Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 1999/2000

Date: 01 June 2000

Present: 
Mr D Kennedy (Chairman)
Mr S Wilson (Deputy Chairman)
Mrs E Bell
Mr T Gallagher
Ms P Lewsley
Mr B McElduff
Mr G McHugh
Mr K Robinson

Apologies: 
Mr T Benson
Mr J Fee
Mr O Gibson

In Attendance: 
Mrs G Ardis
Miss J Adair
Mrs C Darrah
Miss L Tracey
Mrs S Murphy
Mr C Graham

The Committee met at 10.32 am in private session.

1. Declaration of Interests

The Chairman reminded members of their obligation to ensure that any relevant pecuniary or other interests were declared before and/or during every meeting of the Committee as appropriate.

2. Minutes of Meeting of 10 February 2000

The minutes of the meeting of 10 February were agreed.

The Chairman welcomed two new members of staff, Miss J Adair and Mr C Graham. On behalf of the Committee he thanked Mrs S Murphy for all her hard work and wished her well in her new post.

3. Matters Arising

(i) Members agreed that, as the Committee would be considering school funding in detail in due course, a more detailed breakdown of the allocated cost per pupil on a school by school basis was still required. The Committee ordered that the Clerk request the information from the Department.

(ii) The Chairman informed members that he would contact the offices of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister for a response to the letters sent on 3 February regarding the Committee's concern that the guidance on procedures for North/South Ministerial Council meetings resulted in a communication gap that needed to be addressed.

(iii) The Committee agreed that, to enable full scrutiny of the Capital Building proposals for 2001/2002 further information was required. The Committee ordered that the Clerk provide an overview of the process to include a timetable of events and information on how each Board assesses and prioritises schemes, the relationship between the Board's lists and the Department's overall list and the relationship with other educational organisations such as CCMS. The overview to be available by Thursday 15 June.

(iv) The Committee ordered that the Clerk obtain a timetable on the budgetary process and further information on the appropriation debate for the meeting of the Committee on 8 June.

(v) The Committee resolved that, given the number of important educational issues to be considered in the near future, the proposed presentations by INTO/UTU, NASUWT and the NI Council for Integrated Education would be deferred until the Autumn.

4. Chairman's Business

(i) The Chairman informed members that he had written to the Minister for Education requesting information on the position regarding a number of important issues including the four issues the Minister had previously indicated that he wished to refer to the Committee. Copies of the letter had been circulated to members.

5. Letter to the Minister re Flags

The Deputy Chairman, Mr Sammy Wilson, formally proposed that, after today's meeting, the Committee should write to the Minister for Education. The letter should indicate that Friday 2 June is a designated day for the Union flag to fly on all Government Buildings and the Education Committee wished to see the flag flown on this day.

Mr K Robinson seconded the proposal. Members expressed their views on the proposal and it was then put to a vote. The outcome of the vote was:

For the Proposal

Mr D Kennedy, Chairman
Mr S Wilson, Deputy Chairman
Mrs E Bell
Mr K Robinson

Against the Proposal

Mr G McHugh

The proposal was passed by a majority of the members present.

4. Chairman's Business (continued)

At 10.59 am Mr Tommy Gallagher joined the meeting.

(ii) The Chairman requested members' views on whether the proposed Committee visit to Boston in September should still take place. He indicated that a suitable time might be week commencing 4 September, the week before the Assembly reconvenes after the summer recess. He also invited the Clerk to brief members on her recent visit to Boston College.

At 11 am Mr Gallagher left the meeting, rejoining it at 11.01 am.

Following a short discussion members resolved that the Committee visit should take place provided it would add value to the work of the Committee. The Committee ordered that the Clerk should make contact with the appropriate people regarding a visit during the first week in September. A final decision would be taken based on the provision of a suitable work-related programme.

(iii) A draft press release was agreed for issue after the meeting.

At 11.10 am Mr K Robinson left the meeting.

(iv) The Chairman reminded the Committee that the Youth Service Policy Review Conference would take place on 5 and 6 June in Newcastle. The Chairman informed members that he would not be attending due to Assembly business and asked that all members reply to the organisers direct regarding their own attendance at the event.

6. Forward Work Programme

The Chairman informed members that a draft forward work programme covering the period until 7 July 2000 had been circulated.

At 11.17 am Ms Patricia Lewsley and Mr Barry McElduff joined the meeting.

At 11.18 am Mrs Eileen Bell left the meeting.

A lengthy discussion took place regarding priority issues and the proposed Committee enquiry and members resolved the following:

(i) The Committee will submit a response to the Department of Education's draft Equality Scheme. To inform its response officials from the Department of Education will be invited to make a presentation on the draft Equality Scheme and answer members' questions on Thursday 8 June.

(ii) The Committee will consider the draft Equality Schemes by the Educational Non-Departmental Public Bodies i.e. the five Education and Library Boards, the CCEA, CCMS, the Youth Council for NI and the Staff Commission for the Education and Library Boards. However, given the very short deadlines for responses, the Committee may only be able to comment on the schemes in very general terms if at all.

(iii) The Committee will consider the CCEA's proposals for changes to the Northern Ireland Curriculum Framework. To assist members' consideration the Clerk will prepare a summary of the proposals by Thursday 8 June.

(iv) Representatives from CCEA will be invited to make a presentation to the Committee on the Curriculum Framework proposals on Thursday 22 June. This will be a public meeting.

(v) The proposed Committee enquiry into underachievement will be launched in September 2000. The interim period will be used to gather information and do preparatory work. To assist this the Clerk will arrange for Mr Marken, an Assembly Researcher, to give a presentation on the topic to the Committee on Thursday 15 June.

(vi) The Committee will visit the Reading Recovery Unit at the South Eastern Education and Library Board Headquarters on Thursday 15 June.

7. Date of Next Meeting

At 11.31 am the Committee adjourned until Thursday 8 June 2000 at 10.30 am in Room 135, Parliament Buildings.

MR DANNY KENNEDY
Committee Chairman

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