Summary of DE Board Meeting - 28 February 2019


Thursday 28 February 2019

New Building Conference Room, Rathgael House



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

In attendance:

  • Bryan Laverty (Board Secretary)
  • Ricky Irwin – Items 5, 6, 7, 8
  • Suzanne Kingon – Observer
  • Trish McBride - Observer



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:

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

The Board noted the 2018/19 forecast capital budget position; the updated position with regard to the various capital programmes; the indicative capital budget for 2019/20; and thanked Philip for his update.

SEIRT Presentation on the new SEN Framework – Jacqui Durkin & Sharon Lawlor

Sharon advised that there are three elements to the new SEN Framework:

  • the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Act (NI) 2016;
  • new SEN Regulations;
  • a new Code of Practice.

Sharon reported the key changes to the Act; outlined the current position on the Regulations; and outlined consultation that has taken place to date. For 2019/20 the key priorities are:

  • The need to ensure all delivery partners are taking forward the necessary actions ‘in contemplation of statutory effect’ to allow for a smooth and effective staged implementation of the new Framework from 2020.
  • Finalising the Regulations and identification of an appropriate vehicle through which the Regulations can be laid.
  • Effective ongoing engagement with key stakeholders.
  • Finalising and securing agreement to consult on the new SEN Code of Practice.
  • The timing of the Department’s Commencement Orders (to start various provisions/duties within the SEND Act).

The Board acknowledged that there are some capacity issues within the Team with regard to the forward work programme and thanked Jacqui and Sharon for the presentation and update.

Preparing the Governance Statement

Ricky Irwin spoke to his paper and provided an update on the preparatory work required to produce a Governance Statement as part of the Department’s annual report and accounts.

The DE Board agreed:

  • the format and proposed approach to developing the 2018-19 DE Governance Statement;
  • the director subsidiary statement template;
  • the arrangements below director level being handled by individual directors;
  • the timetable for the preparation of the Governance Statement.

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 and that the Departmental Operations Centre (DOC) has been established and tested successfully.

Draft 2019/20 DE Business Plan

Fiona Hepper spoke to her paper and presented a draft of the 2019/20 DE Business Plan to the Board for consideration and advice on the way forward.

The Board agreed that the draft plan will be taken back to BRG for further consideration.

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

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

Members agreed to the inclusion of the new risk regarding EU Exit.

Members agreed a number of minor amendments to Risks 2, 12 and 13 in the CRR and noted the Department’s current risk profile.

Action Points:

Fiona will discuss with Jacqui Durkin the residual rating for Risk 5, relating to Child Protection and Safeguarding and the actions identified to manage the risk.

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 9.2.

Director of Finance Report

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

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

Strule Progress Report

John Smith spoke to his paper and provided members with an update on work carried out on all Strule projects to January 2019.

Programme activities have focused on drafting the second addendum and all the supporting analysis. The addendum has been submitted to ASU for review and assuming it is approved within the next 2-3 months and the current Main Works competition is re-commenced, campus go-live would be September 2023.

The Board noted the update report.

Non Departmental Public Bodies – Verbal Update

Members noted that Gavin Boyd and John Collings will leave the EA at the end of March at which point Sara Long will take over as CEO. Temporary Promotion arrangements are being put in place to fill the Directors posts vacated by John Collings and Sara Long.

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