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

Apologies:Ms P Lewsley

In Attendance:Mrs C Darrah Mrs V Artt
Mr D Stevenson
Ms S O'Neill

The Committee met at 10.30 a.m. in private session.

The Chairman welcomed Mr David Stevenson, a new member of staff to the Committee Office.

1. Minutes of the Meeting of 7 February 2002

The minutes of the meeting of 7 February 2002 were agreed.

2. Matters Arising

A copy of the Chairman's letter to the Minister of Education regarding the quality control mechanisms in place in connection with the Threshold Assessment Scheme had been circulated for information.

A copy of a letter to the Department of Education regarding the consultation document on a Bill of Rights from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission had also been circulated for information.

Copies of a response from the Chairperson of the Business Committee regarding the time allowed for the debate of Committee Reports had been circulated. The Committee briefly discussed the response and agreed that the Chairman should raise the matter at the Chairpersons' Liaison Group.

Copies of a response from the Minister of Education to the Committee's letter regarding a fatal school transport accident in Fermanagh had been circulated. Following a short discussion the Committee agreed to request further information on the Safer Routes to School initiative.

The Committee discussed a response from the Minister of Education regarding the maintenance of pay differentials for Principals and Vice-Principals and agreed to write again regarding the matter.

A response from the Minister of Education to the Committee's letter supporting the CCEA bid for capital funding to improve its computer systems was discussed. The Committee agreed that it wished to be kept informed of the position.

The Committee noted a response from the Department of Education regarding the timing of the Schools Capital Building Programme 2002 announcement and agreed to inform the Minister of Education that members wished to discuss the matter at the meeting scheduled for 21 February.

he Committee noted a letter from the Minister of Education regarding the Budget Addition for Schools 2002/03 and the methodology used to allocate the additional £21.36 million.

3. Chairman's Business

The Chairman advised the Committee that a draft document entitled a Framework for Developing Northern Ireland's Participation in the European Union, prepared by the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister, had been referred by the Committee of the Centre for comment. Following a short discussion the Committee agreed a response to the Committee of the Centre. The Committee also agreed to request further information from the Department of Education on the issues raised in the document.

The Chairman informed the Committee that details of the Department of Education's February Monitoring Return had been received. The Committee agreed to consider the matter at the next meeting.

4. Committee Response to the Department of Education's Draft Service Delivery Agreement

The Committee considered a response to the Department of Education on its draft Service Delivery Agreement. The response was agreed subject to one addition.

5. Consultation Exercise on Post-Primary Education

(i) The Chairman advised the Committee that the Minister of Education had confirmed that the Committee would receive the Household Response Pamphlet in draft form for consideration and comment prior to its issue. The Committee agreed that the matter should be placed on the agenda of the meeting scheduled for 7 March 2002.

(ii) The Chairman welcomed Departmental officials Dr Mark Browne, Mr Leslie Ashe and Ms Roberta Sterling to the meeting. Dr Browne explained that the purpose of the video and supporting materials was to provide information about the Review of Post-Primary Education and explain the context, explain the proposals put forward in the Burns Report and provide information on the consultation exercise and how to respond. He also outlined the timescale for the process. The Chairman thanked the officials for their contribution and stated that they may be required to attend a further meeting to answer any questions. They then left the meeting.

(iii) The Committee viewed the video and considered the supporting materials. The Committee agreed to schedule a meeting on Tuesday 19 February 2002 to consider the matter further.

6. Date and Time of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Committee was scheduled for Tuesday 19 February 2002 at 12.30 p.m. in Room 152, Parliament Buildings. A meeting of the Committee was also scheduled for Thursday 21 February 2002 at 10.15 a.m. in Room 135, Parliament Buildings.

The Committee was adjourned at 12.05 p.m.

Committee Chairman
February 2002

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