Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 25 January 2012

Venue: Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings

The meeting commenced at 10.35am in open session. 

Chairperson’s Business

The Chairperson thanked Alyn Hicks for his work with the Committee and welcomed Nathan McVeigh as part of the team.

The Chairperson informed members that the Department have requested sight of the Committee’s response to the Programme for Government along with any responses the Committee received from stakeholders in relation to PfG.

Agreed – to forward the documents requested to the Department.

The Chairperson informed members that he attended the BT Young Scientist exhibition in Dublin on 12 January and provided members with an overview. Members would encourage BT to continue with the exhibition and to look at Northern Ireland as a venue to host a future event.

The Chairperson informed members that the closing date for the questionnaire in relation to the School Councils Inquiry was Friday 21 January, and that 288 responses were received. A research paper on the summary of responses will be provided at next week’s meeting.

The Chairperson informed members that there will be liaison between OFMdFM and Assembly officials with the purpose of reviewing guidance that is currently in place in relation to the issue of late papers from the Department.

Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

1.    Draft Minutes of 18 January 2012

The Committee approved the minutes of the meeting on 18 January 2012.

2.    Matters Arising

2.1.    The Committee noted correspondence of 20 December 2011, 9 & 13 January 2012 from the Department of Education regarding several issues raised at the Committee meeting of 14 December 2011.

Agreed – the Clerk provide a table for next week’s meeting suggesting how the Committee may wish to progress each issue.

2.2.    The Committee noted copy correspondence of 10 January 2012 from the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development regarding the Rural Poverty Fund.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking for details on any liaison they have had with DARD in relation to help with the issue of Rural Proofing.

2.3.    The Committee noted copy correspondence of 11 January 2012 from the Minister for Education to the Chairperson of the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee regarding tickets to the 2012 Olympic Games.

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

2.4.    The Committee noted correspondence of 9 January 2012 from the Minister for Education regarding the timing of the SEELB Commissioners’ meeting to discuss potential school closures.

2.5.    The Committee noted correspondence of 13 January 2012 from the Department of Education regarding the Child Poverty Act 2010.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department, asking for further detail on the initiatives that it informed OFMdFM of in order to tackle poverty and write to the Department of Education, Department of Justice and Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety asking how it intends to take into account the Motion which passed in the House on Monday in relation to Pupils Living in Poverty.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking if its 2020 targets will be realigned to take into account the Child Poverty Act 2010 and how it intends these to be structured to enable schools to incorporate them into their existing policies.

2.6.    The Committee noted correspondence of 13 January 2012 from the Department of Education regarding the Joint Sub-Committee on Early Years.

2.7.    The Committee noted correspondence of 13 January 2012 from the Department of Education regarding the Ministerial Sub-Committee for Children and Young People and the Early Years Sub-Group.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking for more detail on the timeframe for completion of the forward work programme, stating that the Committee would like to receive more details in relation to this issue during its briefing to the Committee at the meeting on 29 February.

2.8.    The Committee noted correspondence of 16 January 2012 from the Department of Education regarding the Sandy Row Homework Project.

2.9.    The Committee noted copy correspondence of 12 January from the Minister for Education to the IEF regarding the draft Programme for Government.

2.10. The Committee noted correspondence of 17 January 2012 from the Department of Education regarding the Committee Inquiry into School Councils.

2.11. The Committee noted correspondence of 18 January 2012 from the Department of Education regarding the Curriculum Sports Programme.

Agreed – to forward the letter and all correspondence the Committee has received in relation to Ulster Rugby to the Ulster Rugby All Party Working Group asking for their comments, especially in relation to schools having to use their delegated budgets to employ rugby coaches if they wish to do so.

2.12. The Committee noted correspondence of 18 January 2012 from the Department of Education regarding the Chancellors Autumn Statement – timetable for allocation of additional money.

Agreed – the Committee would write a letter to the Department asking for the estimated number of jobs that will be retained as a result of the redundancy programme, the estimated number of staff who are expected to go through the redundancy programme, the current policy that excludes principles from the redundancy packages to be reviewed as members think this will allow staff the opportunity to remain in their post and, if this cannot be revisited, the reasons for this; and for information on whether or not the Department envisage this problem occurring again in the future.

2.13. The Committee noted correspondence of 19 January 2012 from the Department of Education regarding the Viability Audit.

Agreed – the Committee would write a letter to the Department asking for details on the weightings that are given to the 3 criteria that were used in the viability audit; if there are any plans to publish the report when it is available and outlining members concerns that if the report goes into the public domain that this may cause concern about possible school closures which could result in parents boycotting or removing children from schools prematurely.

Agreed – the Committee would request copies of the reports from each board.

3.    Correspondence

Mr McNarry left the meeting at 11.15a.m.

3.1.      The Committee noted correspondence of 13 January 2012 from the Chair of the AEP Forum regarding the new Chair of the AEP Forum.

3.2.      The Committee noted correspondence of 13 January 2012 from the South Eastern Heads Association requesting a meeting with the Chairperson of the Committee.

3.3.      The Committee noted correspondence of 16 January 2012 from Ballynahinch Learning Community regarding funding. (dealt with in conjunction with 3.2)

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking if they have written to schools regarding the extra funding and how it will affect individual budgets.

Agreed – the Committee would advise the schools and bodies who have contacted it to write to the Department, outlining their concerns about the Aggregated Schools Budget and continued uncertainty as to how the extra funding will affect them.

3.4.    The Committee noted correspondence of 18 January 2012 from the Committee for Finance and Personnel regarding the monitoring of departmental savings delivery plans.

3.5.    The Committee noted an invitation previously emailed to Members from the Spirit of Enniskillen to their Annual Together Schools Conference in the Wellington Park Hotel on 2 February 2012.

3.6.    The Committee noted a publication previously delivered to Members rooms from the NEELB regarding their Annual Report and Accounts 2010/2011.

3.7.    The Committee noted the following Department of Education News Releases previously emailed to Members:

  • ·         O’Dowd Welcomes £120M Boost for Education;
  • ·         O’Dowd Hails North’s Young Scientist at Dublin Exhibition;
  • ·         New guidance to help children explore diversity in the classroom;
  • ·         Changes to pre-school admissions arrangements unveiled;
  • ·         O’Dowd receives findings of viability audit of schools;
  • ·         Education Minister launches new online resource for schools.

 

Mr Flanagan joined the meeting at 11.20a.m.

4.     Assembly Research briefing on Procurement

Mr Flanagan left the meeting at 11.25a.m.

Mr McNarry re-joined the meeting at 11.34a.m.

Assembly Research provided an oral briefing on three research papers regarding procurement:

  •       ‘Procurement in education: summary paper’
  •       ‘Supporting SME access to public procurement opportunities’
  •      ‘Alternatives to conventional PPPs/PFIs in capital procurement’

 

The Committee noted these papers.

5.     Departmental Briefing on Procurement Modernisation

Jimmy Stewart, Director of C2K, Caroline Gillan, Director of Procurement Modernisation and Suzanne Kingon, Procurement Modernisation Directorate joined the Committee at 11.40am and provided the Committee with an oral briefing on Procurement and answered Members’ questions.

Mrs Hale left the meeting at 12.05p.m. 

Mr McNarry left the meeting at 12.15p.m. 

Miss McIlveen joined the meeting at 12.18p.m. 

Mrs Dobson left the meeting at 12.21p.m.

Mrs Dobson re-joined the meeting at 12.33p.m.

Mr McDevitt left the meeting at 12.35p.m.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the 3 research papers in relation to Procurement to the Department.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking for an outline of the Prince 2 methodology and process it has adopted.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking for information on what schools are expected to use their delegated budgets for and if it includes sports equipment.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking how many staff work in procurement within each board and CCMS and what qualifications they have.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking why there has been a delay, from 2002, in implementing the delivery models identified by the CoPE team.

6.     Departmental briefing on proposed changes to GCSE’s

Dale Heaney, Head of Assessment and Qualifications Team, Paul Murray, Assessment and Qualifications Team  and Roger McCune, Accreditation Manager joined the Committee at 12.36pm and provided the Committee with a briefing on the proposed changes to GCSE’s and answered Members’ questions.

Mr McDevitt rejoined the meeting at 12.45p.m.

Mr McNarry rejoined the meeting at 1.10p.m.

Agreed –Departmental officials would update the Committee with the results of the English and Maths examinations in relation to the amount of A* grades received and forward a copy of the CCEA guidance on awarding marks for quality of written communication when it becomes available.

7.     Forward Work Programme

The Committee noted the forward work programme.

8.    Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 1 February 2012 at 10.30 am in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.15pm.

Mike Nesbitt MLA
Deputy Chairperson, Committee for Education
1 February 2012

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