Summary of DE Board Meeting - 10 January 2019


Thursday 10 January 2019

New Building Conference Room, Rathgael House


  • Derek Baker (Chair)
  • Noelle Buick
  • Fiona Hepper
  • Tommy O’Reilly
  • John Smith
  • Gary Fair
  • Sarah Wilson (NICS HR)
  • Joan McEwan

In attendance:

  • Bryan Laverty (Board Secretary)
  • Michael Cooke and Annette Hutton (NICSHR) – Item 3
  • Ray Caldwell – Item 4
  • Ricky Irwin – Items 13
  • Elizabeth McGready – Observer


Fiona Keenan

Employee Relations (ER) Presentation from Michael Cooke & Annette Hutton (NICS HR)

 Michael Cooke explained that revised ER processes and arrangements have been developed and have been approved by the NICS Board. Engagement has taken place with key stakeholders on the proposed processes and discussions with TUS are ongoing.

The key changes to processes will see line managers assuming the role of decision maker, supported by guidance and advice from NICS HR ER. Importantly, the changes are not about the delegation of authority but rather to support and provide line managers with the.

The revised arrangements will be rolled out on a staged basis across the NICS in 2019 and 2020 with full introduction in DE by September 2020. NICS HR is keen to emphasise that key to the success of the project will be leadership from departments.

The DE Board noted that key to the success of the revised arrangements will be the quality and consistency of advice provided to staff.

ETI Report

Noelle Buick provided a presentation on the ETI Chief Inspector’s Report for 2016- 2018.

The DE Board noted the impact of the action short of strike (ASoS) by the teaching unions on the inspection process (61% of schools due for inspection in the reporting period did not receive a full inspection process rising to 74% over the 2 years of ASoS).

Director of Finance Report

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

  • 2018-19 Resource Budget;
  • 2018-19 Capital Budget;
  • 2019-21 Budget position;
  • The high risk EA IT Projects.

DE Fraud Prevention Policy and Response Plan & DE Raising Concerns at Work (Whistleblowing) Policy

Gary Fair spoke to his paper advising that revised DE Fraud Prevention Policy and Response Plan and DE Raising Concerns at Work (Whistleblowing) Policy had been endorsed by the ARAC on 13 December 2018.

The DE Board approved that the amended guidance can be published on the DE website.

Report from the ARAC Meeting 13 December 2018

The Board noted the report and that the EA CEO will be invited to the ARAC meeting in May 2019.

HR Report

Sarah Wilson presented the HR Report covering:

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

Members noted that the projected number of days lost through sickness per staff year for 2018/19 is 9.8.

Action Points:

Sarah to clarify the future position on corporate competitions.

DE 2018/19 Corporate Risk Register (CRR) & Risk Management

Fiona Hepper spoke to her paper and presented her update on risk management.

The Board agreed that a new risk will be included in the CRR with regard to Post Primary Transfer 2019

Business Planning in 2019/20

Fiona Hepper presented the Third Quarter Report on the 2018/19 Business Plan.

Members noted the report and the summary position of Commitments/Actions up to 31 December.

Policy Top Management Group Update

The Board noted the update from Tommy O’Reilly and the forward work programme for Policy TMG.

Board Effectiveness Evaluation 2018/19

Members agreed that independent input should be sought and agreed to the contents of the self-assessment questionnaire.

Impact of the UK leaving the EU on Education in NI

Ricky Irwin provided an update on preparations for EU Exit within the Department.

Programme for Government

Tommy O’Reilly advised that the mid-year report on the Outcomes Delivery Plan has been published.

Non Departmental Public Bodies – Verbal Update

Members noted that Sara Long has been appointed as CEO of the EA.


The Board noted that the second wave of the School Enhancement Programme 2 was announced on 21 January.

The Board passed on its best wishes to Tommy O’Reilly who has announced that he is leaving the NICS in mid-February.

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