Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 12 October 2011

Venue: Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings

The meeting commenced at 10.33 am in open session.

Chairperson’s Business

The Chairperson reported on his meeting with the Ulster Teachers Union on 5 October 2011 and invited any Members who wished to, to join him at a meeting with Unison.

Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

1. Draft Minutes of 3 & 5 October 2011

The Committee approved the minutes of the 3 and 5 October 2011.

2. Matters Arising

  1. The Committee noted correspondence of 30 September 2011 from the Department of Education on ELBs resource allocation plans.
  2. The Committee noted correspondence of 27 September 2011 from Carrickfergus College regarding their visits to Parliament Buildings.
  3. The Committee noted correspondence of 30 September 2011 from the Department of Education regarding research on class size and the procedure for dealing with unsatisfactory performance by teachers and principals. 
    Agreed – the Committee would write to the E&LBs and CCMS to request information on their use of the procedure, number of occasions used, outcomes for dealing with unsatisfactory performance and support for staff affected. 
    Agreed – the Committee would commission a briefing from the Inspectorate, including the role of the Inspectorate in dealing with unsatisfactory performance, the frequency of inspection and the timing and frequency of follow-up inspections.
  4. The Committee noted correspondence of 3 October 2011 from the Department of Education regarding school census statistics and pupil teacher ratios.
  5. The Committee noted copy correspondence of 3 October 2011from the Department of Education to the Committee for the Environment regarding reducing departmental energy usage.
  6. The Committee noted correspondence of 4 October 2011 from the Department of Education on the dual usage of schools.
  7. The Committee noted correspondence of 4 October 2011 from the Department of Education regarding the Middletown Centre for autism. 
    Agreed – Committee Members would review the material provided over recent weeks on the Middletown Centre and Members would bring back to the Committee meeting on 19 October 2011 key issues which they would wish to cover during the Committee’s proposed visit to Middletown and progress arrangements for a visit.
  8. The Committee noted correspondence of 4 October 2011 from the Department of Education regarding its asset management strategy.
  9. The Committee noted correspondence of 5 October 2011 from the Department of Education regarding PEDU, and will include this correspondence in the papers for the meeting of 16 November 2011, focusing on the PEDU work.
  10. The Committee noted correspondence of 7 October 2011 from the Clerk to the Committee for Education regarding a Committee motion on Circular 1979/10 and the Youth Forum. 
    Agreed – the Committee would await the Department’s response to its request for information, identify the key issues and consider a possible Committee motion at that time.
  11. The Committee noted correspondence of 6 October from the Department of Education enclosing the Minister for Education’s response to the Chairperson of the Committee for OFMdFM regarding the lack of democratic representation on the SEELB. 
    Agreed – the Clerk would inform Members of the likely timescale for the provision of this advice.
  12. The Committee noted correspondence of 6 October 2011 from the Department of Education enclosing the Minister for Education’s response to the Ms L Allen, Principal of Howard Primary School regarding disability access. 
    Agreed – the Committee would forward a copy of this letter to Ms L Allen.
  13. The Committee noted correspondence of 7 October 2011 from the Department of Education on the community use of schools.
  14. The Committee noted copy correspondence of 6 October 2011 from the Minister of Education to the First and deputy First Minister regarding his intention to make an oral statement to the Assembly on 10 October 2011 regarding the North South Ministerial Council meeting in education.
  15. The Committee noted correspondence of 10 October 2011 from the Department of Education regarding the Department’s shortfall on its efficiency delivery plan target in 2010-11. 
    Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department to ask how it proposed to rectify the shortfall in delivery of efficiency savings.

3. Correspondence

  1. The Committee noted correspondence 28 September 2011 from the principal of Anahilt Primary School enclosing a press release entitled ‘Anahilt Primary School leads the way in teaching synthetic phonics and becomes a Model School’ and noted that Mrs Hale and Mr McNarry plan to visit the school on 18 November 2011. 
    Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department to request clarification on the various systems of phonics used in teaching and the Department’s assessment of them and recommendations.
  2. The Committee noted correspondence from A Hunter regarding the lack of employment for young teachers.
  3. The Committee noted correspondence of 3 October 2011from the National Deaf Children’s Society regarding the Peripatetic Teachers of the deaf service in the WELB. 
    Agreed – the Committee would invite the Society to a stakeholder event on the theme of support for children with visual/auditory impairment
  4. The Committee noted correspondence of 6 October 2011 from J.M. McAuley regarding development proposals for schools and the schools estate.
  5. Subject to the matters specifically Agreed below, Members noted the following conferences, invitations and meeting requests:
    • Advice NI – invitation to Annual General meeting ;
    • Staff Commission for the ELBs–invitation to the Joint Consultative Forum meeting.
  6. The Committee noted the following publications:
    • Department of Education – Resource Accounts for the year ended 31 March 2011
  7. Members noted the following press releases previously emailed to Members:
  1.  
    • Education Minister visits Castle Tower Special School, Ballymena;
    • Education Minister agrees to co-ed Sixth Form provision at Portora Royal School

4. Procurement in education in other jurisdictions

An Assembly Research Officer provided the Committee with a briefing entitled ‘Procurement in education in other jurisdictions’ and answered Members questions.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department to request a written briefing on the work of the new Procurement Directorate, the progress made to date and how the work of the Directorate has affected and will affect procurement by the Department’s arm’s length bodies.

Agreed – the Committee would request a written briefing from the Department on how its arm’s length bodies currently manage procurement, including the relationships with Central Procurement Directorate, what proportion of procurement is dealt with by “ELB CAT”, which arm’s length bodies are signed up to it and whether there has been any evaluation of it.

Agreed – Assembly Research would provide further detail on the effect of procurement systems on small/medium sized businesses accessing contracts and on a more “co-operative” based type of PFI/PPP.

Agreed – the Committee would schedule a session in December 2011 to review the information obtained to date on procurement in education, identify key issues and consider its next steps.

5. Departmental briefing on the Revised Equality Scheme and Audit of Inequalities

An Assembly Research Officer provided the Committee with a briefing entitled ‘Revised approach to the Equality Scheme” and answered Members questions.

Chris Stewart, Director of Equality and All Ireland and Edith Preston, Equality Team joined the meeting at 11.22 am and provided an oral briefing to the Committee on the revised equality scheme and audit of inequalities and answered Members questions.

Miss McIlveen and Mrs Hale left the meeting at 11.30 am

Mr D McNarry left the meeting at 11.39

Agreed –officials Agreed to write to the Committee in relation to the equality implications of pupils who required medication to be administered in school in order to participate fully in school life but were not receiving the necessary support from their schools.

Agreed –officials Agreed to provide further information in relation to the outcomes for looked after children and how will this be addressed in the Audit of Inequalities Action Plan.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Minister to request an extension of the consultation period for a further month.

Agreed – the Committee would, in the New Year, consider a larger body of work on bullying and wellbeing in the context of pupil well-being generally.

Agreed - the Committee would write to DE to request details of what arrangements Translink has in place to address bullying on school buses and to ask what proportion of Translink buses providing school transport have CCTV cameras installed.

6. Departmental briefing on Departmental performance against its PSA Targets for 2011-12 and 2011-12

Katrina Godfrey, Director of Planning and Performance management, Karen McCullough, Head of Statistics and Research Team and Chris Hughes, Head of Standards and Improvement Team joined the meeting at 12 noon and provided an oral briefing on Departmental performance against its PSA targets for 2010-11 and 2011-12 and answered Members questions.

Agreed – officials would provide the Committee with an update on progress on the SEN and Inclusion and the Early Years policies.

Agreed – officials would inform the Committee whether the percentage of young people accessing youth services is measured and would provide the Committee with this information if it is available.

Agreed – officials would inform the Committee whether there would be a final report on progress against PSA targets and would provide the Committee with this if, and as soon as, it becomes available.

Agreed – the Committee would request six monthly updates on DE’s performance against whatever system replaces the current PSA targets.

Agreed – officials would provide the Committee with more detailed information on the “closing the gap” initiative (in place between DE, E&LBs and CCMS).

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Minister to recognise that there is evidence of some good results being achieved against the current PDA targets and to ask him to consider how he, and Executive colleagues, could incorporate support for improved performance at primary school level into the new Programme for Government.

Agreed – the Committee would request written update briefings on the Literacy and Numeracy Strategy targets at six monthly intervals, commencing in March 2012.

7. Departmental update briefing on Budget 2011-12 and Prompt Payment

John McGrath, Deputy Secretary and Trevor Connolly, Director of Finance joined the meeting at 12.34 pm and provided an oral update briefing to the Committee on Budget 2011-12 and prompt payment and answered Members’ questions.

Agreed – the Deputy Secretary would “look into” why the Department’s briefing paper for the Committee was late.

Agreed – officials would do their best to provide the Committee, for the Committee meeting on 19 November 2011, with its estimate of how many fewer teachers (including on an FTE basis) would be in post next year, and subsequent years, and details of how the amounts for voluntary severance/redundancy in the Education Budget Distribution Table were calculated, together with the numbers (including on an FTE basis) of teaching and non-teaching staff which the Department anticipates will take voluntary severance or be made redundant over the 2011-15 Budget period.

Agreed – officials would provide the Committee with a written explanation for the delays in putting a multi-annual plan in place for the Middletown Centre for Autism and for the delay in finalising the Centre’s budget for the current financial year.

8. Forward Work Programme

Agreed – The Committee noted and approved the draft Forward Work Programme subject to prioritisation of items of business to take account of the work which will flow from the viability audit commissioned by the Minister of Education.

Agreed – the Committee approved the terms of reference for its Inquiry into School Councils.

9. Any other business

The Chairperson reminded Members about the Committee’s stakeholder event at 5 pm that evening in room 115, Parliament Buildings.

10. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 19 October 2011 at 10.30 am in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.00 pm.

Michelle McIlveen MLA 
Member, Committee for Education
19 October 2011

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