Minutes of Proceedings
Date: 29 September 2010
Venue: Room 21, Parliament Buildings
The Chairperson opened the meeting at 2.02 pm in public session.
Apologies as above. The Committee extended its best wishes to the Deputy Chairperson, Mr D Hilditch, following an operation, and welcomed back Mr D Bradley to Committee after a period of illness. The Committee also welcomed Mr Chris Sheils, a postgraduate student, who has joined the Committee staff for a nine month internship.
2. Minutes of the Meeting of 22 September 2010
Agreed – the Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting of 22 September 2010
3. Matters Arising
Agreed - The Committee approved for issue the draft press release regarding the Committee visit to the Boys’ Model School on 29 September 2010.
(a) The Committee noted correspondence of 22 September 2010 from the Department of Education on Braniel Primary School – Nursery Unit Development Proposal.
(b) The Committee noted correspondence of 21 September 2010 from the Minister of Education to the Chairperson of the Committee on the CCEA A level Chemistry A2 paper.
(c) The Committee noted correspondence of 24 September 2010 from the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure enclosing correspondence from its Chairperson to the Minister of Education on the Special Olympics Ulster.
Agreed – the Committee would forward this correspondence to the Minister.
(d) The Committee noted correspondence of 27 September 2010 from the Integrated Education Fund enclosing a copy of the Oxford Economics Scoping Paper entitled ‘Developing the Case for Shared Education’.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Integrated Education Fund to request a briefing from IEF and Oxford Economics once the ‘Review of Shared Education’ paper was also available.
(e) The Committee noted correspondence of 24 September 2010 from NICCY enclosing a copy of the Consultation Report on Transfer Process entitled ‘Talking Transfer’.
(a) The Committee noted an invitation of 23 September 2010 from Ms P Saunders, Deputy Director, Linen Hall Street Library to visit the Library.
(b) The Committee noted copy correspondence of 17 September 2010 from Mr E Patterson, Acting Chief Executive of Castlereagh Borough Council on the lack of representation with respect to the SEELB.
Agreed – the Committee would forward Mr Patterson’s letter to the Department for comment on the specific issue raised, including the position on the appointment of locally elected representatives to all E&LBs.
(c) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 24 September 2010 entitled ‘Education Minister agrees closure of Beechfield Primary School, Belfast’.
(d) The Committee noted a Department of education News Release of 24 September 2010 entitled ‘Education Minister marks distinguished career of Keady Principal’.
(e) The Committee noted correspondence of 27 September 2010 from the Clerk to the Central Committee Office on the date of publication of Members attendance at Committee meetings.
(f) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 28 September 2010 entitled ‘Ruane launches innovative Irish language study aid for Ní Ghráda play’
(g) The Committee noted a Department of Education News Release of 29 September 2010 entitled ‘Education Minister opens Women’s Aid Federation Annual General Meeting’.
5. Draft Early Years (0-6) Strategy – Briefing from NAHT Nursery Education Committee
Clare Majury, Chairperson, Emma Corry, Secretary and Susan Campbell, Member of NAHT Nursery Education Committee joined the meeting at 2.15 pm.
The witnesses provided a presentation on the Department of Education’s draft Early Years (0-6) Strategy and answered Members questions on a number of issues, including: the continuing split between early years education and child care and the lack of collaboration, integration and cohesion and whether Children’s Centres could address that issue; whether the EPPNI (Effective Provision of Preschool Education in Northern Ireland) study was still ongoing and whether this and other Government research was adequately taken into account in the draft Strategy; the impact of the Preschool Expansion Programme; how the draft Strategy deals with SureStart; comparison with other European early years provision and school starting ages and whether pre-school education should be made compulsory; the difference in terms of educational outcomes of no pre-school education, the adverse effects of poor quality pre-school provision and the beneficial ‘innoculative’ effects of high quality provision which enables pupils to achieve satisfactorily even in poor quality primary and post-primary settings; the integrated nature (in terms of community background) of nursery schools; whether the development of pre-school provision suggested a lack of planning and the potential for ‘centres of excellence’ to play a cost effective role in raising standards and professional development; whether there were any good points in the draft Strategy; the lack of in-service training for Nursery teachers and the lack of principal release time for Nursery Principals; the omission of pre-school education from the Foundation Stage in Northern Ireland whether this was a missed opportunity; why it had taken so long to develop the draft Strategy and what the witnesses would do differently in terms of consultation on the draft Strategy; the relative effectiveness of part-time and full-time per school places in Nursery Schools; and other bodies from whom the Committee might seek views on the draft Strategy.
The witnesses left the meeting at 3.45 pm.
6. Draft Early Years (0-6) Strategy - Presentation from Children in Northern Ireland (CiNI)
Pauline Leeson, Director of CiNI, Marie Cavanagh, Director, Gingerbread NI, Kyra Pauley of Footprints Women’s Centre and Joy Poots of Inner City SureStart joined the meeting at 3.46 pm.
The witnesses provided a presentation on the draft Early Years (0-6) Strategy and answered Members questions on a number of issues, including: the failure to invite CiNI representatives to the launch of the draft Strategy; how to identify the poorest children for SureStart and Pre-school resource allocation; the nature of the pre-school sectoral inequalities referred to in the briefing and how this should be addressed; the failure of the draft Strategy to adequately address home-based care and education, the role of SureStart, Mid-Wives, Health Visitors, play-based learning and 0-3 age range care and education provision generally; how the ‘Two Year Old’ programme works; and other bodies from whom the Committee might seek views on the draft Strategy.
The witnesses left the meeting at 5.05 pm.
Agreed – The Committee would write to the Department of Education listing the concerns expressed about the draft Strategy by today’s witnesses and ask that senior officials be prepared to address these concerns at the Committee’s meeting on 6 October 2010.
The Chair drew Members attention to Department of Education circular about a Research Seminar on EPPENI.
Agreed – The Clerk would circulate copies of the relevant papers to Members.
7. Forward Work Programme
The Chairperson proposed that the Committee have a session on Budget 2010 at its meeting on 13 October 2010 and that it requests a briefing from the Secondary Heads Association.
Agreed – The Clerk would liaise with the Secondary Heads Association and make the necessary arrangements.
8. Any Other Business
9. Date of the next meeting
The next Committee meeting will be held on Wednesday 6 October 2010 at 2.00pm in Room 21, Parliament Building.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 5.12 pm.