Council Minutes June 2021

06-October-21

CCMS/M/175/21

THE COUNCIL FOR CATHOLIC MAINTAINED SCHOOLS

MINUTES

The one hundred and seventy fifth Meeting of the

Council for Catholic Maintained Schools was held on

Wednesday 16 June 2021 at 1.30pm via ZOOM

PRESENT:

Bishop D McKeown, DD, Chair

Mrs P Carville, Vice Chair

Dame G Keegan

Mr T McCusker

Mr H Cox

Mrs D McNally

Mr E McDowell

Mr J McCormick

Mrs D Russell

Dr J Quinn

Ms W Gibbons

Mr J Allen

Dr A Kerr

Dr M McIvor

Mrs A Scott

Fr G Fox

Mrs C O’Neill

Dean K Donaghy

Mrs M Murphy-Higgins

Sr E Woulfe

Mgr P O’Reilly

Dr B Cummings

Fr L Boyle

Mrs K McElroy

Ms C Faloona

Mr J Beatty

Ms N Toman

IN ATTENDANCE: Mr G Campbell, Chief Executive [CEO]

Mr E O’Neill, Director of Workforce Planning and Governance [DWPG]

Ms M Corrigan, Director of Planning and School Provision [DPSP]

Ms R McCrory, Senior HR Adviser (item 9.2 only)

Mrs A Russell, Clerk to Council

175.1

WELCOME

The Chair welcomed all members to the meeting, in particular some new members (DE Representatives) attending Council for the first time:

· Mr John Allen

· Dr Ana Kerr

· Ms Nuala Toman

· Mr Michael James Beatty

· Dr Mary McIvor

ACTION

175.2

APOLOGIES

Ms C Farry, Fr A Mullan, Fr J Chester, Bishop M Router, Mrs M Smyth and Ms P Corrigan.

175.3

DECLARATION OF INTERESTS

Members were invited to declare any actual or perceived interest in any item of business or one that could be deemed as an area of interest.


Ms N Toman declared that she is currently employed by the Ulster of University and that her daughter attends Bunscoil Phobal Feirste.

Mr T McCusker declared that he was the Chair of Board of Governors for St Colman’s High School, Ballynahinch.

All Council Members

175.4

MINUTES OF COUNCIL MEETING OF 21 APRIL 2021

The minutes were agreed and signed as accurate. Proposed: Mr H Cox, Seconded: Mrs A Scott.

175.5

MATTERS ARISING.

175.5.1 - SKILLS AUDIT

The CEO advised that all members must complete this on an annual basis and requested that any outstanding forms be returned to the Clerk of Council.

175.5.2 – TEMPORARY VARIATIONS

CCMS officers have dealt with a number of schools’ issues over the previous weeks and positive outcomes have been achieved.

At the last meeting members sought clarification on any emerging data around the transfer process for post-primary children. The DPSP advised that officers are currently compiling data on post-primary transfer over the last three years. Pending other business this is hoped to be tabled and EPC in September and subsequently Council.

175.5.3 - APSG SUSTAINABILITY BASELINE REPORT

The DPSP advised that EPC discussed this DE report at its last meeting. Once this report is ready the DPSP will share with Council members.

175.5.4 – CURRICULUM AND QUALIFICATIONS SKILLS BOARD

The DPSP advised that once these reports were ready she would circulate to all members for their information.

175.5.5 – EXPERT PANEL ON EDUCATIONAL UNDERACHIEVEMENT IN NORTHERN IRELAND

It was agreed that this report would be shared with new members of Council.

All members for Action

DPSP for Action

DPSP for Action

AR for Action

175.6

CHAIRPERSON’S BUSINESS

175.6.1 – BEREAVEMENTS

The Chair, on behalf of Council, offered his condolences to the family of:

  • Catherine McCann, Senior Teacher in Creggan Primary School, Randalstown who passed away in 11 May 2021;
  • Edwina Beattie, teacher in Our Lady of Lourdes High School, Ballymoney, who passed away on 12 May 2021;
  • Fr Tony Corr, School Chaplain for St Mary’s PS, Barr, who passed away on 6 June 2021;
  • Conall Magee, Primary 1 pupil in Killean Primary School, who passed away on 14 June 2021.

The Chair led members in a short prayer.

175.6.2 – WORKING GROUP TO FOCUS ON ETHOS

The Chair advised that a Working Group was commissioned by Archbishop Eamon Martin in relation to ethos and to align the messaging from both CCMS and CSTS. Progress is continuing on the development of a specific paper on ethos and it is planned that this paper will come before Council in October.

175.6.3 – LETTER TO MINISTER WEIR

The Chair advised that a letter of thanks has been issued to Mr Peter Weir acknowledging his support to CCMS during his time as Minister for Education.

175.6.4 – GTCNI

Due to internal issues within GTCNI, CCMS has withdrawn their two members until matters are resolved.

175.7

CHIEF EXECUTIVE’S BUSINESS

175.7.1 CHIEF EXECUTIVE REPORT [CCMS/P/1/175/21]

The CEO noted the following areas in his report on matters arising since the meeting of Council in April 2021:

· COVID-19 – Continuing Impact on CCMS: COVID-19 continues to impact upon the work of CCMS. In line with the easing of NI Executive restrictions and risk assessment requirements, CCMS HQ has been able to facilitate a small number of shortlisting and recruitment over the past number of weeks. SLT will continue to keep this under review.

· Political Engagement: The CEO continues to engage with the Minister of Education and the Special Adviser on issues affecting Catholic maintained schools, including the continuing impact of COVID-19.

There has been ongoing engagement with other elected representatives on a range of issues including area planning; building and maintenance; educational matters; governance and the impact of COVID-19.

· Trade Union Engagement: CCMS continues to constructively engage with the NITC (Northern Ireland Teaching Council) to progress the substantive work arising from the nine reviews that were agreed as part of the pay and workload settlement in 2020 (delayed due to the continuing impact of COVID-19). Senior Officers continue to engage in the DE led Transition Group.

· Governance and Accountability Review Meeting (GAR): The most recent GAR meeting took place on 1 June 2021, chaired by DE Permanent Secretary, Dr Mark Browne.

Dr Browne has confirmed that he is available to come to the October meeting of Council.

· CCMS Resource Allocation: The final agreed resource allocation from DE to CCMS for the 2021/22 financial year is £3,383,000 (including depreciation). This does not include separate Earmarked allocations which are issued separately e.g. the Full Service Community Network.

A Financial Plan has been developed to confirm how the financial resources will be spent across the financial year.

· Director of Education – Recruitment Update: The recruitment process for the vacant Director of Education post commenced on Thursday 18 May 2021. Shortlisting and interviews are scheduled for June / early July.

· NIPSO Overview Report: The Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman (NIPSO) recently issued an Overview Report into the use of Restrictive Practices in Northern Ireland schools. The Ombudsman had also completed an investigation into a Catholic maintained school regarding the use of seclusion and restraint.

Both reports are currently under consideration and the Overview Report will assist the DE’s current review of Restraint and Seclusion.

One member suggested a joint response to this report from CCMS/EA as the main educational employers. The DWPG advised that DE has convened a group to review the guidance urgently.

175.8

CCMS DRAFT BUSINESS PLAN 2021/22 – [CCMS/P/2/175/21]

The CEO advised that following the last Council meeting DE requested some changes, highlighted in red. A meeting took place with some Council members to review the draft Business Plan on 7 June 2021, which was a useful and productive exercise. All comments from this have been incorporated into this latest draft.

DE use the same template for all NDPBs and CCMS will work closely with DE on all eight strategic priorities.

Members considered the draft plan and the CEO requested that any comments/amendments be forwarded to the Clerk to Council. Members commented on:

  • a lot of work having gone into moving forward with the OBA style Business Plan but that the potentially most significant challenge for us all would be children’s mental health and well-being which would require a longer term piece of work.

The CEO noted that all data requirements within the plan will need to be reviewed and CCMS will work closely with DE. This will improve for next year as all the training for OBA will be completed.

Dr B Cummings proposed and Dame G Keegan seconded the adoption of this draft Business Plan.

Action - All members

175.9

COUNCIL COMMITTEES

175.9.1 - AUDIT AND RISK ASSURANCE COMMITTEE MINUTES [ARAC/M/95/21]

Mrs A Scott, Chair of ARAC, presented a draft set of minutes from 27 April 2021. The following items were discussed:

ANNUAL REPORT AND ACCOUNTS 2020/21 & REPORT TO THOSE CHARGED WITH GOVERNANCE

Members of the ARAC attended a joint meeting of FPC on 17 May to review the Annual Report and Accounts 2020/21. Mrs Scott advised that CCMS officers took part in a rigorous audit process. One recommendation was the completion of Declaration of Interest forms by all Council members and CCMS officers which needed to be completed on an annual and ongoing basis. It was noted that all members and officers were required to declare all conflict of interests.

Mrs Scott thank the CFO and his team for the completion of the Annual Report and Accounts in a timely and professional manner. The members of ARAC met earlier in the morning to finalise the report and Mrs Scott recommended that the Annual Report and Accounts would be signed by the Chair of Council and the CEO.

Members felt that this was a comprehensive report. Mr T McCusker proposed and Mrs P Carville seconded the adoption of this report.

The Chair and CEO will sign this set of accounts after the meeting.

AUDIT AND RISK ASSURANCE COMMITTEE – CCMS SUMMARY RISK REGISTER [CCMS/P/3/175/21]

The Chair of ARAC referred members to the CCMS Summary Risk Register advising that members of SLT and the Chief Finance Officer review and update this register every quarter.

The CEO advised that a full copy of the Risk Register is available for members’ perusal.

Mrs Scott advised that Mrs J McCamley (former Council member) was co-opted to ARAC for one year and wanted to thank Mrs McCamley for her contribution to the committee.

175.9.2 FINANCE AND PERSONNEL COMMITTEE [FPC/M/167/21]

The Chair of FPC, Mr T McCusker, presented a draft set of minutes from 17 May 2021, where members of the ARAC joined the meeting to review the Annual Report and Accounts 2020/21. He noted that members were content with the report. The following items were also discussed:

FSCN

The Chair advised that members received a presentation from Ms Ann Pendleton, Project Manager for the Full Service Community Network (FSCN). He informed members that Ms Pendleton was invited to give a brief background of the work carried out by the team. The FSCN was established in 2008 and Ms Pendleton had been the project manager for the last five years. The team is made up of eight officers, six of whom are currently working in schools in the Upper Springfield and Falls areas. CCMS is the budget holder for the project.

CCMS FINANCIAL POSITON

All financial aspects were reviewed at this meeting. The target is to remain within 1% of the budget.

CODE OF CONDUCT

The main purpose of the Code was to set out the standards which apply to all members of the Council’s five Diocesan Education Committees (DECs) and will form part of the Scheme of Management (SoM) for DECs.

TEACHER SUSPENSIONS

New processes are now in place to ensure members of FPC are aware of all suspensions beyond three months. Members will review such at each meeting to ensure that all issues are resolved in a timely manner.

ANNUAL REPORT ON TEACHER APPOINTMENT

Due to the COVID-19, pandemic the recruitment outcomes for the 2020/21 year had been very different from previous years but it was hoped that next year’s figures would be back on track. The DWPG advised that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officers were dealing with twice as many teaching appointments and variations to contracts as normal.There were 49 active appointments for principals and vice-principals, 185 teaching appointments and several hundred variations to contracts.

REVISED SCHEME FOR THE APPOINTMENT OF SCHOOL LEADERS

Ms McCrory, Senior HR Adviser, introduced this item advising that the six week consultation period had recently closed and officers were reviewing all comments. Many schools, DEC members, BoGs and Trade Unions had taken the opportunity to respond. Officers would review the consultation response over the summer/autumn period and report back to Council once completed.

Ms McCrory advised that training on this scheme had commenced noting that the sessions were well received. This revised scheme would be used for all new leadership appointments from September 2021 onwards, in pilot until formally approved by Council and DE. It was noted that this scheme was used for approximately 80% of appointments during this academic year with some learning being taken forward.

It was noted that a number of schools approached CCMS to use this revised scheme for teaching appointments.

FETO

The Chair of FPC provided members with an update on the most recent discussions regarding the Fair Employment and Treatment Order (FETO).

Mr Chris Lyttle MLA had initiated a consultation on proposals for a Private Member's Bill to remove the exception of teachers from the Fair Employment and Treatment Order (NI) 1998. This consultation closed on 10 June 2021. The CEO, DWPG and Mr McCusker met with Mr Lyttle MLA to discuss the issue and to outline the role of CCMS and Catholic maintained schools.

A Working Group had been commissioned to take forward a piece of work to explain or outline:

· Who we are (Catholic Schools);

· Why Catholic schools exist;

· What makes a Catholic school;

· The role of the leader and teacher in a Catholic school;

· The case for retaining or protecting Catholic education;

· What needs to be done to maintain the high standards of Catholic education; and,

· What would be the impact of losing Catholic education?

The CEO noted that meetings with political parties would continue over the summer period.

One member felt that the CCMS website needed a revamp to promote the strengths of Catholic education. The CEO advised that a new website was in development and that this suggestion would be fed into that work.

GOVERNANCE TRAINING

The DWPG advised that all members had been invited to attend Governance training and Outcomes Based Accountability (OBA) training. CCMS had secured a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the Civil Service to provide the OBA training via the NICS training portal.

He advised that members interested in the training for the Revised Scheme for the Appointment of Schools Leaders should email the Clerk to Council.

175.9.3 EDUCATION PROVISION COMMITTEE [EPC/M/149/21]

The Vice-Chair, Fr G Fox, referred to the meeting on 12 May 2021. The following items were discussed:

DRAFT PROTOCOLS FOR IRISH MEDIUM UNITS

Members noted the draft Irish Medium (IM) protocols that had been shared. The DPSP noted work was ongoing with CnaG and that a CCMS IM policy was also being drawn up.

PRESENTATION FROM THE ULSTER UNIVERSITY – FUTURE SCHOOL

Fr Fox advised that EPC received a presentation from the Ulster University on the ‘Future Schools Project’ which aims to develop an approach to empower local communities to have a stronger voice in decision-making in relation to Area-Based Planning for sustainable primary schools in their area. He referred members to the comprehensive narrative in the minutes. CCMS will keep this project under review as it is valuable to the area planning process.

UPDATE FROM AREA PLANNING STEERING GROUP

Fr Fox advised that members received an update regarding the Minister’s intention to pilot a ‘normalisation’ process to accelerate the process to approve a permanent increase in a school’s approved enrolment numbers without the requirement of a development proposal. He advised that this is more complicated than the resetting/downsizing process as it involved increasing numbers and therefore may impact more on neighbouring schools. It is proposed for schools which have exceeded their approved numbers in 4 of the last 5 years to be aligned to their actual numbers. The exceeding of approved numbers would be evidenced through: actual enrolment being higher than approved enrolment; yr1 or 8 admissions being reached; and parental preference showing oversubscription.

CCMS met with DE on 30 March to express concerns. CCMS noted that: this approach was completely contrary to the area-solutions based approach as it was individual institution focused; it did not take account of contextual or demographic factors; the role of the planning authorities and the Trustees is removed; it reinforces the misconception of parental choice/demand rather than parental preference and could encourage perverse behaviours; the more negative impact on the non-selective sector again with the challenge of supernumerary pupil numbers not being counted in admissions; and, the blurring of the lines between variations for temporary growth (TVs) and area planning for planned growth.

There followed a lengthy discussion around this item and members felt that Council should write to the Minister of Education to express their serious concerns around this proposal. It was noted that parents have a right to express a school preference and pupils a right to a place but this will not always be in the first preference school. Members agreed that area planning will only work if all schools work together collaboratively to review the needs in the area and not progress the aims of an individual school.

It was agreed that Council would write to the Minister of Education.

RESEARCH PROPOSALS

Members of EPC discussed the need to reflect on the work of area planning to date, given the work on the new operational and strategic plans for September 2022. Two areas of research are proposed:

1. A multi-school study which will identify and evaluate factors on the management and delivery of CCMS and Trustee multi-school projects from inception to the present day, and;

2. Outcomes of the Post primary review.

175.9.4 EDUCATION CURRICULAR COMMITTEE [ECC/M/148/21]

The Chair, Dame G Keegan, advised that a meeting took place on 10 May 2020. The following items were discussed:

TAKING BOYS SERIOUSLY

CCMS officers sit on the Steering Group of a research project called ‘Taking Boys Seriously 2’, administered by Ulster University, which aims to influence and transform policies, practices and pedagogies to create improvement and understanding of systemic and personal barriers to enhance social and academic outcomes for boys. Blessed Trinity College and Boys Model, Belfast have been part of the research to hear, in particular, the voice of the boys from disadvantaged communities. A conference will be launched in the Autumn; CCMS will be encouraging Catholic maintained schools to attend and become involved in the research trial of the principles and practices.

EXPERT PANEL ON EDUCATIONAL UNDERACHIEVEMENT INTERIM REPORT

ECC reviewed the interim report noting that the final report has now been published. All members of Council received a copy. ECC will review this report and CCMS actions will be considered.

TRAUMA INFORMED PRACTICE

The Chair advised that three Senior Education Advisers have completed training in Trauma Informed Practice. Officers continue to work with the three schools to use as case studies.

SEN & NURSERY PROVISION – POLICY STATEMENTS

Members of the committee reviewed policy statements on the two CCMS published reports. Once completed, the committee will share with Council.

ETHOS PAPER

The CEO advised that this paper was developing and that he hoped to forward a final copy to members in time for the October meeting of Council. It was noted that this would be a pivotal document for CCMS.

REOPENING OF SCHOOLS [CCMS/P/4/175/21]

Following the Easter break, all schools had reopened with the full cohort of pupils back at school. All Principals had reported that both staff and pupils were extremely happy to be back face-to-face. A report was drawn up for members see the current position in schools and what challenges they are were still facing. The feedback from schools was that most children appeared to have been resilient to many of the more challenging aspects of lockdown and that they wanted to get back to learning and the other aspects of school life.

Members agreed that this was an excellent paper and reflected the excellent work of our schools. It was felt that the paper should be shared more widely to recognise that school leaders and noted that children have responded well to life during this pandemic.

175.9.5 DIOCESAN EDUCATION COMMITTEES

The Chair advised that all approved DEC minutes had been previously circulated for members’ information.

DEC ANNUAL REPORT [CCMS/P/5/175/21]

The CEO advised that this was the first time a DEC Annual Report had been produced, highlighting the work of the five DECs over the past 12 months. The CEO noted that working relationships between Council and DECs had been improved considerably with regular feedback between the two, with SLT now meeting regularly the DEC Chairs.

Members welcomed the report noting the significant volume of work that had been undertaken by the DECs despite the setback of Covid-19.

Action – All members

Action – Chair of Council

Action - CEO

Action - CEO

175.10

ONB

There was no other notified business.

175.11

DATE OF NEXT COUNCIL MEETING

The next meeting is scheduled to take place on 6 October 2021 @ 1.30pm.

Members were requested to note the Council and Committee meeting schedule dates for the next academic year.

Signed: _______________________________ Dated: ________________________

Bishop Donal McKeown, Chair Wednesday 6 October 2021

Action

Responsibility

Date Completed

TEMPORARY VARIATIONS – Following completion of transfer 2021 a report on TVs will be compiled for members.

DPSP

Ongoing

CCMS DRAFT BUSINESS PLAN 2021/22 – All members to complete training on Outcomes Based Accountability.

All Members

Ongoing

APSG SUSTAINABILITY BASELINE REPORT – DE Baseline report will be shared with members when completed.

DPSP

Ongoing

CURRICULUM AND QUALIFICATIONS SKILLS BOARD - Report will be shared with members when completed

DPSP

Ongoing

EXPERT PANEL ON EDUCATIONAL UNDERACHIEVEMENT IN NORTHERN IRELAND – Report to be shared with members following the meeting.

AR

Issued to all members – June 2021

CCMS DRAFT BUSINESS PLAN 2021/22 – Members to forward any comments to Clerk to Council.

All Members

Completed – June 2021

GOVERNANCE TRAINING – Members to put forward their interest in training to the Clerk to Council.

All Members

UPDATE FROM AREA PLANNING STEERING GROUP – Chair of Council to write to the Minister regarding ‘normalisation’ process.

Chair of Council

Completed – June 2021

ETHOS PAPER – CEO to share final paper with members at October Council meeting.

CEO

REOPENING OF SCHOOLS – CEO to share this paper more widely.

CEO

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