Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 07 September 2011

Venue: Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings

The meeting commenced at 10.34 am in open session.

The Committee noted the tabled items.

Chairperson’s Business

The Chairperson reported to the Committee on his meeting with representatives of the CBI.

Agreed : the Committee would invite the CBI to the next appropriate stakeholder event.

The Chairperson informed the Committee that the One School of Thought group wished to present a letter to the Committee at 1.00pm today in the Great Hall and all Committee Members were welcome to attend.

The Chairperson expressed the Committee’s sympathy to the family and colleagues of Mr Frank Bunting who died recently after many years’ service with the INTO. Mr Bunting had been a witness in front of the previous Committee for Education on several occasions.

The Chairperson expressed the Committee congratulations and best wishes to all those pupils who had recently received their A level and GCSE results.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Draft Minutes of 29 June 2011

The Committee approved the minutes of the 29 June 2011.

3. Matters Arising

a. The Committee noted correspondence of 29 June 2011 from the Department of Education regarding the funding of Nurture Groups by the Department of Education.

b. The Committee noted correspondence of 30 June 2011 from the Department of Education enclosing Entitlement Framework data tables.

c. The Committee noted correspondence of 30 June 2011 from the Department of Education enclosing a briefing paper on the issues affecting teacher training provision in Northern Ireland.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department for its comments on the impact on pupils of having a series of different substitute teachers during the year and the reduction of a quarter in recruitment combined with a projected rise in pupil numbers and ask that this issue be considered in the development of the draft Strategy and Action Plan.

d. The Committee noted correspondence of 1 July 2011 from the Department of Education regarding Budget 2011-15.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department to clarify any differential increment percentages as between DE employees and E&LB employees.

e. The Committee noted correspondence of 1 July 2011 from the NEELB regarding the impact on children of being allowed an additional year of pre-school and starting school a year later.

Agreed – the Committee would consider all the papers on this issue at next week’s meeting.

f. The Committee noted correspondence of 4 July 2011 from the Department of Education regarding the closure of Vere Foster Primary School.

g. The Committee noted correspondence of 5 July 2011 from the Department of Education regarding the Middletown Centre for Autism.

Agreed – the Committee would consider the papers from the 2007-11 Committee for Education and review the Department’s position on the Middletown Centre as well as consider visiting the Centre.

Agreed - The Committee would write to the Department seeking clarification on the impact of the Autism Act on provision, and on how the Department, its arm’s length bodies and the Health Trusts liaise with the various Autism groups active in Northern Ireland.

h. The Committee noted copy correspondence of 5 July 2011 from the Department of Education on the school census statistics and pupil teacher ratios.

Agreed – The Committee would write to the Department to request clarification on the extent to which the Department uses statistics and other information to make projections for planning purposes, specifically in relation to projections relating to pupil-teacher ratios, and the Committee’s preference for the effective use of projections as a planning tool.

i. The Committee noted correspondence of 6 July 2011 from the Department of Education enclosing a copy of the Minister for Education’s response of 5 July 2011 to Mr B McCrea, Chairperson of the Committee for Employment and Learning on the Agency Workers Directive.

j. The Committee noted a Research and Information Service briefing note entitled ‘School transport for pupils with Special Educational Needs’.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department to:

  • ask whether it had any plans to review Home to School Transport policy, which a number of Members regarded as outdated;
  • ask what measures were in place to monitor that relevant health and safety arrangements in relation to school transport were actually operating “at the school gate”;
  • ask for details of how the procurement and contractual arrangements with school transport providers ensured that the service health and safety standards were complied with and monitored.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Committee for the Environment to inform it of the Committee for Education’s interest in this area and express a wish to be kept informed of the work of the Committee for the Environment relating to health and safety issues affecting school transport.

k. The Committee noted copy correspondence of 7 July 2011from the Department of Education to the Committee for Employment and Learning on the process of determining the levels of intakes to Initial Teacher Education (ITE).

l. The Committee noted correspondence of 8 July 2011 from the Department of Education regarding a programme for sensory processing difficulties.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking it to provide a paper which explained what sensory processing disorder is, or what sensory processing difficulties are.

m. The Committee noted correspondence of 8 July 2011 from the Chairperson of the Committee for OFMdFM regarding actions arising from the European issues event on 20 June 2011.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to request details of its actions in light of the Executive’s European Priorities paper.

n. The Committee noted correspondence of 14 July 2011 from Mr G Boyd, Acting Chief Executive of CEA regarding CCEA expenses.

o. The Committee noted correspondence of 19 July from the Committee for OFMdFM enclosing a copy of the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland Investing Activity Report for the Department of Education - July 2011.

p. The Committee noted correspondence of 19 July 2011 from the Minister for Education regarding the issue of pupils who required medication in school, such as those with diabetes, and their participation in school activities.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to request a periodic report on the progress being made by the Departmental officials in their work with the ELBs and relevant stakeholders in resolving these issues and to inform the Department that the feedback reaching some Committee Members was that the Guidance was not ‘percolating down’.

Agreed – the Committee ask the DHSSPS Minister, via the DHSSPS Committee, whether he would be willing to review the Guidance “Supporting Pupils with Medication Needs” and advising that the Minister of Education has indicated that he would be agreeable to a review.

q. The Committee noted copy correspondence of 20 July 2011 from Mr B Magill to Mrs P Rolleston, Information Officer for CCEA regarding a Freedom of Information request on CCEA expenses.

Agreed – the Committee would write to Mr Magill to acknowledge receipt of this correspondence.

r. The Committee noted copy correspondence of 20 July 2011 from Mr B Magill to H Clarke, Complaints Co-ordinator for CCEA regarding a Freedom of Information request on CCEA expenses.

Agreed – the Committee would write to Mr Magill to acknowledge receipt of this correspondence.

s. The Committee noted correspondence of 21 July 2011 from the Department of Education regarding the education of sustainability in schools.

Agreed – the Committee would write to Downpatrick Soroptimist International enclosing a copy of the Department’s correspondence.

t. The Committee noted correspondence of 22 July 2011 from the Department of Education regarding procurement modernisation action plans.

Agreed –the Committee would consider these documents in conjunction with the planned further research briefing paper on education procurement practices in other jurisdictions.

u. The Committee noted correspondence of 15 August 2011 from the Department of Education regarding the Committee inquiry into ‘Successful Post-Primary Schools Serving Disadvantaged Communities’ and the Report of Dawn Purvis.

Agreed – the Committee would schedule a dedicated Committee session to inform its consideration of the Department’s response to these Reports and invite Dawn Purvis to give evidence in relation to the Department’s response to her Report.

v. The Committee noted correspondence of 15 August 2011 from the Department of Education on admissions to pre-school education.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department to ask when it expects its review of pre-school admissions policy will enable it to report back to the Committee, including on the some 700 parents who did not participate in the second stage of the admissions process;

Agreed – in relation to the Department’s liaising with DHSSPS the Committee would write to ask DE for details of:

  • the number of meetings held with DHSSPS counterparts,
  • the targets they have set in terms of effective/more effective collaboration,
  • the measures they have put in place to achieve those targets; and,
  • how progress towards the targets will be measured.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the First and deputy First Ministers, via the OFMDFM Committee, to ask about the status of the Ministerial Sub-Committee for Children and Young People and its Sub-Group on Early Years.

Agreed – the Committee would commission Assembly Research to prepare a paper to provide detailed information on the projected number of children who will be in their final pre-school year each September, and how the lack of statistical data at a local level could be addressed and the additional resources, if any, necessary to do so.

w. The Committee noted correspondence of 22 August 2011 from the Committee for OFMdFM enclosing a copy of the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland Investing Activity Report for the Department of Education – August 2011.

x. The Committee noted correspondence of 15 August 2011 from the Shared Education Learning Forum regarding the Shared Education conference on 28 September 2011 at 9.00am in the Hilton Hotel, Templepatrick.

Agreed – that a paper providing detailed information on the Committee’s attendance at this event would be circulated in the coming weeks.

y. The Committee noted correspondence of 18 August 2011 from the Department of Education regarding changes to the common funding scheme 2011-12.

Agreed – That the Committee would explore how the planned changes would impact on schools, particularly at a time of budget constraint, during the planned evidence session on 21 September 2011.

z. The Committee noted correspondence of 30 August from the Department of Education enclosing a response to issues raised by the Committee following the Department’s budget briefing on 22 June 2011.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department to seek an assurance that ELBs will be able to achieve the required savings, within the specific areas where they are required to achieve those savings, as set out in the final Resource Allocation Plans.

aa. The Committee noted correspondence of 30 August 2011 from energy efficient lighting regarding cost cutting measures.

bb. The Committee noted copy correspondence of 31 August from the Minister for Education to Mr M Langhammer regarding school starting age.

Agreed – the Committee would bring this correspondence back to Committee for consideration when all the other relevant information is available at the planned Committee session on school starting age.

cc. The Committee noted a draft letter from the Committee to the Department in relation to cross-border providers of school transport.

Agreed – the draft was approved and would be amended to incorporate the actions agreed at sub-paragraph 3j above.

4. July Correspondence

a. The Committee noted correspondence of 29 June 2011 from Sustrans regarding its “Free Range Kids” campaign.

b. The Committee noted copy correspondence of 29 June 2011 from the Association of Principal Teachers in Integrated Schools (APTIS) to the Minister of Education regarding budget cuts.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Minister to request a copy of his response to APTIS.

c. The Committee noted copy correspondence of 29 June 2011 from Omagh Learning Community to the Minister of Education regarding budget cuts.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Minister to request a copy of his response to Omagh Learning Community.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department to request an update on the status of the Loreto litigation and its significance for the development at Lisanelly.

d. The Committee noted correspondence of 28 June 2011 from Down District Council regarding the “Lack of Democratic Representation – South Eastern Education and Library Board”.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Minister to request details of the outcome of any meeting, or any correspondence, he has had with the Council, and for his views on the issues raised in the Council’s letter.

e. The Committee noted correspondence of 5 July 2011 on behalf of New Life Counselling requesting an opportunity to brief the Committee.

Agreed: the Committee would add New Life Counselling to the list of organisations to be invited to the next appropriate Committee stakeholder event.

Agreed – the Committee would consider at next week’s meeting a list of all groups wishing to meet with the Committee.

Agreed – the Clerk would write to all stakeholders asking them to provide a short written summary of what they wish to brief the Committee about.

f. The Committee noted correspondence of 1 July 2011 from the NI Association for Mental Health (NIAMH) thanking the Committee, enclosing information and offering to host a Committee meeting.

Agreed: the Committee would add NIAMH to the list of organisations to be invited to the next appropriate Committee stakeholder event.

g. The Committee noted correspondence of 1 July 2011 from the Field Studies Council regarding “out of classroom learning” and proposing a Committee visit.

Agreed: the Committee would add the Field Studies Council to the list of organisations to be invited to the next appropriate Committee stakeholder event.

Agreed – The Clerk would explore the options arising from the invitations received from the Field Studies Council and NIAMH (at point f. above).

h. The Committee noted briefing materials received from NICCY on 14 July 2011regarding NEETS, following on from the Chairperson’s meeting with NICCY.

i. The Committee noted correspondence of 14 July 2011 from the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations (NCPTA) regarding the opportunity to present to the Committee.

Agreed: the Committee would add NCPTA to the list of organisations to be invited to the next appropriate Committee stakeholder event.

j. The Committee noted correspondence of 28 July 2011 from Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland enclosing its report on Youth Diversion.

k. Subject to the matters specifically agreed below, Members noted the following conferences, invitations and meeting requests:

  • BBC – invitation to illustrated talk “Hello Schools” on 7 July 2011.
  • Northern Ireland Teachers Council – invitation to Teaching with Pride event on 26 July 2011.
  • Children in Northern Ireland (CiNI) – invitation to public seminar on “Improving Children’s Lives: Outcomes, Partnership and Planning” on 14 September 2011.

Employers for Childcare – invitation to the launch of “Childcare for All?” research report on 6 September 2011.

l. Members noted the following publications:

  • Committee Members’ declarations of interest received from the Committee for Standards and Privileges.
  • E&LBs/Staff Commission for E&LBs – Revised Equality Schemes & Audit of Inequalities.
  • CCMS – Consultation on revised Equality Scheme.
  • Sustrans – Annual Review 2010.
  • Consumer Council – report entitled “Price of Being Poor”.

m. Members noted the following press releases previously emailed to Members:

  • All funding must be maximised – O’Dowd;
  • O’Dowd thanks all staff as school year draws to a close;
  • O’Dowd highlights work to integrate newcomer children;
  • Appointment of members to the Education and Library Boards;
  • Youth clubs a vital party of young people’s learning and development – O’Dowd;
  • Minister agrees closure of Connor House preparatory school, Bangor;
  • Education Minister agrees to the closure of Braid primary school;
  • Minister agrees closure of Lourdes primary school, Whitehead;
5. August Correspondence

a. The Committee noted correspondence from Ms H Martin thanking the Committee.

b. The Committee noted correspondence of 1 June from the Clerk of the Committee for Finance and Personnel regarding the devolution of corporation tax.

c. The Committee noted correspondence of 4 August 2011 from the NAHT regarding a request to brief the Committee on nursery education.

Agreed – the Committee would add the NAHT Nursery Education Committee to the list of organisations to be invited to the next appropriate Committee stakeholder event.

d. The Committee noted correspondence of 8 August from the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland regarding concerns with C2K.

Agreed - the Committee would forward this correspondence to the Department of Education to ask for its comments on the issues raised by the Grand Orange Lodge; to ask what other organisations are unable to be accessed through C2K; to ask whether the Department or C2K hold a register of such organisations; to request a copy of the criteria C2K used to block access, or place organisations on any such register, and details of any appeals mechanism where access to an organisation’s website has been blocked.

Agreed – the Committee would add the Orange Order to the list of organisations to be invited to the next appropriate Committee stakeholder event.

e. The Committee noted correspondence of 11 August 2011 from NICCY regarding the launch of the 2011 Participation Awards.

f. The Committee noted correspondence of 15 August 2011 from PEAT regarding budget concerns.

Agreed - The Committee would write to the Minister for Finance and Personnel asking to be copied in on his response to PEAT. The Committee also agreed to ask that the Minister forward his response to the Department of Education.

g. The Committee noted correspondence of 5 July and 1 September 2011 from Mrs L. M. Allen, Principal, Howard Primary School regarding concerns over disabled access to classrooms together with the Chairperson’s letter to the Minister of Education on this issue during summer recess.

h. The Committee noted correspondence of 26 August 2011 from the Staff Commission for Education and Library Boards enclosing responses to the Boards/Staff Commission’s Equality Schemes and inviting the Committee to the Joint Consultative Forum on 20 October 2011.

i. Subject to the matters specifically agreed below, Members noted the following conferences, invitations and meeting requests

  • Playboard - invitation to advocating for paly seminar – various times & dates.
  • Construction Employers Federation – invitation to Construction Excellence Awards on 6 October 2011

j. Members noted the following publications:

  • Consumer Council – consumer manifesto
  • CCMS – annual report & accounts for the year ended 31 March 2011.
  • Sustrans – newsletter
  • Advice NI- Training Brochure September – December 2011.
  • Youth Council for Northern Ireland – Annual report and accounts for the year ended 31 March 2011.

k. Members noted the following press releases previously emailed to Members:

  • Minister responds to reports of expenditure on school building projects;
  • Minister announces decision on increased capacity at Irish-medium primary school in Coalisland;
  • Education Minister approves new autistic spectrum disorder unit in Enniskillen;
  • New school build for St Columba’s;
  • O’Dowd and Farry congratulate A and AS level students;
  • Ministers welcome GCSE results;
  • Appointment of a Non-Executive Director to the Department of Education;
  • Department Appoints Governors to Kirkinriola Primary School;
  • 8,000 children missing out on free school meals.

l. The Committee noted correspondence of 6 September 2011 from the Northern Ireland Youth Forum regarding the Department of Education’s decision to withdraw Circular 1979/10.

Agreed – the Committee would invite Departmental officials and the Youth Forum to brief the Committee on the impact of the Department’s decision, and on the basis, role and function of Departmental circulars in education governance.

m. The Committee noted correspondence from the Integrated Education Fund regarding a proposal to the Committee to hold a Senate Chamber debate.

Agreed – the Committee would consider this proposal again at its 14 September 2011 meeting.

n. The Committee noted correspondence of 28 July 2011 from Barnardo’s Northern Ireland requesting an opportunity to brief the Committee on addressing underachievement through full service community schools.

Agreed – the Committee would invite Barnardo’s to present to the Committee when considering the Department’s response to the Committee’s Inquiry and Dawn Purvis’ Inquiry.

o. The Committee noted a copy of the One School for Thought open letter on the reform of the education system.

Agreed – the Committee would consider this item again at its 14 September 2011 meeting.

6. Assembly Research Service – Briefings

Assembly Research provided oral briefings on two research papers scoping potential issues for Committee inquiry, “School Councils” and “School Governors”. The Committee noted these research papers as well as two further research papers on “School transport for pupils with Special Educational Needs” and “Administration of medication to pupils”.

Agreed – the Committee would request Assembly Research to supplement its paper on School Governors with details of the differing roles of school governors across the range of school types/sectors.

Agreed – The Committee would schedule oral briefing from the researcher on the other two research papers, as appropriate during this session.

7. Forward Work Programme

Agreed – The Committee noted and approved the draft Forward Work Programme.

8. Any other business

A Member proposed that the Committee consider a visit to the newly formed Strabane Academy, possibly in conjunction with its visit to St Mary’s, Roe Valley.

Agreed – the Clerk would explore the feasibility of this option and bring back options for the Committee to consider.

9. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 14 September 2011 at 10.30 am in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.25pm.

Mervyn Storey MLA 
Chairperson, Committee for Education
14 September 2011

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