Present: Mr D Kennedy (Chairman)
Mr S Wilson (Deputy Chairman)
Mrs E Bell
Mr O Gibson
Mr T Hamilton
Mr G McHugh
Mr K Robinson

Apologies:Mr T Gallagher
Mrs P Lewsley
Mr B McElduff

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

The Committee met at 11.30 a.m. in private session.

1.Minutes of the Meeting of 29 March 2001

The minutes of the meeting of 29 March 2001 were agreed.

2. Matters arising from the Minutes of Proceedings

    1. The Chairman advised members that he had written to Mrs Lewsley

expressing the Committee's good wishes for a speedy recovery.

    1. A draft response to the Minister for Education regarding the proposed

timetable for the Review of School Information and Prospectuses was discussed and agreed by the Committee.

  1. Copies of research on the effects of children carrying heavy school bags had been circulated to members.

3. Discussion with Department of Education officials on Proposals for Standards for Pre-School Settings (Public)

The Chairman welcomed Mrs Ingram and Mr Fitzsimons, from the Teachers and School Policy and Improvement Division and Mrs Crawford from the Education and Training Inspectorate to the meeting. Mrs Ingram gave a brief background on the proposals for standards to inform inspection in early education and childcare settings. This was followed by a question and answer session. The key issues discussed included which standards and/or indicators should be mandatory, the monitoring and enforcement of the proposed standards, staff training and qualifications and the implications for providers, the role of parents, financial and resource implications of the standards and the timeframe to reach the standards if they became mandatory.

The Chairman thanked the officials for a useful and informative discussion and they left the meeting. Members agreed to submit their views/comments on the proposals to the Clerk for inclusion in a draft Committee response for consideration at the next meeting on 26 April.

4. Discussion of the proposed Statutory Rule on the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (Constitution) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001 (Private)

The Committee discussed the response from the Minister of Education regarding the concerns raised about the proposed Statutory Rule on the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (Constitution) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001. Members agreed to seek a meeting with the Minister to discuss the concerns further.

5. Discussion of Committee Work Programme

A draft forward work programme for the period from the Easter Recess to the Summer Recess was circulated. The Committee discussed and agreed a work programme, which included revised dates for the postponed visit to Scotland and further evidence sessions on the Review of Post-Primary Education.

Members noted the launch of the Review of LMS Funding Formula and agreed to write to the Minister of Education regarding the delay in taking forward the consultation exercise and the timetable for the Review.

The Chairman briefly discussed the possible appointment of a specialist adviser on the Review of Post-Primary Education with members.

6. Chairman's Business

  1. The Chairman advised members that the Minister of Education had replied to the Committee's letter on the Capital Building Programme 2001/02. Arrangements had been made for the Minister to attend the Committee meeting on 3 May to discuss the matter.
  2. The Chairman informed members that the Department of Education's Equality Scheme had been published recently and copies had been circulated. Arrangements would be made for Departmental Officials to discuss equality issues with the Committee in the near future.
  3. Copies of correspondence received by the Chairman regarding a dispute between parents and the Board of Governors of an Integrated School had been circulated. The Committee noted that an enquiry was ongoing into the issues but agreed to write to the Department seeking clarification on the general policy regarding payment of legal bills.
  4. The Chairman advised members that Mr Bunting, Chairperson of the Northern Ireland Teachers' Council, had written seeking a meeting with the Committee to discuss the background to the NITC Salary Claim and the establishment of an inquiry into teachers' salaries and conditions of service. The Committee agreed that arrangements should be made for a delegation from the Northern Ireland Teachers' Council to meet with the Chairman, Deputy Chairman and other available Committee members.

7. Any other Business

  1. The Clerk to the Finance and Personnel Committee had advised that, as part of its Inquiry into Public Private Partnerships and Private Finance Initiatives, the Committee for Finance and Personnel would be undertaking a number of visits, one of which would include looking at schools. The Committee wished to invite a representative of the Education Committee to participate in the visit. Members agreed that, if the dates were suitable, the Chairman should represent the Committee.

8. Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Committee will be held on Thursday 26 April 2001 at 10.30 a.m.

The meeting closed at 1.15 p.m.

Committee Chairman

April 2001

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