Minutes of Proceedings
Date: 08 February 2012
Venue: Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings
The meeting commenced at 10.30am in open session.
The Chairperson thanked Mr Nesbitt for chairing the meeting last week and welcomed him to the Committee.
The Chairperson informed members that they had been provided with a letter of thanks from Mr David McNarry.
The Chairperson reminded members that Carrickfergus College were in the building and that the Committee had agreed to speak to them.
Agreed – Mr Conall McDevitt and Mr Mike Nesbitt would speak to the pupils.
Apologies are detailed above.
1. Draft Minutes of 1 February 2012
The Committee approved the minutes of the meeting on 1 February 2012.
2. Matters Arising
2.1. The Committee noted correspondence of 20 January 2012 from the Department of Education regarding the viability audit and the area planning process.
2.2. The Committee noted correspondence of 27 January 2012 from the Department of Education on the impact of industrial action.
2.3. The Committee noted correspondence of 1 February 2012 from the Department of Education on Stage 2 of the PEDU Review of the Education Sector.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking for clarification on what the immediate actions referred to in paragraph 3, page 1 of the letter are.
2.4. The Committee noted correspondence of 2 February 2012 from the Department of Education regarding administration of medication to pupils.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Education and Library Boards, the teacher unions and CCMS thanking them for any response they have previously made in relation to this issue and seeking their opinion on the reluctance to administer medication to pupils, despite an indemnity being in place.
2.5. The Committee noted correspondence of 2 February 2012 from the Department of Education regarding engagement with Sport NI and Community Use of Schools.
Agreed – the Committee would consider this item along with 2.6.
2.6. The Committee noted correspondence of 31 January 2012 from the Minister for Education regarding enhancing Community Use of School Premises.
Agreed – the correspondence is forwarded to the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking about its indemnity coverage in relation to the community use of school premises and asking if the Minister is proactive in relation to this issue and does this include engagement with local councils.
Agreed – the correspondence is forwarded to Mr David McNarry MLA.
3.1. The Committee noted correspondence of 18 January 2012 from Asthma UK regarding access to inhalers in schools for emergencies.
Agreed - the correspondence is forwarded to the Department asking that the Committee is copied into any response.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety and forward all correspondence in relation to this issue and administering medication to pupils, stating that the Committee would like to discuss how the two Committees may work together on these issues.
3.2. The Committee noted correspondence from Roy Beggs MLA regarding questions to the Minister for Education regarding budget, a tabled paper of written answers from the Minister to these questions, a tabled response from the Department and a tabled press release in relation to the questions the Committee raised around schools being informed of what further monies they would be receiving.
Agreed – the Committee would raise any outstanding issues during the departmental briefing on 22 February 2012.
3.3. The Committee noted correspondence of 30 January 2012 from an individual in relation to Stranmillis University College’s proposed merger.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the individual stating that it is not a matter for the Committee for Education to consider whilst the Department of Employment and Learning still exists and the DEL Committee will continue to deal with this issue.
3.4. The Committee noted correspondence of 2 February 2012 from the Committee for OFMdFM regarding draft European Priorities 2012-12.
3.5. The Committee noted an invitation previously emailed to Members from SENAC to a conference on the legal aspects of the SEN system in Northern Ireland on 15 March 2012.
3.6. The Committee noted the following Department of Education News Releases previously emailed to Members:
- Schools’ Viability Audits Incomplete;
- O’Dowd approves nursery unit at Waringstown Primary School;
- O’Dowd comments on Bangor Central IPS;
- Minister declines an increase in nursery provision at Brefne Nursery School, Belfast;
- O’Dowd re-assures parents on plans for special education provision;
- Minister turns down proposal for nursery unit at St Mary’s Primary School, Banbridge;
- Report aims to encourage community use of school premises;
- O’Dowd addresses Jim Haughey memorial event.
One Member welcomed the announcement made by the Minister in relation to the approval of a nursery unit at Waringstown Primary School.
4. Assembly Research briefing on Planning School Provision
Mr Nesbitt left the meeting at 10.55am.
Mr McDevitt left the meeting at 10.55am.
Assembly Research provided an oral briefing on the paper entitled ‘Planning School Provision’
The Committee noted this paper and agreed to forward it to the Department.
5. Departmental briefing on Sustainable Schools
John McGrath, Deputy Secretary, Diarmuid McLean, Director of Investment and Infrastructure and Lorraine Finlay, Head of Area Planning Policy Team joined the Committee at 11.10am and provided the Committee with a briefing on Sustainable Schools and answered Members’ questions on this and the Viability Audit.
Members were provided with a tabled response from the Department in relation to liaison Departmental officials have had or requested with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in relation to help with the issue of rural proofing.
Mr Nesbitt rejoined the meeting at 11.11am.
Mr McDevitt rejoined the meeting at 11.11am.
Miss McIlveen left the meeting at 11.50am.
Mr Lunn left the meeting at 11.55am.
Miss McIlveen rejoined the meeting at 11.58am.
Mr Lunn rejoined the meeting at 12.01pm.
Mrs Dobson left the meeting at 12.15pm.
Mrs Dobson rejoined the meeting at 12.20pm.
Mr McDevitt left the meeting at 12.28pm.
Ms Boyle left the meeting at 12.31pm.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department asking for information on the boarder schools initiative timescale and for information on the terms of reference.
6. Forward Work Programme
The Committee noted that there would be no ESA Bill briefing at next week’s meeting, there will no longer be a viability audit briefing and the briefing on the budget 2012-13, 22 February, will include the revised Aggregate Schools Budget.
7. Any Other Business
One Member brought to the attention of the Committee a news article in relation to schools buses being found to be unfit for purpose in Londonderry on 7 February 2012.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education and the Department of the Environment asking for clarification on how many vehicles were tested, how many passed, reasons for failure and how this situation arose. The Committee will also seek clarification if all vehicles used to transport children to and from school are subject to an annual PSV inspection.
8. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 15 February 2012 at 10.30 am in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.50pm.
Mervyn Storey MLA
Chairperson, Committee for Education
15 February 2012