Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 13 October 2010

Venue: Room 21, Parliament Buildings

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

Mrs M Bradley, Mr J O’Dowd and Mrs M O’Neill arrived at 2.03pm

The meeting moved into public session at 2.15pm.

1. Apologies

Apologies as above.

2. Minutes of the Meeting of 6 October 2010

Agreed – the Committee approved an amendment to the draft minutes, and the draft minutes of the meeting of 6 October 2010 as amended.

3. Matters Arising

(a) The Committee noted correspondence from Mrs H Martin regarding a school transfer issue.

Agreed – The Committee would write to Mrs Martin regarding appropriate authorisation for the Committee’s proposed course of action.

(b) The Committee noted the Clerk’s note to Members and attached draft documents regarding the provision of specialist budgetary advice to the Committee.

Agreed – the Committee approved the approach described in the Clerk’s note subject to any Member wishing to raise an issue with the Clerk doing so by Friday lunchtime, 15 October 2010.

(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 11 October 2010 from the Principal of Enniskillen Nursery School arising out of a Committee evidence session on the Department of Education’s draft Early Years (0-6) Strategy.

Agreed – The Committee would reply indicating that the Committee had noted her concerns and thanking her for her invitation to visit her school which the Committee would consider again when reviewing its forward work programme.

(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 6 October 2010 from the Department of Education on the work of the Department’s Equality and All Ireland Directorate.

(e) The Committee noted correspondence of 5 October 2010 from the Integrated Education Fund (IEF) responding to the Department of Education’s comments on IEF’s position paper entitled ‘There’s nothing progressive about spending money on segregated education’.

(f) The Committee noted correspondence of 8 October 2010 from the Department of Education on data security.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s correspondence to Mrs L Saunders for information.

(g) The Committee noted correspondence of 8 October 2010 from the Department of Education on the criteria and process used to assess applications for minor works schemes.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Department’s correspondence to each Education and Library Board requesting them to list their outstanding minor works where, for example, urgent Health & Safety work is required to address an identified risk.

(h) The Committee noted correspondence of 12 October 2010 from the Department of Education responding to Budget issues raised in the Committee’s correspondence of 3 and 11 June 2010.

(i) The Committee noted correspondence of 13 October 2010 from the Department of Education enclosing the Minister of Education’s reply to the Chairperson of the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure on guidance to school governors relating to the provision of Ulster Scots in schools.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Minister’s reply to the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure.

(j) The Committee noted correspondence of 13 October 2010 from the Department of Education enclosing the Minister of Education’s reply to the Chairperson of the Committee for Employment and Learning regarding bus passes for children attending more than one school.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the Minister’s reply to the Committee for Employment and Learning.

4. Correspondence

(a) The Committee noted correspondence from Children in Northern Ireland enclosing a copy of their Newsletter.

(b) The Committee noted correspondence of 6 October 2010 from Save the Children enclosing information on their policy briefing entitled ‘Better Odds at School Campaign: Targeted investment to help close the educational attainment gap’.

(c) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 6 October 2010 entitled ‘Creativity and innovation in children lays the groundwork for their future development – Ruane’.

(d) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 7 October 2010 entitled ‘St Mary’s College opens doors to new generation’.

(e) The Committee noted correspondence of the 7 October 2010 from the Clerk to the Committee for the Office of the First and deputy First Minister enclosing a copy extract on the Department of Education from the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland Investing Activity Report.

(f) The Committee noted an invitation of 6 October 2010 from Global Dimensions in School NI to attend a seminar on GDSNI at Edgehill College, Belfast on 1 November 2010.

(g) The Committee noted an invitation from the Assembly’s External Liaison Unit to meet with teachers from Iraq in Parliament Buildings on 15 October 2010.

(h) The Committee noted correspondence of 7 October 2010 from the Scout Association on behalf of the Voluntary Sector Residential Provider’s Group enclosing a copy of a briefing paper entitled ‘Highlighting Voluntary Sector Residential Provision and comparing the funding of Voluntary and Statutory Residential Centres’ and requesting an opportunity to meet with Committee to discuss this Report.

Agreed – the Committee would take a presentation from this Group

(i) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 8 October 2010 entitled ‘Hard Work + Dedication = Playtime!’

(j) The Committee noted an invitation of 11 October 2010 from the Engineering Policy Group Northern Ireland to attend a STEM Strategy Event at Queens University, Belfast on 25 October 2010.

(k) The Committee noted an invitation from the United Kingdom Delegation to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to attend a seminar entitled ‘Enhancing the Growth Potential’ in Paris on 2 November 2010.

(l) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 11 October 2010 entitled ‘Minister opens refurbished YMCA in Derry’.

(m) The Committee noted an invitation of the 12 October from the Assembly’s Education Services inviting Members to participate in a video conference with pupils from Glengormley High School on the subject of ‘Vertical Registration’.

Agreed – Members would endeavour to make themselves available to participate in this event when a date was confirmed.

(n) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 12 October 2010 entitled ‘Contract investigation in South Eastern Education and Library Board’.

(o) The Committee noted correspondence of 28 September 2010 from Mrs G Topping, Principal of Derriaghy Primary School on the proposed closure of Derriaghy Primary School.

(p) The Committee noted correspondence of 8 October 2010 from Mr S Goudie, Chief Inspector of the Education and Training Inspectorate enclosing a copy of the Chief Inspectors Report (2008-2010).

(q) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 13 October 2010 entitled ‘Good progress in local education but major challenges remain – Chief Inspector’.

(r) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 13 October 2010 entitled ‘Magical Maths’.

(s) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 13 October 2010 entitled ‘Education Minister welcomes improvements in education’.

5. Presentation from the Association of School & College Leaders (ASCL) & the NAHT Post-Primary Committee on the Education budget in the context of Budget 2010

Frank Cassidy, past President of ASCL, Scott Naismith, Executive Member of ASCL, Ivan Arbuthnot, past President of NAHT and James Jackson Weir, Member of the NI Committee for NAHT joined the meeting at 2.25 pm.

The witnesses provided a presentation on how schools might cope with the impact of further reductions in budgets in the context of Budget 2010 and answered Members’ questions. Issues discussed included: facing up to the fact that we have too many schools; duplication of in-service training provision and sufficient freedom of choice in selecting providers; coordination and cooperation in arranging training across Area Learning Partnerships; whether there were ‘unaffordables’ among the pressures facing schools; small schools ‘withering on the vine’ and the burden of declining pupil numbers; the need to prioritise and address the over-provision within the school estate; the Entitlement Framework and the 2013 target date for implementation; the cost effectiveness of small class sizes; the tension between the range of subjects valued by universities and those required by the Entitlement Framework; the need for larger schools vocational courses in schools (business/entrepreneurial/retail qualifications) which provide options for pupils not aiming for universities or the traditional ‘trades’; whether there should be some reduction in the range of university courses offered; the dropout rate from universities and whether teaching prepared pupils for the independent study required at university; whether FE provision was targeted too much at adults; the specific problem with attainment levels in literacy identified in the Chief Inspector’s Report 2008-10; the impact of the ‘jigsaw of reform’ including the Entitlement Framework and the Revised Curriculum; the significance of school ownership, single sector planning, individual school campaigns against closure and the removal of enhanced redundancy terms and the impact on the need to address school rationalisation; the benefits of increased flexibility with staffing contracts and staff deployment; inadequate means-testing of Education Maintenance Allowance; early retired teachers returning as substitute teachers and the impact on newly qualified teachers; problems with current mechanisms for dealing with poor teacher performance, resulting delays and prolonged disputes, and the impact which this has on pupils; whether there is a need for a rebalancing of pupils’ rights and teachers’ rights in that context; the Principal’s right to observe class teaching to enable issues of poor teacher performance to be addressed; transport costs, Translink and alternatives; arrangements for assessing health and safety risks and comparison with H&S standards applicable to buildings in other public/private sectors.

Mr J McCallister joined the meeting at 3.05 pm

Mr B McCrea joined the meeting at 3.15 pm

Mr J O’Dowd left the meeting at 3.20 pm

Mrs M O’Neill left the meeting at 3.45 pm

The witnesses left the meeting at 4.03 pm.

Agreed – The Committee would write to the Committee for Employment and Learning to draw the Committee’s attention to the witnesses’ comments on means-testing of Education Maintenance Allowance and problems with the effectiveness of current arrangements.

Mr B McCrea left the meeting at 4.03 pm

6. Forward Work Programme

Agreed – the Committee would request an oral and written briefing from the Education and Library Boards on options available to them to better manage any reductions in budgets.

Agreed – the Committee would request a written briefing the Department of Education on the operation of the Assessment of Relative Need (ARN) formula for the funding of Education and Library Boards.

Agreed – the Committee would request an oral and written briefing from the Chief Inspector on his 2008-2010 Report.

Agreed – the Committee, subject to agreeing Terms of Reference, would launch its Inquiry into ‘Successful Schools Serving Disadvantaged Communities’ on 3 November 2010, to include key themes identified to date, including effective school leadership, school engagement with pupils’ parents and the wider community and the higher levels of underachievement among boys in deprived areas, particularly boys from the Protestant community.

Agreed – the Committee would consider Members’ suggested agenda items for a Committee Meeting session which would facilitate Members’ discussion of education issues.

The Committee noted and agreed the amended Forward Work Programme.

7. Any Other Business
8. Date of the next meeting

The next Committee meeting will be held on Wednesday 20 October 2010 at 2.00pm in Room 21, Parliament Building.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 4.15 pm.

Mr Mervyn Storey
Chairperson, Committee for Education
20 October 2010

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