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

Apologies: Mr T Benson
Mr J Fee

In Attendance: Mrs G Ardis Miss J Adair
Mrs C Darrah Ms C Angelone

The Committee met at 10.26 a.m. in private session.

The Chairman informed members that Mr Benson was unwell and members agreed to send their best wishes to him and his family.

1. Minutes of Meeting of Thursday 26 October

The minutes of the meeting of Thursday 26 October 2000 were agreed.


2. Matters Arising from the Minutes of Proceedings

    1. Copies of the agreed Committee response to the Environment Committee's inquiry into school transport had been circulated.

Mrs Bell joined the meeting at 10. 31 a.m.

  1. The Chairman, Deputy Chairman and other Committee members had met with representatives of the New Opportunities Fund on Monday 6 November.
    Copies of a note of the meeting and information handed out by the representatives were distributed.
  2. Copies of the Chairman's letter to the Minister for Education regarding appointments to the Consultative Forum for Post-Primary Education and the issue of significant submissions and the Minister's response were circulated.
  3. Following further discussion of correspondence considered at the meeting on 26 October, the Clerk was instructed to proceed as previously agreed.

Mrs Bell left the meeting at 10.46 a.m.


3. Chairman's Business

  1. The Chairman advised members that other correspondence had been received of a similar nature as that just discussed. Members agreed that it should be handled in the same way with the meetings to be arranged on the same day if possible.
  2. The Chairman informed members that the Department of Education had sent the Committee a consultation paper reviewing the viability criteria for Irish-Medium and Integrated Schools. The closing date for submissions on the proposals was 11 December. Members agreed that an initial discussion on the handling of the issue would take place at the next meeting of the Committee.
  3. The Chairman advised the Committee that arrangements had been made for him and the Deputy Chairman to meet a delegation to discuss the issue of disruptive pupils in schools on Monday 13 November. He invited members to attend if they were available.
  4. The Chairman reminded members that Tuesday 14 November was the closing date for tabling oral questions for the Minister for Education. The questions would be answered on Monday 27 November.
  5. The Chairman informed members that he had been invited, in his capacity as Committee Chairman, to participate as a panel member on UTV's Insight programme on the selection procedure.

Mrs Bell rejoined the meeting at 10.49 a.m.


4. Discussion of the Format for the Public Session

The Committee, in preparing for the public session, discussed the issues they wished to raise with the Minister on the draft Programme for Government.


5. Discussion with the Minister for Education on the draft Programme for Government (Public Session)

Mr McHugh joined the meeting at 11.12 a.m.

The Chairman welcomed the Minister for Education, Mr Martin McGuinness, and his officials, Mr Stephen Peover, Deputy Secretary and Mr David Woods, Head of Finance, to the meeting. A wide-ranging discussion ensued on the draft Programme for Government. Key issues discussed included the Department's New TSN Action Plan and draft Equality Scheme; education priorities within the draft Programme for Government; performance measures and annual targets focusing on outcomes to assist measurement; Public Service Agreements; underachievement; a review of administrative arrangements; education partnerships; and the review of post primary education.

The Minister asked the Chairman to send his best wishes to Mr Benson and his family.

Mr Gallagher left the meeting at 11.16 a.m. and returned at 11.18 a.m.
Mrs Bell left the meeting at 11.24 a.m. and returned at 11.28 a.m.
Mr Gallagher left the meeting at 12.00 noon and returned at 12.07 p.m.

The Chairman thanked the Minister and officials for the discussion and they left the meeting.

The meeting was adjourned at 12.10 p.m. and reconvened at 12.15 p.m. in private session

Following a short discussion, members agreed that the Clerk should prepare a draft Committee paper on the Programme for Government, based on the issues and concerns discussed with the Minister.


6. Discussion of the Committee's response to the Finance and Personnel Committee regarding the Budget Proposals

A draft Committee response to the Committee for Finance and Personnel on the proposed budget for the Department of Education had been circulated. Following a discussion, Mrs Lewsley formally proposed that the draft response should be adopted as the Committee response and sent to the Committee for Finance and Personnel. Mrs Bell seconded the proposal. The outcome of the vote was:

For the Proposal Against the Proposal Abstentions

Mrs E Bell
Mr T Gallagher
Mrs P Lewsley
Mr B McElduff
Mr G McHugh

Mr S Wilson (Deputy Chairman)
Mr O Gibson

Mr D Kennedy (Chairman)
Mr K Robinson

Mr Wilson requested that the minutes record that he dissented with only one issue regarding the draft response. He was concerned that Irish-Medium education should not receive support to the detriment of other elements of the education system.
Mr McElduff wished it to be recorded that support for Irish-Medium education would be addressing the lack of support it had received in the past.

Members instructed the Clerk to obtain information on the proposed allocation and distribution of funding between traveller groups and the various ethnic groups.

A draft letter from the Chairman to the Minister for Education seeking clarification on the various matters in the Spending Review 2001/02 had been circulated and was also agreed for issue.


7. Discussion of the Committee's handling of the consultation process on Post-Primary Education

A paper outlining a proposed programme for presentations to the Committee on alternative systems of post-primary education and for holding focus groups to gauge parents', pupils' and teachers' views had been circulated. Following discussion, members agreed to the presentations. Members also agreed to pilot the focus groups in Belfast and review the outcome.

A draft letter from the Chairman to Mr Gerry Burns, seeking clarification of a variety of issues arising from the discussion on 26 October had been circulated. The Committee agreed the letter to Mr Burns.

Mrs Lewsley left the meeting at 12.51 p.m. and Mrs Bell left the meeting at 12.53 p.m.


8. Discussion of the Committee's handling of the consultation process on the School Performance Tables

The Chairman advised the Committee that he had written to the Minister for Education confirming his attendance at the meeting on 14 December to discuss the proposed outcome of the consultation exercise on School Performance Tables. He also informed members of the arrangements in place to assist the Committee in considering this issue.


9. Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Committee will be held on Thursday 16 November at 10.15 a.m. in Room 135.


The meeting closed at 1.00 p.m.

Committee Chairman

November 2000

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