a) The Committee noted an invitation from Sentinus to attend ‘the Engineers Make it Happen Presentation Day’ at the Whitla Hall, QUB on 12 April 2010.

Agreed – Members would advise Committee staff if they wish to attend this event.

(b) The Committee noted an invitation from the Open University to attend the opening ceremony for the New National Centre for The Open University in Ireland in Victoria Street, Belfast on 29 April 2010.

Agreed – Members would advise Committee staff if they wish to attend this event.

(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 9 March 2010 from INTO on the Chair’s attendance at its recent Northern Conference.

(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 10 March 2010 from the Committee for Finance and Personnel on the subject of support for carers.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to request comment on DE provision and scope for additional provision of support for carers.

(e) The Committee noted the 2009 Annual Report for Advice NI.

(f) The Committee noted a Department of Education Press Release of 11 March 2010 entitled ‘Teachers should not tutor for breakaway tests – Ruane’.

(g) The Committee noted a Department of Education Press Release of 12 March 2010 entitled ‘Major investment reshapes the education landscape’.

(h) The Committee noted a Department of Education Press Release of 14 March 2010 on the Membership of the Education Bodies.

(i) The Committee noted correspondence of 12 March 2010 from Mrs M Estler on the funding of preparatory departments.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Ms Estler’s letter to the Department of Education for comment on the issues raised.

The Deputy Chairperson advised Members that the Department of Education has confirmed that officials will brief the Committee on the responses to the EQIA consultation on the proposed withdrawal of funding and proposed way forward at the next Committee meeting.

(j) The Committee noted correspondence of 5 March 2010 from Action for Children enclosing its response to the Review of Departmental Spending Plans 2010/2011.

(k) The Committee noted a Department of Education Press Release of 16 March 2010 entitled ‘Ruane approves new post-16 provision at Dromore High School’.

(l) The Committee noted a Department of Education Press Release of 16 March 2010 entitled ‘Minister announces closure of Balee Primary School’.

(m) The Committee noted correspondence of 12 March 2010 from Mr and Mrs J Walsh on the funding of preparatory departments.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Mr and Mrs Walsh’s letter to the Department of Education for comment on the issues raised.

(n) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 13 March 2010 from Mr and Mrs Pollaco to the Minister of Education on the funding of preparatory departments.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to request that it is copied the Minister’s response to Mr and Mrs Pollaco.

(o) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 12 March 2010 from Mr M Forde to the Minister of Education on the funding of preparatory departments.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to request that it is copied the Minister’s response to Mr Forde.

(p) The Committee noted correspondence of 15 March 2010 from Ms O Kirkpatrick on the funding of preparatory departments.

Agreed – the Committee would forward Ms Kirkpatrick’s letter to the Department of Education for comment on the issues raised.

(q) The Committee noted a Department of Education Press Release of 19 March 2010 entitled ‘Education can progress through co-operation – Ruane’.

(r) The Committee noted correspondence of 2 March 2010 from Ms S Burrowes Smyth on funding to preparatory departments.

(s) The Committee noted correspondence of 22 March 2010 from INTO commenting on the Teachers’ Premature Retirement Compensation Arrangements.

(t) The Committee noted a copy of correspondence of 16 March 2010 from Omagh Integrated Primary and Nursery School to the Minister of Education regarding a new school build.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to request that it is copied the Minister’s reply to Omagh Integrated Primary and Nursery School.

(u) The Committee noted a Department of Education Press Release of 22 March 2010 entitled ‘Minister signs design contract for the Lisanelly Shared Education Campus’.

(v) The Committee noted a Department of Education Press Release of 22 March 2010 entitled ‘Education Minister launches £2 million accommodation fund’.

Agreed – the Committee instructed the Clerk to seek advice (legal or otherwise) regarding the legal standing of the Minister’s decision to provide this funding and to write to the Department of Education to request further information on this in advance of the briefing session on the Review of Irish-medium Education.

(w) The Committee noted correspondence of 10 March 2010 from NAHT’s Nursery Education Committee highlighting its concern that the 0-6 Strategy for Children in Northern Ireland has still not been released.

Agreed – the Committee would forward NAHT’s letter to the Department of Education for a response to the issue raised.

(x) The Committee noted a Department of Education Press Release of 23 March 2010 entitled ‘Ruane opens new Irish-medium nursery unit in Derry’.

(y) The Committee noted a Department of Education Press Release of 23 March 2010 entitled ‘Ruane approves the establishment of an Irish-Medium Unit at St Joseph’s Grammar School, Donaghmore.

(z) The Committee noted a Department of Education Press Release of 24 March 2010 entitled ‘Education Minister launches toolkits for diversity’.

6. Draft Education (Levels of Progression for Key Stages 1, 2 and 3) (Transitional) Order (NI) 2010 – SL1 Stage

Department of Education senior officials, Katrina Godfrey, Head of Curriculum, Qualifications and Standards Directorate and Brian Morrow, Head of Assessment and Qualifications Team joined the meeting at 2.47pm.

The officials provided a short briefing on the Draft Education (Levels of Progression for Key Stages 1, 2 and 3) (Transitional) Order (NI) 2010 and answered questions from Members on a number of issues, including: whether the Department have taken cognisance of the developing Revised Literacy and Numeracy Strategy and whether this will be reflected in the transitional levels of attainment and progression proposed; when the transitional arrangements will commence and how long they will be in place.

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 2.55pm.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to advise that the Committee had no comment on the proposed Statutory Rule.

7. Presentation from Northern Ireland Commission for Catholic Education (NICCE) on the Post-Primary Education Review

Most Rev Bishop Donal McKeown, Chair of NICCE, Mr Gerry Lundy, Post-Primary Review Project Director and Mr Sean Rafferty, Post-Primary Education Advisor, joined the meeting at 2.57pm.

Mr McCrea joined the meeting at 3.21pm.

The witnesses provided briefing on NICCE’s Post-Primary Catholic Education Review and answered questions from Members on a number of issues, including: the questionable timeliness of the proposals in light of funding difficulties in relation to capital building projects and the length of time that is involved; the relationship with the Area Learning Communities and the implementation of the entitlement framework; collaboration between schools and the intention of the proposals including whether there has been genuine attempts at consultation with other sectors; whether the proposals reinforce segregation; the impact of the maintained sector moving away from academic selection; the practice of streaming pupils in non-selective schools; the professional development of teachers; the need to review transport policy and rural proofing; the importance of early intervention in raising standards; whether NICCE would be open to a proposal for a single Christian faith-based school system; consideration of community cohesion within the proposals; and the importance of parental choice and access to diversity within schools.

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 4.16pm.

Mr McCallister left the meeting at 4.16pm.

8. Department of Education Briefing on the outcome of the EQIA consultation on Draft Teachers’ (Compensation for Redundancy & Premature Retirement) Regulations (NI) 2010 and Draft Teachers’ Pensions (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2010

Mrs La’verne Montgomery, Head of Education Workforce Development Directorate and Mr Mark Mawhinney, Head of Teacher Negotiating and Pensions Policy Branch and Mr Seamus Gallagher, Teacher Negotiating and Pensions Policy Branch joined the meeting at 4.16pm.

The officials provided a briefing on the outcome of the formal consultation and follow-up EQIA consultation on the Draft Teachers’ (Compensation for Redundancy & Premature Retirement) Regulations (NI) 2010 and Draft Teachers’ Pensions (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2010 and answered questions from Members on a number of issues, including: employers ability to continue to fund the scheme; confirmation of the funding available in 2010/11 to assist employers in managing teachers’ redundancies; the numbers of teachers prematurely retired over the past 3 years and the number of and trend with voluntary redundancies; how many redundancies the £6 million available would allow; whether the Regulations would disproportionally adversely impact young females; and how the £6 million available will be distributed.

Ms O’Neill left the meeting at 4.41pm.

The Chairperson thanked the witnesses for an informative briefing and they left the meeting at 4.45pm.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to advise that the Committee had no further comment at this stage to the proposed Statutory Rules.

9. Forward Work Programme

The Committee noted and agreed the amended Forward Work Programme.

10. Any Other Business

None.

The Deputy Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 4.47pm.

Mr Mervyn Storey 
Chairperson, Committee for Education 
14 April 2010

Find Your MLA

tools-map.png

Locate your local MLA

Find MLA

News and Media Centre

tools-media.png

Read press releases, watch live and archived video

Find out more

Follow the Assembly

tools-social.png

Keep up to date with what’s happening at the Assem

Find out more

Contact information

tools-newsletter.png

Contact us for further information about our work.

Contact us