Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 08 February 2012

Venue: Room 29, Parliament Buildings

The meeting opened in public session at 10.05 am.

The Chairperson expressed his thanks to Mrs Sandra Overend for her work on the Committee and welcomed Mr Fra McCann as a new member.

1. Apologies

Apologies are noted above.

2. Chair’s Business

The Chairperson commented on the usefulness of the Committee’s visit last week to St Mary’s University College.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister to ask for further details on his current review of teacher training.

3.    Minutes of the meeting held on 25 January 2012

Agreed: The minutes of the meeting were agreed.

4. Matters arising

  • The Committee discussed matters arising from the plenary debate on the NEETs and EMA motion.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to invite the Minister to come to the Committee to provide an update on issues raised during the debate.

  • The Committee noted a list of matters arising from the previous meeting.

 

5. Consideration of Staffing Issues at the North West Regional College

The Committee considered correspondence relating to staffing issues at the North West Regional College.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister expressing its concerns regarding the perceived impartiality of the sub-committee established to examine the business case and curriculum audit.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the North West Regional College to invite the Chair of the Board of Governors to accompany Mr Murphy to the briefing scheduled for 14 March 2012.

6. Briefing from the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists on the Giving Voice campaign

Representatives joined the meeting at 10.14am.

The Committee was briefed by Ms Alison McCullough, Policy Officer, Ms Jane McConn, Clinical Co-ordinator for Community Speech and Language Therapy Service, and Ms Lorraine Coulter, Clinical Co-ordinator for Education, on the Giving Voice campaign.  

The briefing was followed by a question and answer session when the representatives agreed to forward information on the impact of speech and language difficulties.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to send the Hansard transcript of the briefing to the Department for comment.

Representatives left the meeting at 11.29 am.

7. Briefing from Departmental officials on the work of the Further Education Division

 Officials joined the meeting at 11.30 am.

The Committee was briefed by Dr Mary McIvor, Director of Further Education, Mr Andrew Cole, Head of Further Education Finance, and Mr Tom Redmond, Head of Further Education Estates Branch, on the work of the Further Education Division.

11.59 am Mr Alastair Ross left the meeting.

The briefing was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department requesting a briefing paper on the Department’s vision for the Further Education sector.

12:19 am Mr Chris Lyttle joined the meeting.

The officials left the meeting at 12.20 pm.

8. Briefing from Departmental officials on ‘Hard to Reach’ Learners

 Officials joined the meeting at 12.21 pm.

The Committee was briefed by Dr Mary McIvor, Director of Further Education, Ms Yvonne Croskery, Head of Further Education Policy Branch, and Mr Christopher Andrews, Further Education Policy and Strategic Planning Branch, on ‘Hard to Reach’ Learners.

12.22 pm Mr Pat Ramsey left the meeting.

12:40 pm Mr David McIlveen left the meeting.

The briefing was followed by a question and answer session when officials agreed to provide copies of the interim evaluation reports from Pricewaterhouse Coopers on the Learner Access Engagement Pilot scheme.

The officials left the meeting at 1.12 pm.

9. Consideration of Committee responses to the consultation on the draft Programme for Government, Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland, Economic Strategy and Action Plans

The Committee considered draft responses to the consultation on the Draft Programme for Government 2011-2015, the Draft Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland 2011-2021, and the draft Northern Ireland Economic Strategy and related draft Comprehensive Action Plan.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward an amended response on the draft Programme for Government and Investment strategy for Northern Ireland to the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward an amended response on the draft Economic Strategy and Action Plans to the Committee for Enterprise Trade and Investment.

10.  Subordinate Legislation

The Committee considered the SL1 proposal for The Education (Student Support) (No.2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content for the Department to proceed to make the Statutory Rule.

11.  Correspondence

The Committee considered the following items of correspondence:

  • Response from the Department to the Committee regarding the provision of the annual accounts of the Colleges of Further Education.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this response.

  • January and February updates from the Department on apprenticeships.

  Agreed: The Committee agreed to note these updates.

  • Report from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister on the performance of the Department for Employment and Learning in investment activity for January 2012.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this report.

  • Correspondence from St Mary’s University College requesting a meeting with the Chairperson.

     Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence.

  • Correspondence from St Mary’s University College enclosing further information on its Liberal Arts degree course.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence.

  • Notes of issues arising from the meeting of the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group.

     Agreed: The Committee agreed to note these issues.

  • Correspondence from the principal of Stranmillis University College requesting additional witnesses.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Principal of Stranmillis University College and confirm that the additional witnesses could attend.

  • Correspondence from the Employment Services Board enclosing its draft Strategic Plan 2011-2014.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward this correspondence to the Department for comment.

  • Correspondence from Mr John McCallister MLA regarding childcare difficulties for a participant on the Graduate Acceleration Programme.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward this correspondence to the Department for comment.

  • Correspondence from Belfast Metropolitan College inviting the Committee to visit its new E3 building.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule a visit for 28 March 2012.

  • Response from Professor Suzi Jarvis providing further information on restrictions imposed on Higher Education students from Northern Ireland.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward this correspondence to the Department for comment.

  • Correspondence from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister on poverty issues relating to older people and ethnic minorities.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Chairperson would action this correspondence.

  • Correspondence from Parkanaur College regarding student numbers.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence.

  • Correspondence from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister on the Draft European Priorities 2012-2013.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to draft a response for consideration at the next meeting.

  • Correspondence from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister on meetings with the UK Border Agency.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence.

  • Correspondence from Queen’s University Belfast on UCAS applications for entry in 2012.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence.

12.   Draft Forward Work Programme

The Committee considered the draft Forward Work Programme until the end of March 2012.

Agreed: The Committee agreed the Forward Work Programme.

13.  Any Other Business

The Chairperson reminded members that they should return any meeting pack folders they no longer require to Committee staff for re-use.

There was no other business.

14.  Date, time and place of next meeting

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the next meeting should be held on Wednesday, 15 February 2012, at 10.00 am in Room 29, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.28 pm

Mr Basil McCrea
Chairperson, Committee for Employment & Learning

15 February 2012

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