Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 23 November 2011

Venue: Senate Chamber

The meeting commenced at 10.30 am in open session.

Chairperson’s Business

The Chairperson welcomed students on work experience to the meeting.

The Committee noted tabled correspondence from NIPSA dated 21 November 2011 on Public Service Strike Action.

The Chairperson reminded Members about the One School of Thought debate to be held in the Senate Chamber on 24 November 2011.

Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

1. Draft Minutes of 16 November 2011

The Committee approved the minutes of the meeting on 16 November 2011.

2. Matters Arising

2.1 The Committee noted correspondence of 8 November 2011 from the Department of Education regarding Braidside Integrated Primary School re housing of the school in mobile classrooms.

2.2 The Committee noted correspondence of 8 November 2011 from the Department of Education regarding the Middletown Centre for Autism.

2.3 The Committee noted correspondence of 8 November 2011 from the Department of Education regarding projecting demand for pre-school places.

2.4 The Committee noted correspondence of 11 November 2011 from the Department of Education regarding the joint Sub-committee on early years between DE and DHSSPS.
Agreed – the Committee would request a written briefing from the Department of Education on the issues which the Sub-committee has dealt with to date and request a copy of the forward work programme once agreed.

2.5 The Committee noted correspondence of 11 November 2011 from the Department of Education regarding the pre-school admissions process.

2.6 The Committee noted correspondence of 11 November 2011from the Department of Education regarding the Early Years policy.
Agreed – the Committee would request an oral briefing from Departmental officials on progress to date in analysing the consultation responses and the fundamental issues which the consultation has raised and, progress on the surveying of parents who did not participate in the second stage of the pre-school application process.

2.7 The Committee noted correspondence of 11 November 2011 from the Department of Education regarding efficiency savings plans.

2.8 The Committee noted correspondence of 11 November 2011 from the Department of Education regarding procurement in education.
Agreed – the Committee would consider a Procurement Issues Paper early in the New Year and commission an oral briefing from Departmental officials on issues identified.

2.9 The Committee noted correspondence of 10 November 2011 from the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development regarding Committee priorities.

2.10 The Committee noted correspondence of 14 November 2011 from the Committee for Finance and Personnel regarding Post Project Evaluations.
Agreed – the Committee would request a copy of the timetable for completion of PPEs referred to in the Department’s letter to the Committee of 10 October 2011, updated to indicate which PPEs will be completed by the timetabled date and details of the procedures, including monitoring, put in place to improve performance in this area.

2.11 The Committee noted correspondence of 14 November 2011from the Minister for Education regarding a request for the terms of reference for area planning in draft form.

2.12 The Committee noted correspondence of 15 November 2011 from a member of the public regarding the E.M.M.A Report.
Agreed – the Committee would bring raise policy issues raised in the E.M.M.A Report with Departmental officials during the briefing on Literacy and Numeracy in the New Year.

2.13 The Committee noted correspondence of 14 November 2011 from the Committee for Finance and Personnel regarding the Performance and Efficiency Delivery Unit (PEDU).
Agreed – the Committee would raise the issues identified in this report during the session on PEDU I & II on 7 December 2011.

2.14 The Committee noted correspondence of 16 November 2011 from the Department of Education regarding Budget 2011-15.
Agreed – the Committee would consider this item when considering item 3.1 below.

2.15 The Committee noted correspondence of 17 November 2011 from the Department of Education regarding the Report on the Literacy and Numeracy Taskforce 2010/11.
Agreed – the Committee would commission a briefing from the Literacy and Numeracy Taskforce on its Final Report in conjunction with a briefing from Departmental officials on the issues raised in the Taskforce Final Report.

2.16 The Committee noted a briefing note of the 17 November 2011from the Clerk regarding procedures for, and use of, Commencement Orders which are not subject to Assembly resolution procedures.

3. Correspondence

3.1 The Committee noted correspondence of 17 November 2011 from the Minister for Education regarding reallocated further funding for the aggregated schools budget.
Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department requesting information on how changes to pensions and early retirement arrangements fit into a strategic context, on the following issues;

  • where the further funding (£40m) had been reallocated from and what the impact of this would be on existing or planned expenditure within the Department;
  • information on what other measures are planned in seeking efficiencies;
  • whether the funding for voluntary severance is a strategic plan to reduce staffing levels generally or to dis-encourage the practice of offering premature retirement as it a more costly option.

Agreed – the Committee would raise these issues will officials at its oral budget briefing on January Monitoring on 14 December 2011.

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

3.3 The Committee noted the following publications:

  • Special EU Programme – Booklet entitled ‘Smart, Sustainable & Inclusive’
  • GTCNI – Annual Report and Accounts for Year Ended 31/03/09

3.4 The Committee noted the following invitations previously emailed to Members:

  • PTA-NI – invitation to launch of PTA-NI
  • Jordanstown School – invitation to opening of new school
  • Pobal – invitation to seminar & research launch

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

  • Assessment not testing, offers opportunities to learn – O’Dowd;
  • O’Dowd comments on media reports concerning wearing of poppy at local school;
  • Education Minister marks new beginning for Gaelscoil Éanna;
  • O’Dowd launches Anti-Bulling Week;
  • Statement by First and deputy First Minister on the Education and Skills Authority;
  • Education Minister connects with pupil in live videoconference;
  • O’Dowd welcomes final report of the Literacy and Numeracy Taskforce;
  • O’Dowd announces £40million extra for school budget;
  • Education Minister congratulates St Mark’s High School.

4. Presentation from Assembly Research on paper entitled ‘Sharing and collaborating in education’

An Assembly Research Officer provided the Committee with a briefing on sharing and collaborating in education and answered Members questions.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to ask whether it holds any information about financial savings arising from shared education (shared facilities etc), to request copies of any information held, and, if none held, whether the Department is planning to gather such information and what type of savings might be anticipated.

5. Presentation from Queens University on the Sharing Education Programme

Tony Gallagher, Pro-Vice Chancellor, QUB, Lauri McCusker, Director, Fermanagh Trust, and David Dunlop, Principal, Limavady High School joined the meeting at 11.17 am and provided the Committee with an oral briefing on the Shared Education Programme and answered Members’ questions.

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to ask what policy and legislative changes might be required to facilitate shared education (including the commitments in the draft Programme for Government);

Agreed – the Committee would write to the Department of Education to request the terms of reference for the Ministerial Advisory Group to explore and bring forward recommendations to the Minister of Education to advance shared education and to clarify whether the Advisory Group’s terms of reference will encompass exploring possible policy and legislative changes and recommendations in that regard.

6. Presentation from the Integrated Education Fund on Shared Education

Tina Merron, CEO and Marie Cowan, Chairperson joined the meeting at 12.46pm, provided the Committee with an oral briefing on the work of the IEF and answered Members’ questions.

The Committee was informed of the previous Chair of the IEF’s retirement and thanked her for her work with the Committee.

Agreed – the Committee would forward the IEF and QUB briefing papers to the Department of Education for its comments on the issues they raise.

Agreed – IEF would provide the Committee with a list of their consultation events and dates.

7. Forward Work Programme

The Committee noted and approved the draft Forward Work Programme.

Agreed – the Committee would request an oral briefing paper on the draft Programme for Government from Departmental officials for the Committee meeting on 7 December 2011.

8. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 30 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
30 November 2011

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