Minutes of Proceedings
Date: 17 November 2010
Venue: Room 21, Parliament Buildings
The Chairperson opened the meeting at 2.05 pm in closed session.
1. Legal Advice
The Committee considered legal advice from Assembly Legal Services on the Department’s arrangements for the appointment of local councillors to Education and Library Boards and on foot of that advice agreed to write to the Department of Education.
Agreed - The Committee would request legal advice regarding the Department of Education’s decision not to reconstitute the South Eastern Education and Library Board following the appointment of Commissioners in 2006.
Mr D Hilditch joined the meeting at 2.07 pm.
The meeting moved into public session at 2.09
Apologies as above.
3. Minutes of the Meeting of 10 November 2010
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 10 November 2010.
4. Matters Arising
The Committee noted correspondence of 9 November 2010 from the Department of Education enclosing a copy of the ‘Internal Audit Progress Report on Security of Data in ALBs and their Beneficiaries’.
Agreed – The Committee would write to the Department of Education to request copies of the Data Management sections (extended to capture beneficiaries) of the next Quarterly Assurance Statements from the accounting officers of the Department’s Arms Length Bodies (ALBs).
Agreed – The Committee would forward a copy of Internal Audit Progress Report, and the Committee’s letter to the Department, to Mrs L Saunders for information.
The Committee noted correspondence of 26 October 2010 from the SEELB on minor works schemes.
The Committee noted correspondence of 10 November 2010 from the SELB on minor works schemes.
The Committee noted a copy of the ETI Report entitled ‘Evaluation of the SureStart Programme for 2-Year-Olds’.
The Committee noted correspondence of 11 November 2010 from the Joint Consultative Forum – Education Sector, enclosing a copy Report of a Special Meeting of the Forum on 18 October 2010 re screening of E&LBs’ Resource Allocation Plans.
The Committee noted correspondence of 15 November 2010 from the Department of Education enclosing a synopsis of key issues for its presentation at the Committee’s Early Years (0-6) Strategy Event on 17 November 2010.
Agreed – The Clerk would prepare, for consideration at the Committee Meeting on 24 November 2010, draft wording for a Committee motion in the Assembly on the Department’s draft Early Years Strategy;
Agreed - Party Education Spokespersons on Committee would not speak at the Committee’s Early Years Strategy Event on 17 November 2010 in order to maximise the time for stakeholder discussion and in light of the Committee’s consideration of a Committee Motion in the Assembly on this subject.
The Committee noted correspondence of 17 November 2010 from the NEELB on minor works schemes.
The Committee noted correspondence of 10 November 2010 from Strictly Boardroom enclosing a research document entitled ‘does the appointment of board members bring added value to the governance of boards in the public and not for profit sectors?’.
Agreed – The Committee would consider this research when looking at effective school leadership in the context of its Inquiry into ‘Successful Schools Serving Disadvantaged Communities’.
The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 10 November 2010 entitled 'Education Minister welcomes science students to Stormont’.
The Committee noted correspondence of 9 November 2010 from Mr J McDermott, Pipeline Services regarding maintenance contracts in the BELB.
The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 11 November 2010 entitled ’Education Minister opens St Mary’s Primary School’.
The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 12 November 2010 entitled ‘All children deserve the best education – Ruane’.
The Committee noted copy correspondence of 11 November 2010 from Ms S Fitzpatrick,Chief Executive, Early Years Organisation to Ms F Turner, NAHT on early years provision.
The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 16 November 2010 entitled ‘Education Minister launches anti-bullying week’.
The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 16 November 2010 entitled ‘Education Minister celebrates with St Patrick’s & St Brigid’s Primary School, Ballycastle’.
6. Presentation on behalf of the Association of E&LBs’ Chief Executives on Education Budget 2010
Shane McCurdy, Chief Executive, NEELB, David Megaughin, Chief Finance Officer, BELB; Louise Ayling, Chief Finance Officer, SELB; Neil Craig – Chief Finance Officer, SEELB; and Stan McIvor, Assistant Chief Finance Officer, WELB, joined the meeting at 2.23 pm.
The witnesses provided a briefing on the Education Budget 2010 and 2010/11 and answered Members’ questions on a number of issues including: the various financial formulae use to allocate money within education, whether they disadvantaged certain E&LBs and whether a simpler formula could be found; whether splitting school budgets into staff costs and other running costs would address the issue of surpluses in some small schools; the retention and accessibility of surpluses through End Year Flexibility; the greater adverse impact generally of current funding formula on large post-primary schools; the effect on the partially reconstituted E&LBs’ decision making of the delayed and non-appointment of local council posts; the Convergence Delivery Plan, the commitment of CEOs and E&LBs to Convergence and the unresolved issues, particularly governance and accountability; whether savings from Convergence can be delivered and the costs involved in that ‘invest to save’; the staffing situation within E&LBs, the vacancy control policy, whether there were the resources to deliver Convergence and whether the current situation was sustainable; delays in the allocation by the Department of ‘ear-marked’ funding to E&LBs, the consequent uncertainty for programmes and risk of expenditure being categorised as ‘irregular spend’; the willingness of senior managers to work actively for Convergence; previous proposals that E&LBs could develop shared services to advance ESA; issues of accountability for delivery of converged services and discussions with the Department’s Accounting Officers about how these issues could be resolved; whether there had ever been a default in payment of ‘ear-marked funding’; the financial position of the E&LBs at the end of the 2009-10 financial year; sustainability surveys; E&LBs’ understanding of how the Department will prioritise capital projects;
Mr D Bradley joined the meeting at 2.31 pm.
Mr J Craig left the meeting at 2.45 pm.
Agreed – The Committee would remind the Department of the Committee’s outstanding request for a written briefing on the ARN (Assessment of Relative Needs) funding formula.
Agreed – The Committee would request from NEELB a paper on how it prioritises capital schemes at E&LB level.
Mr B McCrea joined the meeting at 3.50 pm.
Agreed – The Committee would request a paper from BELB on its arrangements for procuring capital projects such as the Boys’ and Girls’ Model schools (Strategic Partnership Approach), and Grosvenor Grammar School – the latter’s official opening was today and the Chairperson congratulated the school.
Agreed – the Committee would request an update briefing from the Department on Budget 2010 and progress towards Convergence.
The witnesses left the meeting at 3.53pm.
7. Forward Work Programme
The Committee noted and agreed the Forward Work Programme including the amended speaking arrangements for the Committee’s Early Years Event.
8. Date of the next meeting
The next Committee meeting will be held on Wednesday 24 November 2010 at 2.00pm in Room 21, Parliament Building.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 3.55pm.