Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 02 February 2011

Venue: ST PIUS X COLLEGE, MAGHERAFELT

The Chairperson opened the meeting at 10.40am in public session.

1. Apologies

As above.

2. Minutes of the Meetings of 25 and 26 January 2011

Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meetings of 25 and 26 January 2011.

3. Matters Arising

The Committee noted copy correspondence of 25 January 2011 from the Clerk Assistant to the BBC regarding television coverage on the BBC’s Democracy Live of Committee meetings.

The Committee noted correspondence of 25 January 2011 from Minister of Education regarding the 2010 Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General on Financial Auditing and Reporting.

The Committee noted correspondence of 26 January 2011 from the Department of Education enclosing a briefing on the results of PISA 2009.

Agreed – The Committee would commission an oral briefing from the Department of Education on the results of PISA 2009.
Agreed – The Committee would commission an oral briefing from the Department of Education on the results of PISA 2009.
Agreed – The Committee would share this written briefing with the schools presenting to Committee later in the meeting and place it on the Committee’s web pages.

The Committee noted correspondence of 27 January 2011 from the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development enclosing a NI Assembly Research paper entitled ‘Education issues for rural development in Northern Ireland’.
Agreed – the Committee would forward the key points from the research paper to the Department for comment and to ask what initiatives, policies or programmes they have in place that contribute to rural sustainability.

The Committee noted copy correspondence of 20 January 2011 from the Minister of Education on the Committee’s Inquiry ‘Successful Post-Primary Schools Serving Disadvantaged Communities’.

The Committee noted correspondence of 31 January 2011 from the Department of Education on the Community Impact of School Closures and Coordination with Other Departments

The Committee noted correspondence of 31 January 2011 from the Department of Education on how grades D and E at GCSE compare with grade C in terms of pupils’ capablilities in literacy and numeracy.
Agreed – The Committee would commission an oral briefing from the Department of Education on the comparability of GCSE grades and this would be taken alongside the oral briefing on the results of PISA 2009.
Agreed – The Committee would share this correspondence and earlier correspondence on this subject with the schools presenting to Committee later in the meeting and place all on the Committee’s web pages.

The Committee noted correspondence of 31 January 2011 to the Minister of Education and to the OFMDFM Committee enclosing the Portfolio of Advice prepared by the Education Advisory Panel to the Cross Party Education Group examining transfer to post-primary schools policy.

The Committee noted correspondence of 31 January 2011 from the Department of Education on the delay in the appointment of the Department’s Governors to the Boards of Voluntary Grammar Schools.
Agreed – The Committee would write to the Department requesting a list of schools where the Department’s appointments have not been completed and the anticipated timescale for completion of the appointments process.

The Committee noted correspondence of 1 February 2011 from the Department of Education regarding the Autism Bill.

The Committee noted correspondence of 1 February 2011 from the Chairperson of the All Party Assembly Group on Autism regarding the removal of clauses 1(2) and 3(5) of the Autism Bill.
Agreed – The Chairperson of the Committee would meet the Chairperson of the Health Committee to discuss the Autism Bill.

The Committee noted correspondence of 31 January 2011 from Early Years – the organisation for young children - responding to correspondence the Committee received from NAHT (NI), Nursery Education Committee.

The Committee noted copy correspondence of 1 February 2011 from the Minister of Education to the Speaker of the Assembly enclosing a Written Ministerial Statement on the ‘Outcome of the Chemistry A Level Marking Investigation’.

Mr J O’Dowd joined the meeting at 10.54 am.

4. Correspondence

The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 26 January 2011 entitled ‘EQIA consultation on funding for Transfer interviews commences’. 
Agreed – the Committee agreed to seek legal advice on the Department’s consultation in light of the earlier proposal in the DE Draft Budget and the DE decision in November 2010 (Circular 2010/12) on the timing of Transfer interviews in 2011.

The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 27 January 2011 entitled ‘Education Minister commends Women’s Aid training for teachers’.

The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 27 January 2011 entitled ‘Attendance at grant-aided primary, post-primary and special schools 2009/10: Summary Statistics’.

The Committee noted correspondence of 27 January 2011 from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister on the draft Sustainable Development Implementation Plan.

5. Presentation from St Pius X College on the Committee Inquiry – ‘Successful Post-Primary Schools in Disadvantaged Areas’.

Monsignor C O’Byrne, Chair of the Board of Governors, Mary White, Principal, Edwina Toner, Vice-Principal and John Mulholland, Vice Principal joined the meeting at 11.00 am.

The witnesses provided a briefing on their school’s submission to the Committee’s Inquiry and answered questions on a number of issues including; whether drawing pupils from two different E&LBs posed any challenges; the NICCE proposals for schools in the area; links with feeder primary schools and effect on transition; the rural nature of the community served; when the school was rebuilt and the impact of modern facilities on pupil/staff morale; the impact of neighbouring schools on intake and whether St Pius X had any non-Catholic intake; banding of pupils by ability and access to vocational courses from year 12; the benefits of pupil mentoring by staff and former pupils; the proportion of male/female pupils in bottom band; obstacles to collaboration with other schools and whether collaboration delivered any financial savings; how pupils achievements and the value added by the school, other than formal qualifications, can be captured/reflected to prospective employers etc; the significance of parental involvement in pupils’ education and the challenges arising from single parent families; the different degrees of parental involvement as between the Controlled and Maintained sectors; the importance of catering to the needs of pupils who are not academically inclined and alternative pathways into further and higher education.

Mrs M Bradley joined the meeting at 11.45 am

The witnesses left the meeting at 12.15 pm.

6. Presentation from Ballycastle High School on the Committee Inquiry – ‘Successful Post-Primary Schools in Disadvantaged Areas’.

Ian Williamson, Principal, Carol Stewart, Vice-Principal, The Very Rev. Dr A W G Brown, Governor and Craig Whyte, parent Governor, joined the meeting at 12.16 pm.

The witnesses provided a briefing on their school’s submission to the Committee’s Inquiry and answered questions on a number of issues including: the key ingredient when meeting the needs of pupils facing challenges and difficulties; the impact of Ballycastle’s relative geographic isolation; the banding of pupils and the relatively small size of the school; how politicians can help school leaders; the necessity of some measures to quantify school success; the role of the Board of Governors and proposed changes to the role of governors; the effect of school infrastructure on what the school could offer pupils; the school’s close links with Cross & Passion College in Ballycastle and the positive contribution made to community relations and cohesion.

The witnesses left the meeting at 1.04 pm.

7. Presentation from Oakgrove Integrated College on the Committee Inquiry – ‘Successful Post-Primary Schools in Disadvantaged Areas’.

Jill Markham, Principal and John Harkin, Vice-Principal joined the meeting at 1.05 pm.

The witnesses provided a briefing on their school’s submission to the Committee’s Inquiry and answered questions on a number of issues including; how the College sources its counselling services; whether the school’s location has contributed to its success and the possible impact of proposed school development at Ebrington; the relative mix of pupils from urban/rural communities and how the school dealt with the impact on pupils of family breakdown; where the school drew its intake from in terms of school type/area; factors contributing to the school’s success/popularity and the contribution of pupils as ambassadors for the school; how the school identifies pupils who are ‘underaspiring’ on entry and target resources to address this; the ‘Anchor Project’ in WELB funded by DHSSPS which focussed on boys from single parent familes; relationship with and role of the College’s Board of Governors, including whether the Board held school leaders to account.

The witnesses left the meeting at 1.41pm.

8. Forward Work Programme

The Committee considered and agreed an amended forward work programme, including arrangements for its meeting on 9 February 2011 with key education stakeholders on the Department of Education’s Draft Budget 2011-2015.

9. Date and Time of Next Meeting

The next Committee meeting will be on Wednesday 9 February 2011 commencing at 2.00 pm in the Room 21, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.45 pm.

Mr Mervyn Storey
Chairperson, Committee for Education
9 February 2011

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