Mr D Kennedy (Chairman)
Mr S Wilson (Deputy Chairman)
Mrs E Bell
Mr J Fee
Mr T Gallagher
Mr O Gibson
Mr T Hamilton
Mrs P Lewsley
Mr G McHugh
Mr B McElduff
Mr K Robinson

In Attendance:
Mr T Logue
Mrs J McMurray
Miss J Adair
Ms C Angelone

The Committee met at 10.25 a.m. in private session.

The Chairman formally welcomed Mr Tom Hamilton to the Education Committee. He also welcomed Mr Tony Logue who was acting as Clerk to the Committee in the absence of Mrs Christine Darrah.

1.Minutes of the Meeting of 1 February 2001

The minutes of the meeting of 1 February 2001 were agreed.

2.Matters Arising from the Minutes of proceedings

  1. The Chairman advised members that the Education Committee visit to Germany from 6 to 9 February had been most useful and informative. Notes of the meetings held with education officials and teachers were being prepared and would be circulated as soon as possible.
  2. The Committee response on the Schools Capital Building Programme 2001/02 had been circulated.
  3. A response from the Minister for Education to the Committee's request for further clarification on issues surrounding the review of the viability criteria for Irish-medium and Integrated schools had been circulated.
  4. The Chairman advised members that a note of the briefing by Professor Ken Robinson on the 'Unlocking Creativity' Report had been circulated. Members agreed that, in view of the workload associated with the ongoing review of Post-primary education, the Committee would not submit a formal response on the report.
  5. It was noted that television monitors had been installed in the meeting rooms.
  6. The Chairman clarified the position with regard to the attendance of party advisers/support staff at closed Committee meetings.
  7. The Committee agreed the dates of 8 and 9 March and a broad outline programme for the proposed visit to Scotland. Members instructed the Clerk to make the necessary arrangements and prepare a detailed programme for consideration.
  8. The Committee noted the written submissions received on the review of post-primary education and instructed the Clerk to arrange oral evidence sessions and to provide details of other bodies to be contacted for comment on the review. The Committee also agreed that the Clerk should identify suitable dates for a possible visit to the Republic of Ireland.

3. Chairman's Business

  1. A letter from the Minister for Education highlighting his agreement to postpone the introduction of changes arising from the Review of the Curriculum from September 2002 until September 2003 was noted by the Committee.
  2. Advance copies of the Spring Supplementary Estimates for 2000/01 and the Vote on Account for 2001/02 had been provided by the Chairman of the Committee for Finance and Personnel. The Committee noted that copies may be subject to amendment.

4. Discussion of the Committee Response on the Department of Education's draft Public Service Agreement

A draft Committee response on the Department of Education's draft Public Service Agreement was circulated. Following discussion, the response was agreed with one amendment.

5. Discussion of the proposed Statutory Rule (Public Session)

The Chairman welcomed Mr Jackson, Mr McGuigan and Mr Armstrong to the meeting. Mr Jackson outlined Regulations 4 and 7 of the proposed General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (Constitution) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001. This was followed by a detailed question and answer session which covered the principles behind the composition of the General Teaching Council, the need to ensure a balanced representation of all sectors of education and industry and commerce; eligibility for election to the Council; and the representation of the independent school sector.

The Committee stated that it would highlight members' views and comments and officials agreed to take account of these prior to the Statutory Rule being laid before the Assembly. The Chairman thanked the officials for the discussion and they left the meeting.

Mrs Bell joined the meeting at 11.27 a.m.

The Committee agreed that the Clerk would prepare a draft Committee response, based on the issues and concerns discussed with officials, for consideration at the next meeting of the Committee.

6. Discussion of the 'Myths & Reality' Report on Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood

The Chairman welcomed Mrs Jendoubi and Ms Potter to the meeting. Mrs Jendoubi gave an overview of the education issues contained in the recommendations of the Report followed by questions from the members. Key issues discussed included available guidelines on Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE); training of teachers nominated to teach RSE; the provision and funding of schemes to ensure pregnant and parenting teenage mothers remained in education; and the need for co-operation between the various agencies and government bodies involved in the care of pregnant and parenting teenagers.

Mr Fee joined the meeting at 11.55 a.m.

The Chairman thanked the officials for a useful discussion and they left the meeting. Members agreed to submit views and comments to the Clerk for inclusion in a draft Committee response for consideration at the next meeting of the Committee on 22 February.

7.Any other business

  1. Mr McElduff asked the Chairman for clarification regarding his remarks on the Irish language made at a council meeting and reported in a newspaper article. The Chairman advised member that the remarks were made in a personal capacity and not as Chairman of the Education Committee.

8.Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Committee will be held on Thursday 22 February 2001.

The meeting closed at 12.19 p.m.

Committee Chairman
February 2001

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