Mr D Kennedy (Chairman)
Mr S Wilson (Deputy Chairman)
Mrs E Bell
Mr T Gallagher
Mr T Hamilton
Mr B McElduff

Mr J Fee
Mr O Gibson
Mrs P Lewsley
Mr G McHugh
Mr K Robinson

In Attendance:
Mrs C Darrah
Mrs J McMurray
Miss J Adair
Ms C Angelone

The Committee met at 2.00 p.m. in private session.

1.Minutes of the Meeting of 22 February 2001

The minutes of the meeting of 22 February 2001 were agreed.

2.Matters arising from the Minutes of Proceedings

  1. The Committee response on the proposed Statutory Rule on the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (Constitution) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001 had been circulated.
  2. The Chairman had informed the Minister for Education that the Committee wished to comment on the consultation paper on the review of the information schools are required to provide prior to circulation.
  3. The Chairman advised members that arrangements for oral evidence sessions on post-primary education were being made and as agreed additional organisations had been contacted regarding written submissions.
  4. A draft programme for the proposed visit to Scotland was circulated and discussed. Members instructed the Clerk to commission advice on travelling to Scotland in view of the outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease.

The Chairman informed members that he had received a request from the BBC to accompany the Committee on the visit to Scotland. Members agreed that the Chairman and Clerk meet with then journalist to discuss the matter further.

  1. The Minister for had replied to the Committee response on the Review of a common LMS Funding Formula and copies had been circulated.
  2. The Minister had also replied to the Committee response to the

Schools Capital 2001/02 Building Programme and copies had been circulated.

The Chairman advised members that the Minister had announced details of the 2001/02 Programme earlier in the day and copies of the Committee Press Release had been circulated.

The Committee discussed the Minister's reply and the details of the announcement. Mr Wilson requested that the minutes record his concern that there was an imbalance in the allocation of funds between the different education sectors to the detriment of the Controlled sector which he believed had also occurred the previous year. Mr McElduff wished it to be recorded that he was content that the decision to allocate funds was made on the basis of educational need and reflected the historical imbalance in funding. He also pointed out that officials from the Education and Library Boards had not raised any complaints regarding the announcement. Members also noted that one school in category 2 had not received any funding and several schools not on the contenders' list were included in the PFI announcement.

The Committee agreed to seek an early meeting with the Minister for Education to discuss the methodology used and the basis upon which decisions were reached.

3. Evidence Session on the outcome of the Focus Groups with parents, teachers and pupils in the Belfast, Fermanagh and Tyrone areas. (Public Session)

The Chairman welcomed Ms Rhona Reid, Research and Evaluation Services, and Ms Alison Montgomery, Senior Assembly Researcher to the meeting to discuss the outcome of the Focus Groups in Belfast, Fermanagh and Tyrone, commissioned by the Committee to gauge the views of parents, teachers and pupils. Ms Reid gave an overview on the findings of the Focus Groups and then answered members' questions. Issues discussed included:

  • Pupil views of the 11+ and its importance
  • Whether preparation interfered with other activities
  • What their parents/teachers felt about the test
  • Parents' opinions of the transfer test and of secondary level education
  • Parents' views on possible alternative systems
  • Teachers' opinions of the current system and of selection by examination
  • Teachers' views of the impact of the common curriculum
  • Teachers' views of possible alternative structures

Hansard recorded the evidence for publication in due course.

4. Evidence Session with the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) on Post-Primary Education

As part of the Committee's consideration of the Review of Post-Primary Education, the Chairman welcomed Mr McKee and Mr Scott from NASUWT to the meeting. They gave oral evidence on the NASUWT's submission to the Committee on post-primary education and this was followed by a detailed question and answer session.

Areas discussed included:

  • The problems with the current transfer test
  • Most appropriate age to transfer to post primary education
  • The need to achieve parity of esteem between academic and vocational education and between different qualifications and examinations
  • Possible systems of comprehensive or 'all inclusive' education and the use of setting/streaming
  • The danger of some grammar schools becoming independent, fee-paying schools
  • How to achieve a flexible system
  • The need for job security and retention of terms and conditions for teachers in any changes

Hansard recorded the evidence for publication in due course.

5. Discussion of the Committee response on the 'Myths & Reality' Report on Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood

A draft Committee response on the 'Myths and Reality' Report on Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood and further information from the Department of Education had been circulated. The Committee agreed to discuss the draft response at the next meeting on 15 March with members submitting any additional comments for inclusion prior to that date.

6. Chairman's Business

  1. The Chairman advised members that arrangements had been made for he and the Deputy Chairman to meet with representatives of the NSPCC to discuss their education programme and 'Full Stop' campaign on Tuesday 13 March. He invited any available members to join them at the meeting.
  2. Copies of a letter from the Chairman of the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee regarding the Northern Ireland Karate-Do Wado Kai organisation had been circulated. The Chairman explained that representatives of the organisation had given a presentation to the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee during which they raised the organisation's wish to have karate listed on the curriculum of school sports. The Chairman of the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee had asked the Education Committee to consider the issue. The Committee agreed to forward the information to the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment and request that it be considered as part of ongoing Review of the Curriculum, an element of which is education in physical skills.

7. Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Committee will be held on Thursday 15 March 2001 at 10.45 a.m.

The meeting closed at 4.14 p.m.

Committee Chairman

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