Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 16 November 2011

Venue: Senate Chamber

The meeting commenced at 10.27 am in closed session.

The Committee considered the possible impact of industrial action on schools and the Committee meeting scheduled for 30 November 2011.

Mrs J Dobson joined the meeting at 10.29 am

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department to ask what guidance is being issued to schools in relation to the planned day of action.

Agreed – the Committee would meet on 30 November 2011 as scheduled.

The meeting moved into public session at 10.33 am

Chairperson’s Business

The Chairperson suggested to the Committee that the briefing on PEDU Reports 1 and 2 be postponed until 7 December by which time the Ministers of Education and Finance and Personnel will have agreed the reports and officials would be in a position to provide the Committee with a more comprehensive briefing.

Agreed – the Committee would postpone the PEDU briefing to 7 December 2011 and would write to the Department to ask for the reason for any delay in agreeing the PEDU reports.

Mr C McDevitt joined the meeting at 10.35 am

The Chairperson drew the Members attention to the e-Christmas Card in the tabled items.

Agreed – the Committee would send e-cards to the same stakeholders as the previous Committee.

The Committee noted the tabled items.

Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

1. Draft Minutes of 19 October 2011

The Committee approved the minutes of the meeting on 19 October 2011.

2. Matters Arising

2.1 The Committee noted correspondence of 19 October 2011 from the Department of Education regarding ETI observations on the work of, and support for, substitute teachers.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department expressing its concern regarding those instances where the ETI’s evidence highlighted that management is less effective, querying the robustness of self-evaluation, asking whether there was sufficient external observation and evaluation and whether substitute teachers should be receiving more support.

2.2 The Committee noted correspondence of 20 October 2011 from the Department of Education responding to the Committee’s questions on the October 2011 monitoring round.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department to express its concern regarding the apparent inconsistency of encouraging schools to collaborate to deliver the KS4 and Post 16 entitlement framework and expecting them to deliver KS4 mostly in their own schools and expecting travel and collaboration costs to be minimised while phasing out funding support.

2.3 The Committee noted correspondence of 20 October 2011 from the OFMDFM Committee enclosing a response from the First and deputy First Minister of 17 October 2011 regarding the Ministerial Sub-Committee for Children and Young People and early Years Sub Group.

Agreed – the Committee would request a written briefing from the Department on the implementation of the Early Years Action Plan referred to.

Agreed – the Committee would forward a copy of this correspondence to the NSPCC.

2.4 The Committee noted correspondence of 21 October 2011 from the Department of Education regarding procurement in education.

2.5 The Committee noted correspondence of 24 October 2011 from the Department of Education enclosing the Young People’s version of the consultation document.

2.6 The Committee noted correspondence of 24 October 2011from the Department of Education regarding the SEN and Inclusion Review.

2.7 The Committee noted correspondence of 24 October 2011 from the NSPCC enclosing a briefing paper on the NSPCC new ChildLine schools service.

Agreed – the Committee would request an update from NSPCC on the operation of the service in a year’s time.

2.8 The Committee noted correspondence of 14 October 2011 from Ms A McKeefry inviting the Committee to a demonstration on jolly phonics.

2.9 The Committee noted correspondence of 19 October 2011 from the Committee for Finance and Personnel on the Executive’s Review of the Financial Process.

Agreed – The Committee would respond to the DFP Committee in the terms of the draft response tabled, subject to the amendments discussed, and the amended draft would be circulated by the Clerk for comment.

2.10 The Committee noted correspondence of 19 October 2011 from NCPTA thanking the Committee.

2.11 The Committee noted correspondence of 25 October from the Committee for Regional Development on school transport health and safety issues.

2.12 The Committee noted correspondence of 25 October 2011 from the Department of Education regarding the use of phonics in schools.

2.13 The Committee noted correspondence of 25 October 2011 from the Department of Education regarding the literacy and numeracy strategy.

Agreed – Committee Members would inform the Clerk as soon as possible of the names of possible stakeholders from whom the Committee might take evidence in relation to the literacy and numeracy strategy.

2.14 The Committee noted correspondence of 26 October 2011 from the Committee for Finance and Personnel regarding the prompt payment scheme.

Agreed – the Committee would forward copies of this and previous correspondence relating to E&LBs prompt payment performance to Mr Houston.

2.15 The Committee noted correspondence of 24 October 2011 from the Minister of Education regarding the consultation on proposed changes to GCSEs.

Agreed – Committee Members would inform the Clerk as soon as possible of the names of possible stakeholders from whom the Committee might take evidence in relation to these proposed changes.

Agreed – the Committee would, at the appropriate time, liaise with the Committee for Employment and Learning regarding these proposed changes.

2.16 The Committee noted correspondence of 26 October 2011 from the Department of Education regarding the revised equality scheme and audit of inequalities.

Agreed – the Committee would write to ask the Department of Education what measures are currently in place to address the needs of looked after children in our education system and to suggest that the targets for addressing the inequalities should be more ambitious.

2.17 The Committee noted correspondence of 26 October 2011 from the Department of Education regarding PSA Targets for 2011-12.

Agreed – the Committee would ask the Department of Education to update the Committee at the end of January 2012 on progress towards setting a firm timetable for reporting against PSA Targets.

2.18 The Committee noted correspondence of 24 October 2011 from the Minister for Education regarding PSA targets.

2.19 The Committee noted correspondence of 27 October 2011 from the Department of Education regarding Maths Week Ireland and Children’s Book Ireland.

2.20 The Committee noted correspondence of 27 October 2011from the Department of Education regarding an unacknowledged error in the CCEA A Level mathematics paper.

Agreed – the Committee would forward a copy of this correspondence to

Mr Nicholson, who had raised the issue with the Committee.

Agreed – the Committee would write to request that the Acting Chief Executive of CCEA provide a fuller explanation of the reference to the inspector’s concerns being “valid from a mathematical perspective”.

2.21 The Committee noted correspondence of 27 October 2011 from the Department of Education on the administration of medication to pupils in school.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department to request a copy of the “agreed way forward” and to challenge the adequacy of the guidance and the assertion that affected pupils are getting the support they need.

Agreed – the Committee would request an update from DHSSPS, through the HSPSS Committee, on progress made in addressing this issue.

Agreed – Committee Members would inform the Clerk as soon as possible of the names of stakeholders whom the Committee might meet in relation to this issue.

2.22 The Committee noted correspondence of 27 October 2011 from the Department of Education regarding the Budget (No 2) Bill and DE’s 2009/10 Statement of Excess.

2.23 The Committee noted correspondence of 27 October 2011 from the Fermanagh Trust enclosing a link to a DVD on Shared Education.

2.24 The Committee noted correspondence of the 26 October 2011 from the NAHT Nursery Committee thanking the Committee.

2.25 The Committee noted correspondence of 26 October 2011 from Limavady Grammar School thanking the Committee.

2.26 The Committee noted correspondence of 28 October 2011 from the Department of Education on Translink school buses.

2.27 The Committee noted correspondence of 31 October 2011from the Department of Education regarding early years – school starting age.

Agreed – the Committee would forward a copy of this correspondence to ATL/Parents OutLoud.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department to highlight the need to consider all categories of pupils who might benefit from greater flexibility in school starting age (not just children with May/June birthdays), to ask the Department how it proposes to address the inadequacy of its data on pre-school age children, and to ask for a clear timetable for completion of the review of policy on school starting age.

2.28 The Committee noted correspondence of 2 November 2011from the Department of Education regarding Business in the Community’s “Time to Read” programme.

2.29 The Committee noted correspondence of 2 November 2011 from the Department of Education regarding the number of young people accessing youth work services in 2010.

2.30 The Committee noted correspondence of 2 November from the PTA-NI (formally the NCPTA) comprising a list of member schools.

2.32 The Committee noted correspondence of 3 November from the NSPCC regarding its Childline Schools Service.

2.33 The Committee noted correspondence of 4 November 2011 from the Department of Education regarding the Education Made More Accessible Report.

Agreed – the Committee would consider this correspondence again in conjunction with expected correspondence from the Report’s author.

2.34 The Committee noted correspondence of 4 November from the Federation of Passenger Transport regarding school transport health and safety issues.

The Committee noted correspondence of 7 November 2011 from the Department of Education regarding school transport health and safety issues.

Agreed – the Committee would forward this and related correspondence to the Federation of Passenger Transport for its comments.

Agreed – the Committee would take evidence from the Federation of Passenger Transport on this issue.

Agreed – the Committee would forward this and related correspondence to the Committee for the Environment for its comments on the issues raised.

2.35 The Committee noted correspondence of 7 November 2011 from the Department of Education regarding capital builds.

3. Correspondence

3.1 The Committee noted correspondence of 26 October 2011 from the Committee for Employment and Learning regarding Education Maintenance Allowance.

Agreed – the Committee would forward this correspondence to the Department of Education and request to be copied in on the Department’s response.

3.2 The Committee noted copy correspondence of 28 October 2011 from the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure regarding their inquiry into maximising the potential of creative industries.

Agreed – the Committee would forward this correspondence to the Department of Education and request to be copied in on the Department’s response.

3.3 The Committee noted correspondence of 28 October 2011from the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure regarding the world police and fire games.

Agreed – the Committee would request a briefing on the potential for young people to learn about participating in sport, and healthy lifestyles, through the games being hosted in Northern Ireland.

3.4 The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for Regional Development regarding the Post 19 Lobby Group.

Agreed – the Committee would request a written briefing from the Department on the arrangements for transition from the Education perspective and inform the Post 19 Lobby Group of this.

3.5 The Committee noted correspondence of 31 October 2011 from the Governing Bodies Association (GBA) enclosing correspondence to the Minister for Education regarding the approval of school governor appointments.

Agreed – the Committee would write to request a copy of the Minister’s response to the GBA and advise the GBA of this.

3.6 The Committee noted correspondence of 31 October 2011 from the GBA regarding reported statements by an official in Issue 49 Oct/Nov 2011 edition of Agenda NI magazine.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department to request a copy of the Permanent Secretary’s response to the GBA and clarification of whether the official had the authority to make the statements he is reported to have made, whether they represent Departmental policy and, if not, what action is required.

Agreed – the Clerk would circulate a copy of the Agenda NI article to Committee Members.

3.7 The Committee noted correspondence from a parent regarding the impact of school starting age on her son.

Agreed – the Committee would forward a copy of this correspondence to NICCY, ask NICCY to contact the parent about this and inform the parent accordingly.

Agreed – the Committee would provide the parent with copies of the Committee’s correspondence with the Department of Education and E&LBs on this issue at a policy level and suggest that she may wish to seek the assistance of her local elected representatives in pursuing this issue at a local level.

3.8 The Committee noted correspondence of 3 November 2011 from Autism NI regarding the possible closure of Knockmore Primary School.

Agreed – the Committee would forward this correspondence to the Department of Education to request its, and the SEELB’s, response to the issues raised.

3.9 The Committee noted the Staff Commission for ELBs publication of its Revised Equality Scheme.

3.10 The Committee noted the SELB’s Annual Report and Accounts 2009-10

3.11 The Committee noted the NEELB – Annual Reports and Accounts 2009-10

3.12 The Committee noted the Stranmillis College – STRANews October 2011

3.13 The Committee noted the WELB – Annual Accounts 2009-10

3.14 The Committee noted the Department of Education consultation document on the proposed increase to contributions for members of the NI Teachers Pension Scheme

3.15 The Committee noted an invitation to the launch of the Early Years organisation’s Report on the contribution of voluntary community and independent early years sector

3.16 The Committee noted aninvitation to visit Bombardier for an overview of their outreach programme with schools.

Agreed – the Committee would accept this invitation and schedule a visit in due course.

3.17 The Committee noted an Invitation from NI Council for Ethnic Minorities to its AGM and seminar entitled ‘Racial Equality in NI’s post-primary schools’

3.18 The Committee noted an invitation from BELB to its Christmas Concert

3.19 The Committee noted an invitation from the Assembly Education Service to attend a Roe Valley Learning Community’s joint School Council meeting in the Senate Chamber on 18 November 2011.

3.20 The Committee noted correspondence from a parent regarding access for her daughter to specialist support including occupational therapy.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to request clarity on the arrangements and responsibility for occupational therapy provision in schools and how individual pupil need is assessed and funded.

Agreed – the Committee would forward this correspondence to the Health Committee for its consideration.

Agreed – the Committee would write to inform the parent that the Committee was writing to the Department regarding this issue at a policy level and suggest that she may wish to seek the assistance of her local elected representatives in pursuing this issue at school and E&LB level.

3.21 The Committee noted an invitation from the Integrated Education Fund to its seminar entitled “Growing Inclusive Schools and Relationships”.

3.22 The Committee noted an invitation from the Special Olympics to the launch of its new approach to government funding in Northern Ireland.

3.23 The Committee noted an invitation from the Department of Education to the launch of the Report of the Taskforce on Traveller Education.

3.24 The Committee noted the following press releases previously emailed to Members:

  • Education Minister commends St Bernard’s Primary School;
  • Education Minister comments on Coláiste Feirste judicial review ruling;
  • O’Dowd welcomes updated research on bullying in schools;
  • O’Dowd congratulates Co Derry Primary School on their Investors in People Gold Award;
  • Innovative partnership approach can improve lives of young people – O’Dowd;
  • O’Dowd visits Foyle College and Ebrington Primary School;
  • Education Minister addresses Sure Start Conference;
  • Education Minister turns down proposal for nursery unit at St Francis of Assisi Primary School, Keady.

Mr C McDevitt left the meeting at 11.30 am

Mr T Lunn left the meeting at 11.36 am

4. Committee’s Inquiry into School Councils - Evidence Session from the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY)

Patricia Lewsley-Mooney, Commissioner, Marlene Kinghan, Head of Communications and Participation and Alison Montgomery, Senior Policy and Research Officer joined the meeting at 11.37am and provided an oral briefing on the work carried out by NICCY to support School Councils and answered Members’ questions.

Mr McDevitt rejoined the meeting at 11.47am

Mrs B Hale left the meeting at 12.13 pm

Agreed – the Commissioner would accept and consider the correspondence at 3.7 above.

Agreed – the Commissioner would provide the Committee with examples of good practice in relation to school councils to assist the Committee’s Inquiry.

The Chairperson suspended the meeting at 12.22 pm

The meeting resumed at 12.33 pm with the Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson, Ms M Boyle, Mrs J Dobson and Mr McDevitt present.

Agreed – the Committee Clerk would produce a paper for a possible Committee visit to examine the practice in Wales where school councils are a legislative requirement.

Ms M McIlveen joined the meeting at 12.34 pm

Mrs J Dobson left the meeting at 12.34 pm

5. Committee’s Inquiry into School Councils – Briefing from the Department of Education

Linda Wilson, Director of Parents, Families and Communities and Eve Stewart, Head of Participation and Parenting Team joined the meeting at 12.34 pm and provided an oral briefing on the Department of Education’s position on School Councils and support for pupil participation and answered Members’ questions.

Agreed – officials agreed to provide the Committee with a copy of its draft guidance on school councils/pupil participation together with a copy of the Minister of Education’s letter informing NICCY that it would not progress the guidance until the Committee’s Inquiry has been completed.

Mrs J Dobson rejoined the meeting at 12.50 am

Agreed – the Committee would seek the views of the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) on school councils and other forms of pupil participation.

Agreed – the Committee would ask the Department for its assessment of the costs of operating school councils and other forms of pupil participation.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department to request details of the schools which allow pupils to review applications for teaching positions.

Mrs J Dobson left the meeting at 12.58 am

6. The Education (2006 Order) (Commencement No 3) Order (Northern Ireland) 2011

The Committee noted the following Statutory Rule:

The Education (2006 Order) (Commencement No 3) Order (Northern Ireland) 2011

Agreed – the Committee Clerk would provide the Committee with a paper on the numbers of and uses of orders which the Assembly are not subject to affirmatory, confirmatory or negative resolution procedures of the Assembly.

7. Forward Work Programme

The Committee noted and approved the draft Forward Work Programme.

Agreed – the Committee would have one briefing on proposed changes to GCSEs in January 2012.

8. Any other business

The Chairperson mentioned an instance in the SELB where a decision by the E&LB to increase pupil numbers in a school had been turned down by the Minister of Education.

Agreed – the Committee write to the Department of Education to request a written briefing on the decision making process by which a school’s pupil numbers can be increased and the respective roles/powers of the parties to that process, and whether that process constitutes a ‘development proposal’.

9. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 23 November 2011 at 10.30 am in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.10 pm.

Mervyn Storey MLA 
Chairperson, Committee for Education
23 November 2011

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