Summary of DE Board Meeting - 04 July 2019


Thursday 4 July 2019

New Building Conference Room, Rathgael House


  • Derek Baker (Chair)
  • Noelle Buick
  • Fiona Hepper
  • John Smith
  • Gary Fair
  • Ricky Irwin
  • Sarah Wilson (NICS HR)
  • Joan McEwan

In attendance:

  • Bryan Laverty (Board Secretary)
  • Janis Scallon – Item 5
  • Philip Irwin – Item 6
  • Michael Cooke, Annette Hutton (NICSHR) – Item 8
  • Deborah Frost – Observer
  • Kyle Crutchley - Observer


  • Lianne Patterson
  • Fiona Keenan

Update on the Education Transformation Programme – Individual Projects

Fiona Hepper spoke to her paper and, following on from her detailed update on the Programme at the Board meeting on 23 May 2019, provided members with an overview on each of the projects which comprise the Education Transformation Programme and an update on key issues emerging from the most recent Programme Board meeting.

Action Points:

The Board noted the paper and requested:

A one page map on the strategic role of each project.

Update from Top Management Group

Fiona Hepper explained that the Policy TMG has considered a number of significant policy areas and developments this year to date, including:

  • Independent Appeals arrangements for independent schools;
  • Mainstreaming Shared Education;
  • Statemented Children;
  • Suspensions/Expulsions policy;
  • Nurture provision.

Policy TMG has also developed a policy paper setting out the way forward in the ongoing absence of a Minister.

Fiona outlined Policy TMG’s agenda for its forthcoming meetings.

Action Points:

Policy TMG to share its formal work programme, together with a visual representation of how Policy TMG feeds into the Department’s strategic direction, with the Independent Board members.

Area planning Update

Janis Scallon spoke to her paper and presented the Board with an update on Area planning, Admissions and Shared Campuses activity.

The Board recognised the positive impact of improved communications arrangements around the outcome of Development Proposals and Transfer 2019. Janis advised that planning for Transfer 2020 is already underway.

Capital Budget Update

Philip Irwin spoke to his paper and provided members with an update on the current position of the capital budget, focusing on:

  • 2018/19 Capital Budget Outturn;
  • 2019/20 Capital Budget;
  • The Executive Funded Major Capital Works;
  • The School Enhancement Programme (SEP);
  • Minor Works;
  • The Youth Programme;
  • The Fresh Start Programme.

The Board noted the paper and update.

External Complaints Report 2018/19

The Board noted Ricky Irwin’s paper regarding the External Complaints Report 2018/19. The Board noted that the Education and Training Inspectorate has a separate complaint procedure.

HR Report

Michael Cooke and Annette Hutton (NICS HR) provided an update on the implementation of the revised Employee Relations arrangements. The Board noted the updated position.

Sarah Wilson presented the HR Report covering:

  • promotion and recruitment;
  • employee relations;
  • learning and development;
  • the NICS People Strategy.

The Board noted the paper.

Impact of the UK leaving the EU on Education in NI

Ricky Irwin spoke to his paper and updated the Board on preparations for a possible “no deal” EU Exit.

The Board noted the contents of the paper.

Draft DE People Plan 2019/20

Ricky Irwin spoke to his paper and provided the Board with background on the development of the draft DE People Plan for 2019/20.

The Board endorsed the DE people Plan 2019/20 and agreed to its publication and circulation to staff.

Director of Finance Report

Gary Fair spoke to his paper and provided members with an update on all key financial issues, covering:

  • 2019-20 Budget position;
  • Pension pressures;
  • Schools Surplus Drawdown;
  • Teachers Pay;
  • 2020/21 Budget Information Gathering Exercise;
  • The high risk EA IT Projects.

The Board noted the contents of the paper.

Report for the ARAC meetings on 29 May & 26 June 2019

Joan McEwan spoke to her paper and provided an update from the recent meetings of the ARAC, including the issues discussed with the EA CEO.

The Board noted the following:

  • The Report of the ARAC Self Evaluation Process 2018/19, and that the ARAC had concluded a satisfactory assessment of its own effectiveness; 
  • It is anticipated that the Comptroller & Auditor General will certify the DE Resource Accounts and TSS Statements for 2018/19 with an unqualified opinion, without modification.

The Board approved the ARAC Annual Report for 2018/19 and revised Terms of Reference.

First Quarter Report on 2019/20 Business Plan

Ricky Irwin spoke to his paper and provided the Board with the first quarter position against commitments/actions contained in the 2019/20 DE Business Plan.

The Board noted that the reasons for those commitments/actions which have a RAG status other than green are outwith the control of the Department.

The Board agreed amendments to commitment/actions 3.2.0 and 5.1.0. DE 2019/20 Corporate Risk Register (CRR) and Risk Management Ricky Irwin presented his paper which provided the Board with an update on risk management within the Department.

The Board:

  • noted the updates for action points arising from the April and May Board meetings;
  • approved the amendments to the CRR;
  • noted the Department’s current risk profile;
  • noted the orange status of a risk in the Promoting Collaboration, Tackling Disadvantage Directorate Risk Register and agreed that the risk should be escalated to the CRR;
  • noted the orange status of a risk in the DE Transformation Programme Risk Register.

Non departmental public bodies – verbal update

Derek advised the Board that the Department is currently fully engaged in addressing a number of issues regarding the GTCNI and that Internal Audit has been involved to ensure all due processes are followed.

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