WESTERN EDUCATION AND LIBRARY BOARD A meeting of the Western Education and Library Board was held in the Boardroom, Headquarters Office, Omagh, on Thursday 9 October 2008 at 11.00 a.m. PRESENT: Rev R Herron (Chairman) Mr P Duffy (Vice-Chairman) Councillor A Brolly Mrs F Brunt Dr J Cornyn Miss M Cunningham Councillor M Devenney Miss K Doherty Councillor M Durkan Councillor P Fleming Mrs R Fox Councillor S Gallagher Mrs S Hogg Councillor D Hussey Councillor R Irvine Councillor P Logue Mrs B Maguire Councillor D McAleer Mrs G McCafferty Mr E McCaffrey Councillor P McDonnell Mr V McKelvey Councillor J O’Kane Councillor T O’Reilly Mr A Orr Mr A Smyth Mr R Tierney Mr W Wilson IN ATTENDANCE: Mr B Mulholland (Chief Executive) Mr P Mackey (Head of Teaching, Learning, Curriculum & Youth) Ms H Osborn (Head of Libraries & Information) Mrs R Watterson (Chief Administrative Officer) Mr O Harkin (Chief Finance Officer) Dr C Mangan (Head of Children & Young People’s Services) Mrs P Ward (Corporate Development Officer) Mrs A Devine (Communications Officer) Mrs N Young (Recorder) Mr G Boyd (Chief Executive Designate of ESA) (For Item 2) Mr J McGrath (Deputy Secretary of DE) “ Rev Herron, outgoing Chairman, extended a welcome to Mr Gavin Boyd, Chief Executive Designate, ESA and Mr John McGrath, Deputy Secretary, DE, who were in attendance to update members on RPA progress. Rev Herron then reminded members of the decision taken earlier in the year that his term of office as Chairman would end in October and that the Vice-Chairman, Mr Duffy, would assume the position of Chair. He thanked the members for their courtesy and guidance over the past few years. Mr Duffy took the Chair and thanked Rev Herron for his commitment and expertise in managing the Board and said that he looked forward to the challenge of guiding the Board towards the implementation of ESA. 1. B/08/10/1 APOLOGIES An apology for non-attendance was received from Councillor Coyle and Mr Reilly. The Chairman welcomed Councillor P Logue to her first meeting of the Board. Councillor Logue was replacing Councillor M McLaughlin. B/08/10/2 ATTENDANCE OF MR GAVIN BOYD AND MR JOHN McGRATH TO UPDATE MEMBERS ON RPA PROGRESS The Chairman welcomed Mr Boyd, and Mr McGrath, to the meeting and thanked them for agreeing to update the Members on RPA progress. Mr McGrath said he was pleased to have been given the opportunity to respond to the concerns which Members had raised and apologised for the Department’s delay in responding to correspondence from the Chair of the Board’s Audit Committee. Mr McGrath began by saying that RPA had two strands. The first strand related to the transformation of the Department of Education with the focus on improving educational outcomes for children and young people. The second strand involves oversight of the establishment of ESA and the winding down of the five Education and Library Boards, CCEA and CCMS which was detailed in the Programme for Government. He acknowledged that there were concerns and that difficulties were being encountered by the Education and Library Boards but this was due to the political impasse which was delaying the legislation being taken forward. Councillor Irvine said that the RPA Committee and Audit Committee Members had been seeking answers to a number of questions for the past 22 months and that DE had failed to adequately respond within a reasonable timescale. He added that he is continuing to seek information on the methodology for the implementation of the Review of Public Administration in Education; clarity on future Governance procedures; what categories of staff will be affected by the proposed changes and the timescale for the redundancy process and an assurance that ESA will take place on 1 April 2009. Mrs Burnt drew attention to the disparity in the figures with regard to the number of legacy organisations and also expressed concern about the uncertainty in the hand-over date which she said was creating uncertainty for the schools and as a consequence uncertainty for children’s education. In responding to Members’ queries, Mr McGrath confirmed that he, as the accountable officer in DE, was satisfied that the correct Governance procedures were in place. As regards the winding-down of organisations and hand-over to ESA he said this will take place on 1 April 2009 or as soon as possible thereafter depending on the political climate. 2. Councillor McDonnell expressed concern about the hand-over date and after tracking the events since the announcement of RPA in 2006 he said that the Minister should be advised to postpone the implementation of ESA until 1 April 2010. Councillor Gallagher also agreed that ESA should be postponed until 2010 and said RPA had caused a lot of frustration amongst Board Members and staff and there were also concerns about recruiting staff due to the vacancy control policy. In response to a question from Mrs Hogg, Mr McGrath confirmed that there would not be a gap between the winding up of Boards and the implementation of ESA. Mr McKelvey in complimenting Mr McGrath on his determination to move ahead with the implementation of the RPA process stressed the need for corporation to alleviate any blockages in the system. Councillor Hussey said it appeared there was a tendency to hide behind the legislative process and queried whether the Education Committee of the Assembly would eventually scrutinise the legislation. He also said that the Minister should be informed that the 1 April 2009 was not a feasible date for the implementation of ESA. Councillor Irvine, in reiterating his concerns, asked that he also be provided with a copy of the ESAIT Risk Register; a copy of the PRINCE 2 Project Initiation Document; budget information; the contingency plans which will be in place for the children next year; how it was intended to deal with the non-implementation of ESA on 1 April 2009 and to whom Mr Boyd was accountable. He concluded by saying that the new model appeared to be based on blank policies. Mr McGrath, in acknowledging Members’ fears about the uncertainty, said this was inevitable since there had been little change for a number of years and now the proposed change was going to be difficult. He added that the primary purpose of the Review of Public Administration was to improve the educational outcomes for children and young people. Evidence had indicated that the Education System is not serving all children well and changes are necessary. He went on to say that the process had two strands i.e. legislation timetable and operational issues. The ultimate objective was to achieve a smooth winding-down of organisations to the transition of ESA. Mr McGrath advised Members that political decisions have been taken and these have to be supported. He said that an Outline Business Case has been approved by DE and by the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP). He concluded by saying he would relay Members’ concerns to the Minister and to DE colleagues. Mr O’Kane left the meeting at 12.50 p.m. Mr Boyd then gave a power-point presentation which showed statistics on the educational outcomes of pupils and comparisons across Northern Ireland; the proposed changes in management; the savings which will be achieved from the proposed changes and the organisational design. Miss Doherty said there was much presumption that ESA would improve the learning system for children and young people and asked for 3. clarification on how this would be achieved. She also asked for information on where the present system had failed. In response, Mr Boyd said that as part of the Programme for Government, the Minister had taken the view that this was an area which needed to be addressed. He drew attention to the example and statistics in the presentation and said that it was evident that the outcomes of young people attending Catholic schools had significantly improved since CCMS was established. He added that the focus was on the quality of learning and teaching in the classroom, supporting school principals and the professional development of teachers. In response to queries from Mr McCaffrey, Mr Boyd said that Development Plans were in place and his responsibility was to make sure that the Plans were implemented. Mr McCaffrey expressed disappointment that these plans had not been shared with the Board. Mr Boyd, in responding to other queries from Members, said that every member of staff will be protected in the draft legislation (TUPE) and that a figure of £50m has been earmarked for a Voluntary Severance Package for Senior Management. He added that schools would be given some autonomy and would be encouraged to work with each other to improve educational outcomes. The savings taken from the Administration Budget would be used for priority initiatives specified by the Minister. He confirmed that the reason for change was to improve the educational outcomes for children and young people. Councillor Gallagher and Councillor Durkan left the meeting at 1.20 p.m. The Chairman, concluded the discussion. He then thanked Mr McGrath and Mr Boyd for their attendance and contribution to the debate. After further discussion it was agreed that a letter highlighting Members’ concerns would be framed and sent to the Minister. It was noted that the Minister had agreed to receive a deputation from the Board and it was agreed, in the circumstances, that the RPA Committee would make the necessary arrangements. The meeting adjourned for lunch at 1.40 p.m. Mr Orr and Councillor Devenney left the meeting at 1.40 p.m. The meeting resumed at 2.30 p.m. B/08/10/3 MINUTES OF MEETING HELD ON 11 SEPTEMBER 2008 The Minutes of the meeting held on 11 September 2008 were adopted on the proposal of Councillor Irvine, seconded by Miss Cunningham. B/08/10/4 MATTERS ARISING (i) Item B/08/09/3 (ii) Area Based Planning Groups. In response to queries from Mrs Brunt, the Chief Executive said that the Board had been 4. asked to submit the names of two officers to serve on the Area Based Planning Group. He added that other organisations would also have been asked to submit names. As regards the Alternative Test for Academic Selection, no further information has been received. (ii) Item B/08/10/3(iii) Warning Lights Outside School Premises. In response to queries from Councillor McDonnell and Councillor O’Reilly, the Chief Administrative Officer said that discussions were ongoing between the Chief Transport Officer and the Department of the Environment, Roads Service. Councillor Hussey asked that a schedule for the installation of warning lights at schools in the WELB be made available. (iii) Item B/08/9/5 – DE letter regarding ‘Preparation for the Transition to ESA’. The Chief Executive clarified that the Board had written to the Minister for Education, Caitriona Ruane, conveying Members’ concerns and not to Minister Sammy Wilson, as had been suggested, since he was the Minister responsible for RPA in Local Government. (iv) Item B/08/9/6(ii) In response to a query from Councillor McAleer, the Chief Finance Officer (CFO) indicated that following a discussion with the NI Audit Office a questionnaire for all staff has been developed and published on the website. B/08/10/5 CHAIRMAN’S BUSINESS The Chairman, on behalf of Members, conveyed condolences to the family of the late Charlie McHugh who had been a member of the Board during the period 1997-2001. The Chairman welcomed Mrs P Logue to her first meeting of the Board. Mrs Logue was replacing Ms M McLaughlin. B/08/10/6 CHIEF EXECUTIVE’S BUSINESS The Chief Executive summarised his engagements since the September meeting of the Board. B/08/10/7 CORRESPONDENCE There was no correspondence. B/08/10/8 NIPSA DEPUTATION The Chief Executive advised Members that NIPSA Union had asked for a Deputation to be permitted to address the Board on issues relating to job evaluations and the differentials in pay for Education Welfare Officers (EWOs). Councillor Irvine and Mrs Maguire left the meeting at 2.45 p.m. 5. Mrs A Millar, Assistant Secretary NIPSA, Ms P Dodds, Branch Secretary NIPSA, Mrs A Wright (EWO), and Mr Joe McLaughlin, (EWO), members of the Deputation, were welcomed to the meeting. Mrs Millar thanked the Members for giving them the opportunity to address the meeting . She expressed her regret that the issues relating the pay scales of EWOs, which have been ongoing since 2002, had not yet been resolved. In acknowledging the offer of 2 additional points she said that NIPSA members felt that the offer did not recognise the comparative nature of their work with Social Workers. Mrs Millar detailed the circumstances which led to the proposed industrial action and added that, in light of the ongoing discussion surrounding the revised business case, it was decided to postpone the industrial action at this time. Mrs A Wright, EWO, then spoke at length on the role of the EWO and how it had changed over the past 16 years. She highlighted that in 2000 the 5 Education and Library Boards (ELBs) agreed that the only qualification to fulfil the extensive and evolving role of EWOs was that of ‘Social Worker’ but the remuneration offered by the ELBs to EWOs failed to reflect that which was offered to Social Workers. She expressed disappointment that EWOs were not valued the same as their social services counterparts. In conclusion she asked the Board to support the EWO pay claim and to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to resolve the 6½ year dispute. The Deputation left the meeting. Mr McCaffrey left the meeting at 3.20 p.m. B/08/10/9 REPORTS OF MEETINGS (i) Audit Committee held on 10 September 2008 Mrs Hogg, in proposing the adoption of the Report, drew attention to A/08/09/03 Review of Public Administration and said that a response had been received from the Permanent Secretary, Mr W Haire, and this would be brought to the next meeting of the Audit Committee. She then gave an account of the other business discussed at the meeting. The adoption of the Report was seconded by Councillor McDonnell and was agreed. (ii) Joint SELB/WELB Youth Committee held on 17 September 2008 Councillor O’Reilly, in proposing the adoption of the Report, expressed his gratitude to the Centre Manager of the Bawnacre Centre, Irvinestown for the hospitality extended to the Committee. He gave Members a detailed account of the business discussed at the meeting. The adoption of the Report was seconded by Miss Cunningham and was agreed. 6. (iii) Library and Corporate Services held on 18 September 2008 The Chairman, in proposing the adoption of the Report gave a detailed account of the business discussed at the meeting. He pointed out to Members that due to the NIAELB Conference taking place on 16 October it was agreed that the October meeting be rescheduled to take place on 20 November The adoption of the Report was seconded by Mrs Hogg and was agreed. (iv) Finance Committee held on 24 September 2008 In the absence of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Committee, the CFO presented the Report. He drew attention to F/09/08/3 Energy and Efficiency Services and said that with the increased energy costs and with the absence of additional funding the Board would not be in a position to assist schools financially. He referred to F/09/08/9 - 2007/08 Annual Report and Accounts and advised that these were now complete and awaiting ministerial approval. The Report was adopted on the proposal of Mr Duffy, seconded by Miss Doherty and was agreed. (v) Services Committee held on 24 September 2008 Mrs McCafferty, in proposing the adoption of the Report , gave a detailed account of the business discussed at the meeting. The adoption of the Report was seconded by Mr Wilson and was agreed. (vi) Children & Young People’s Services Committee held on 25 September 2008 Mrs Hogg, in proposing the adoption of the Report, drew attention to Item 7 – Educational Psychology: Staffing Contingencies and to the lengthy discussion which had taken place. It was noted that further updates would be brought to future meetings. She referred to Item 10 WELB Formal Statementing Procedure and proposed that the Statements listed be adopted. The adoption was seconded by Miss Cunningham. The adoption of the Report was seconded by Miss Cunningham and was agreed. Mrs McCafferty left the meeting at 3.45 p.m. (vii) Joint WELB/SELB Education Committee held on 25 September 2008 Miss Cunningham, in proposing the adoption of the Report, took Members through the business discussed at the meeting. She highlighted the presentation on the E2S Entitlement Framework and said that the feedback was very positive. 7. The adoption of the Report was seconded by Dr Cornyn and was agreed. (viii) Review of Public Administration Committee held on 24 September 2008 Mr Duffy presented the Report and gave a résumé of the business discussed at the meeting. He reminded Members it had been agreed that a Deputation should meet with the Minister and that at the next RPA meeting a list of questions could be formulated for the Deputation to discuss with the Minister. The Deputation would consist of Chair and Vice- Chair of the Board, Chairs of the Committees and Vice-Chairs of the Joint Committees. The Report was adopted on the proposal of Mr Duffy, seconded by Mrs Hogg. (ix) Teaching Appointments Committee 39th meeting held on 5 June 2008 The Report was noted. Councillor Hussey referred to the serious accident in which Mr David Crawford, Principal of Killen Primary School had been involved. He said that the Board of Governors and staff in the school were most appreciative of the support offered by Board officers. It was agreed to write to Mrs Crawford conveying Members’ best wishes for David’s speedy recovery. It was agreed to go into Committee on the proposal of Miss Cunningham, seconded by Mr Wilson. IN COMMITTEE B/08/10/10 HUMAN RESOURCES REPORT The Human Resources Report PE/2008/10/01 was adopted on the proposal of Mrs Hogg, seconded by Miss Cunningham. B/08/10/11 PROPERTY SERVICES REPORT There was no Report. It was agreed to go out of Committee on the proposal of Mr Wilson, seconded by Miss Cunningham. OUT OF COMMITTEE B/08/10/12 BOARDS OF GOVERNORS – APPOINTMENTS The following appointment was made on the proposal of Mr Wilson, seconded by Mrs Brunt: 8. Board Representative Belmont House Special School Mrs I Melaugh The following appointment was made on the proposal of Mrs Brunt, seconded by Miss Cunningham: Board Representative Ballinamallard PS Mrs R Kerr The following appointments were made on the proposal of Mr Tierney, seconded by Councillor O’Reilly: Board Representatives Drumduff/Roscavey Mrs J McNellis St Patrick’s PS, Castlederg Mrs J Dolan St Eugene’s Secondary School, Castlederg Ms B Harpur The following appointments were made on the proposal of Mrs Brunt, seconded by Miss Cunningham: Teacher Representatives Drumrane PS Mrs R Hylands Enniskillen Model PS Mrs A Keyes Newbuildings PS Mr K Baldrick 9. The following appointment was made on the proposal of Mr McKelvey, seconded by Councillor Hussey: Teacher Representative Strabane PS Mr D Gamble It was agreed to defer making appointments to the following schools until the next meeting: Ballycolman Nursery Limavady Nursery Ardstraw PS Ballougry Ps Donemana PS Groarty Controlled Integrated PS Good Shepherd PS St Brigid’s PS (Mountfield) St Columba’s Ps (Newbuildings) St Conor’s PS St Oliver Plunkett PS (Strathfoyle) St Therese’s Ps, Lenamore B/08/10/13 SEALING OF DOCUMENTS There were no documents for sealing. B/08/10/14 ANY OTHER BUSINESS There was no other business and the meeting concluded at 4.00 p.m. 10.
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