Mr D Kennedy (Chairman)
Mr S Wilson (Deputy Chairman)
Mrs E Bell
Mr T Gallagher
Mr O Gibson
Mr T Hamilton
Mr G McHugh

Mr J Fee
Ms P Lewsley
Mr B McElduff
Mr K Robinson

In Attendance:
Mrs C Darrah (Committee Clerk)
Mrs V Artt (Assistant Committee Clerk)
Ms M Austin (Assistant Committee Clerk)
Ms S O'Neill (Administrative Support)

The Committee met at 12.42 p.m. in private session.

1. Minutes of the Meeting of 14 March 2002

The minutes of the meeting of 14 March 2002 were agreed.

2. Matters Arising

(i) Copies of responses from the Minister of Education regarding the Threshold Assessment Scheme and the current position on the number of awards paid had been circulated for information. The Committee noted that there were 243 outstanding applications of which 199 would be paid before the end of March 2002. The Department of Education was waiting on further information and documentation for the remaining applications and would make every effort to pay these as quickly as possible.

(ii) A copy of a letter from the Speaker in relation to a Public Petition laid in the Assembly regarding the proposed closure of Mosside Primary School and further information provided by the Department of Education on the matter had been circulated. The Committee noted that the statutory two month objection period to the closure ended on 1 April 2002 and agreed to write to the Minister of Education requesting information on the decision.

(iii) The Minister of Education had responded to the Committee's comments on the Capital Building Programme 2002 and the letter was circulated at the meeting. Details of the 2002 Programme had been announced earlier and a number of members raised issues. Following a discussion the Committee agreed to consider the 2002 announcement, the Minister's response and previous Capital Building Programmes in detail after the Easter recess.

3. Committee Business

(i) Information provided by the Department of Education regarding proposals for the next bidding round for Infrastructure Funds had been circulated. The Committee discussed the information in detail and, noting that funds were limited, agreed a list of priority bids. The Committee also agreed the details of an additional bid to be submitted.

Mr T Gallagher left the meeting at 1.08 p.m.

4. Committee Responses

(i) A copy of a draft response to the Minister of Education on the Review of School Information and Prospectuses had been circulated. The Committee discussed and agreed the response with one addition.

Mrs E Bell left the meeting at 1.14 p.m.

The meeting was suspended.

Mr T Hamilton joined the meeting at 1.17 p.m.

The meeting was reconvened.

(ii) The Minister of Education had provided further clarification regarding a number of questions in the draft Household Response Form in connection with the Review of Post-Primary Education. The Committee considered the further information and following a discussion, agreed a response subject to a number of additions.

(iii) A copy of a research paper on the Proposed Terms of Reference for the Review of Public Administration had been circulated. The Committee agreed to consider a draft response at the meeting scheduled for 11 April 2002.

5. Chairman's Business

(i) The Committee noted a response from the Minister of Education regarding the consultation exercise on Compulsory Nutritional Standards For School Meals and agreed to request further information on the likely timescale for the full results of the consultation exercise and his proposals on the way forward.

(ii) The Committee noted a letter received from the Chairman of the Social Development Committee regarding an Inquiry into Homelessness. The evidence received had highlighted that homelessness was not just a matter for the Department of Social Development and there were clear relationships with services provided by the Department of Education.

(iii) The Committee noted two resolutions passed at the Reconvened 2001 Annual UTU Conference. The Committee agreed to respond to the Ulster Teachers' Union on the issues raised regarding the use of PFI/PPP, the funding of special needs and the treatment of teachers' salaries. The Committee also agreed to request further information from the Department of Education on funding of teachers' training.

6. Date and Time of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Committee was scheduled for Thursday 11 April 2002 at 10.15 a.m. in Room 135, Parliament Buildings.

The Committee was adjourned at 1.43 p.m.

Committee Chairman

March 2002

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