Annual Report to Equality Commission - 2008-09_122701.doc
WESTERN EDUCATION and LIBRARY BOARD
THE NORTHERN IRELAND ACT 1998
(THE EQUALITY DUTIES)
1 April 2008 – 31 March 2009
Executive Summary 3
1. Introduction 4
2. Strategic Implementation of the Section 75 Duties 5
3. Screening of New Policies 5
4. Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) 6
5. Training 7
6. Communication 8
7. Data Collection and Analysis 8
8. Information Provision and Access to Services 9
9. Complaints 11
10. Consultation and Engagement 11
11. The Good Relations Duty 12
12. Additional Information 13
Appendix 1 – Disability Duties 17
Appendix 2 – Progress report on the implementation of actions arising from the EQIA for
the ELfNI (Electronic Libraries) project, April 2004 21
Appendix 3 – Schools and Disability Pilot Survey 25
This Annual Report, which records the activities undertaken by the Board in furtherance of
its equality obligations, covers the period 1 April 2008 to 31 March 2009.
• A pilot exercise was undertaken to collect information from children and young people
with disabilities on their experiences of the school system; the findings of the pilot were
reviewed and an on-line survey was developed and is underway at the year end – see
section 12 (b).
• An inter-Board working group developed a proposal outlining the structure,
management and delivery arrangements for a new regional service for Traveller
Education. This proposal was approved by the five Boards and submitted to the
Department of Education for consideration – see section 11 (c).
• Advice and support was provided on equality issues to the Education and Skills
Authority Implementation Team (ESAIT) and the Northern Library Authority
Implementation Team (NILAIT) - see section 12 (a).
• Draft policies were prepared for consideration by ESAIT on terms and conditions for
new recruits, e.g. Equal Opportunities and Work Life Balance Policies and Procedures
– see sections 7 (a) and 12 (a).
• Two seminars were organised under the auspices of the Joint Consultative
Forum based on the themes of the Review of Public Administration and Inequalities in
Education – see section 10 (b).
• One EQIA was completed and another is at Stage 5 – see section 4 (b).
Main Activities Planned for 2009/10:
• Assisting ESAIT with the development of an Equality Scheme and Equality and
Disability Action Plan;
• Publish the findings of the children’s and young people’s disability survey;
• Publish the results of the EQIA ‘Implementation of the Job Evaluation Schemes’;
• Take forward proposals for a regional service for Traveller Education; and
• Conduct a final review of the Board’s Equality Scheme and Interim Disability Action
Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 requires public authorities to promote equality
of opportunity and good relations. The Western Education and Library Board is fully
committed to the fulfilment of the Section 75 obligations and the Board’s Equality Scheme
was approved by the Equality Commission on the 20 March 2001. This Annual Report,
which records the activities undertaken by the Board in furtherance of its equality
obligations, covers the period 1 April 2008 - 31 March 2009
This report will be published on the Board’s website at www.welbni.org.
(a) Review of Public Administration
On 22 November 2005, following a Review of Public Administration in Northern Ireland,
Government announced the establishment of a single Education and Skills Authority (ESA)
and a new Northern Ireland Library Authority (NILA). The new library authority, now known
as ‘Libraries NI’, came into operation on 1 April 2009 and ESA is planned to begin on 1
The implementation of the decisions arising from the Review of Public Administration is
having a major impact on the existing work of the five Education and Library Boards and
the Staff Commission with priority being assigned to assisting the Department of
Education, the ESA Implementation Team, NILA Implementation Team and other
stakeholders to help achieve the objectives of RPA.
Meetings are held regularly between the Minister for Education and the Chairs of RPA
affected groups to provide briefings on RPA developments and to examine jointly the
issues faced in maintaining service continuity during the transition period. The Western
Board’s Chairperson is a member of this Forum. The minutes of Forum meetings can be
viewed on the ESAIT website at www.esani.gov.uk.
Other interim structures include a Human Resources Forum consisting of representatives
from ESAIT, NILAIT, the Education and Library Boards, the Staff Commission and other
RPA affected organisations within the education sector. An Equality Duties Group was
established to consider the development of an equality strategy for ESA, including a draft
Equality Scheme and Equality and Disability Action Plan.
(b) New Disability Duties
In view of the exceptional circumstances arising as a result of RPA the Equality
Commission, in January 2007, granted the Western Education and Library Board (and also
the other 4 Boards) an exemption from the requirement to produce a disability action plan
although the Board is still subject to the general duty to have due regard to fulfil the above
duties. Under the terms of the exemption the Board agreed to implement a programme of
work and to submit progress reports to the Equality Commission. A progress report is
contained at Appendix 1 of this annual report.
2. STRATEGIC IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SECTION 75 DUTIES
The Chief Executive is responsible to the Board for ensuring that the Board fully complies
with its Equality Scheme. Each member of the Senior Management Team is responsible
to the Chief Executive for ensuring that each functional service complies fully with the
Equality Scheme. Operational responsibility for the implementation of the Scheme rests
with an officer at Education Officer level.
To encourage a corporate and integrated/partnership approach, involving the five Boards,
the Staff Commission, the Department of Education and the Department of Culture, Arts
and Leisure etc the following arrangements have operated during the year under review:
• Objectives and targets relating to the statutory duty are incorporated into the Board’s
Corporate and Business Plans;
• Equality objectives have been built into the performance targets of relevant staff and
thereafter are reflected in the annual review/appraisal process;
• Progress reports on the implementation of the Equality Scheme are provided to the
• Equality issues are considered at meetings of the Board’s Senior Management Team
and the Senior Officer Group;
• Implementation of the Equality Scheme is a standard item on the agenda for the
monthly meetings of the Boards’ Chief Administrative Officers;
• The close partnerships developed over the past six years with the community, voluntary
and trade union sectors continued, as evidenced by meetings of the Joint Consultative
During the year an ESAIT Equality Duties Group was formed to bring together
representatives from all the legacy organisations in education affected by the RPA. For a
report on the work of this group see section 12 (a).
A report on new policies screened during the period 2007/08 was issued to consultees in
October 2008. In addition, details of the new policies screened by the Western Board
during the year ended 31 March 2009 are summarised below:
Achieving Derry – Bright Futures This is intended as a long-term approach to
eradicating educational underachievement in the Derry City Council area and to break
the cycle of social deprivation and unfilled potential that blights this community. The
objectives of the policy are;
• To obtain the active involvement of all education providers, community, voluntary
and statutory agencies in the Derry City Council area to improve the life chances
and well being of children and young people and to break the link between social
deprivation and poor educational outcomes;
• To raise educational outcomes in the Derry City area to at least the Northern
Ireland average; and
• To encourage greater sharing of expertise and good practice within and across
schools and the wider community.
Decision No equality impact assessment is required.
4. EQUALITY IMPACT ASSESSMENT (EQIA)
(a) Department of Education led EQIAs
The Department of Education (DE) is developing a policy code for the education sector to
provide better clarity on how policies should be delivered and the outcomes they are
intended to achieve. The code will help to inform discussions between DE and the
Equality Commission to ensure that existing policies meet the requirements of equality of
opportunity and good relations. During the year DE consulted on the equality impact
assessment of policies on a “rolling basis”.
(b) Inter-Board/Staff Commission led EQIAs
Registration and Grant Aid Schemes for Local Voluntary Youth Groups
The results of this EQIA, which is at stage 6 of the process, were published in November
2008. Considerable progress has been made with a regional approach now in place for
the registration and administration of grant aid applications. However, a significant
challenge has arisen for Boards attempting to reconcile the existing funding resources
available to individual Boards with what are likely to be ESA requirements for the allocation
of grant aid. The Boards are not in a position to commit resources on behalf of ESA but are
mindful that when ESA is established (planned for 1 January 2010) a common approach to
such funding would need to be in place. ESAIT has agreed to consider the matter but
because of a number of more pressing issues, including the need to appoint Directors for
ESA, has deferred consideration until a later date.
Implementation of the Job Evaluation Schemes
This EQIA is at stage 5 of the process. A range of issues were raised in the course of the
initial consultation on this policy which caused the Boards to conclude that the EQIA
should be reviewed. A revised EQIA was issued for consultation in March 2009 with a
closing date for receipt of comments by 20 May 2009.
(c) Ongoing EQIA Monitoring Activities – April 2008 to March 2009
Progress Report on the Implementation of the EQIA ‘Electronic Libraries for
Northern Ireland (ELFNI)’
In 2002 the ELfNI programme established an Intelligent Customer Unit (ICU) to manage
the service on behalf of the 5 Education and Library Boards. A robust benefits realisation
plan is in place, including a section on equality, and this process is monitored by the ELFNI
contract executive. For further information see Appendix 2.
Responsibility for the public library service function transferred from the Education and
Library Boards to the new regional Libraries NI, with effect from 1 April 2009. Accordingly,
matters relating to the public library service will no longer feature in any future equality
progress reports published by the Education and Library Boards.
Work-life Balance Policies
The findings of this review have been fully implemented.
(d) Planned EQIAs
Provisional Criteria for Initiating Statutory Assessments of Special Educational
Need and for making a Statement of Special Educational Need
The aim of this policy is to make clear the way in which Boards will implement the
guidance in the Code of Practice on the Identification and Assessment of Special
Educational Needs (ref: Department of Education, 1998). The five Education and Library
Boards presently take into account the guidance from the DE code of practice when
making decisions about conducting statutory assessments and arranging special
educational provision. However, each Board has been responsible for developing its own
criteria for initiating a statutory assessment of a child’s special educational needs, and
whilst the criteria have in most cases been similar, the Boards acknowledge that some
differences do exist. This policy would introduce a consistent approach across all five
Boards and is intended to impact positively on the Boards’ obligations to have due regard
to the need to promote equality of opportunity. The consistent policy could have significant
affects for many children and young people and there may be differential impacts related to
gender, race, age and disability that require careful consideration. The Boards recommend
that the policy should be subject to a full equality impact assessment.
Since the Boards commenced work on this issue DE has embarked on a widespread
review of special educational needs and inclusion and it is expected that a consultation
report will be issued by DE by the summer 2009. It is anticipated that the outcome of the
review could have a major impact on the Boards existing practices, which may require
amendment in the light of any legislative changes proposed as an outcome of the review.
Given the links between the criteria and DE’s overarching special educational needs policy
it is the view of the Boards’ screening panel that an EQIA should be conducted on a
partnership basis, or co-joined approach, with DE.
Due to the major focus on the preparations for the establishment of the new Education and
Skills Authority on 1 January 2010 there were only limited training developments during
2008/09 linked to the implementation of each individual Board’s existing Equality Scheme.
A series of briefings was held for school principals and officers on the Disability Duties in
preparation for an on-line survey to collect information from children and young people with
disabilities on their experiences of the school system.
Equality Awareness - Section 75
The Board includes a section on the Equality Duty and a copy of its Equal Opportunities
Policy in a staff handbook used for inducting new staff. The Board holds induction sessions
to welcome new staff to the organisation and to introduce new employees to corporate
issues and to give an overview of Board policies.
Equality Awareness - Recruitment and Selection
Three inter-Board training sessions were held for new panel members (32 participants).
This training included guidance on the provisions of the Code, the Equal Opportunities
Policy and the legislative provisions related to the promotion of equality of opportunity,
equality awareness and good practice relating to recruitment and selection.
The methods used to communicate progress on the implementation of the Board’s Equality
Scheme during 2008/09 included:
• Reports to Board members;
• Progress reports submitted to the Joint Consultative Forum and to consultees included
on the Board’s list of consultees;
• Direct contacts via consultation events; and
• Information published on the Board’s website.
Representatives of the community, voluntary and trade union sectors have welcomed and
readily acknowledge that the approach adopted by the Boards/Staff Commission has
encouraged them to actively participate and to have influence in the implementation of the
Boards’ Equality Schemes.
7. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS
(a) Transfer of Employment Monitoring Data
Employment data for public library staff were transferred from the Education and Library
Boards to the new regional authority ‘Libraries NI’ at the end of March 2009. Libraries NI
will become responsible for future employment monitoring of staff in the public library
service after the Boards have completed their employment monitoring returns to the
Equality Commission in respect of staff employed at 1 January 2009.
Education and Skills Authority (ESA)
ESA, once established on 1 January 2010, will become the largest employer in Northern
Ireland with the transfer from 12 organisations of employment monitoring data for
approximately 30,000 staff. ESA will require careful planning to complete its future annual
monitoring returns and the Boards/Staff Commission, in consultation with the other legacy
organisations and the Equality Commission, have prepared a report on compliance with
Part VII of the Fair Employment and Treatment (NI) Order 1998. The Equality
Commission is taking steps to ensure that ESA is specified as at 1 January 2010 to
enable it to submit an annual monitoring return for its workforce on that date.
(b) Schools Data
The annual school pupil census, operated by the Department of Education, gathers data
on religion, gender, age, ethnicity and on pupils with special education needs, including the
type of disability or other need that such pupils may have. The Department's assessment
is that the data currently available on children with disabilities remains unreliable and DE is
working with schools to obtain more information on children with disabilities. Further
consideration is being given to how the quality of the data can be improved.
(c) Achievements of Traveller Pupils
DE initiated an additional data gathering exercise on the achievements of Traveller pupils.
A form requesting information on key stage results in 2007/08 was sent to schools that had
Traveller children enrolled as at October 2007. This information will be analysed along
with details of attendance, type of accommodation and special educational needs to form
baseline data that will be used by the DE Taskforce on Traveller Education. The Boards
are represented on the advisory taskforce which has been established to advise the
Minister on future proposals for the education of Traveller children in Northern Ireland.
(d) Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
GIS is a means of displaying service data on a geographical basis rather than presenting
statistical summaries. The Boards provide the Youth Council with statistical data related
to various characteristics of both voluntary registered and controlled youth groups within
their respective areas. This data may then be analysed geographically to identify gaps in
youth service provision so that necessary resources can be allocated more effectively and
also to assist in the development and planning of such services. The analysed data
provides statistical and mapped information on:-
• types of youth provision;
• profile of youth service membership; and
• the distribution of provision.
Youth Service data is integrated with demographic data and may be analysed by age
group and geographical area and this has proved extremely beneficial in addressing
issues including New TSN, Section 75 – EQIAs etc. A series of tailored reports are
produced for each of the Boards and the Department of Education.
In 2007 proposals were prepared based on a consultation exercise with main
stakeholders to determine the statistical requirements for a management information
system for the Youth Service. The proposals, which are still under consideration, would
involve collecting data using a web-based approach and harmonise management
information systems across the sector. The Youth Council NI is currently undertaking an
exercise to determine good practice in the collection, collation and dissemination of
8. INFORMATION PROVISION AND ACCESS TO SERVICES
(a) Access to Services
Ethnic Minorities - The Boards established an Ethnic Minority Achievement Service in
2007 which has now been developed to become a regional Inclusion and Diversity Service
(IDS) bringing together a range of support services for newcomer pupils1. The IDS has
facilitated the spread of good practice and strengthened the range of assistance available
to newcomer pupils who have English as an additional language. Diversity co-ordinators
have been recruited and allocated to cluster groups of schools to give support and advice
to teaching staff.
The IDS has developed a multi-lingual website to help newcomer pupils and their parents.
The website, which is available in English, Irish and 15 other languages will give pupils and
their parents relevant information about schooling and the curriculum in Northern Ireland,
including the translation of important documents; see www.education-support.org.uk
The IDS provides a range of services including school-based support for initial
parent/teacher meetings, follow-up advice on pastoral needs, basic language needs and
curriculum support. In addition, it provides regional support for new teachers and school
governors and helps to raise inter-cultural awareness. The key services provided by the
• Advice and support provided by diversity co-ordinators;
• interpreting and translation services;
• information available via a multi-lingual website;
• a toolkit for diversity in primary schools; and
• continuous professional development for teachers.
People with disabilities - As a result of the Boards and the Staff Commission’s outreach
work over a number of years with disability interest groups the number of people with
disabilities participating in the Joint Consultative Forum has increased substantially.
Requests for information in alternative formats e.g. Braille, sign translation, have been met
together with other specific needs. Signer/Interpreter services have been provided to
assist deaf parents of children in schools to facilitate parental involvement in transfer
arrangements, teacher/parent interviews and parental contact with staff from Educational
Psychology Service, SEN and Education Welfare.
(b) Information Provision
The Board has made the following arrangements to facilitate better access to its services:
• Information can be provided on computer disc;
• Information can be provided in Braille (A Braille printer and reader has been
installed at Library HQ, Omagh);
• Information can be provided on audio cassette. An inter-Board arrangement is
in place with Armagh Talking Newspapers for the provision of a reader service;
• A text-phone is in place to facilitate contact with members of the public;
• Upgrades to the Board’s website take into account the needs of people with a
• The Board’s Equality Scheme and annual progress reports to the Equality
Commission and other related policies and reports are posted on the Board’s
• A multi-lingual website is available through the inter-Board Inclusion and
Diversity Service, (see 8 (a) above).
(c) Disability Access
In 2008/09 the Board expended £890,000 to improve access to facilities for people with a
disability at 60 schools, 1 youth centre and 1 public library. This is the continuation of a
programme which commenced in 2001 and works to improve access and the use of
facilities over the past eight years have included installing external and internal ramps,
automatic doors, Braille signage, the provision of lifts, enlarged and improved toilet
facilities, the provision of car parking spaces for people with disabilities and the provision of
specialised outdoor play facilities in schools for children with disabilities.
There were no complaints on grounds of equality received during 2008/09.
10. CONSULTATION AND ENGAGEMENT
The Boards have an agreed strategy in place to help facilitate individuals and groups that
may be affected by existing or proposed policies to influence the decision making process.
Consultees have welcomed this approach which provides for:
• The circulation of consultation documents together with response pro formas to
facilitate written feedback;
• The publication of consultation documents on websites;
• The organisation, as appropriate, of meetings with staggered start times to
maximise attendance by the public;
• The organisation of regional meetings in partnership with key interest groups.
(a) New Disability Duties
In 2007, arising out of a consultation meeting organised in partnership with Disability
Action and Mencap to discuss the new Disability Duties, a proposal was made to the
Boards that the opinions of children and young people with disabilities should be sought
on their experiences of the education system. This proposal was then taken forward by a
small working group representative of the five Education and Library Boards, the Council
for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) and the Staff Commission who decided to
undertake a pilot exercise. In November 2008 members of the working group met with
the Children with Disabilities Strategic Alliance Network to report on progress and in
December 2008 a newsletter was issued to members of the Joint Consultative Forum
providing information on the pilot exercise and proposing a way forward for a full Disability
Survey across the primary and post primary school sectors. A full report on this Disability
Survey is contained at section 12 (b),
(b) Joint Consultative Forum (JCF)
The Joint Consultative Forum, established in 2004 by the Education and Library Boards
and the Staff Commission, in partnership with the NI Council for Ethnic Minorities, is an
important mechanism for ensuring the effective engagement of the community, voluntary
and trade union sectors in matters relating to education. Its strength lies in the diversity of
the group and the range of perspectives therefore that can be brought to bear on policy
issues. The primary item of business during 2008/09 continued to be the implications of
the Review of Public Administration and during the year the Forum organised two major
seminars, which were held on 13 May 2008 and 12 February 2009, with around 60
participants attending each event. The main themes discussed were the Review of Public
Administration, Inequalities in Education, Mainstreaming Equality in the Education and
Skills Authority and in Schools.
Reports on both seminars were compiled and circulated to Forum members, the
Department of Education, the Equality Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the
Children’s Commission, the Community Relations Council and the Public Service
Commission. The reports are available on the Staff Commission’s website at
(c) EQIA – Implementation of the Job Evaluation Schemes
An inter-Board consultation event on the EQIA was held in July 2008 with the NI Public
Service Alliance trade union. As a result of issues raised by NIPSA the Boards concluded
that the EQIA should be revised and it was re-issued for consultation in March 2009.
11. THE GOOD RELATIONS DUTY
The Western Board is committed to the promotion of good relations within the workforce, in
policy development and in the delivery of its services. The five Education and Library
Boards’ and the Staff Commission’s Good Relations Strategy is cited by the Equality
Commission as an example of good practice.
(a) Promoting a Good and Harmonious Working Environment
The Boards and the Staff Commission were represented at an event organised by the
Equality Commission to discuss guidance for employers on ‘Promoting a Good and
Harmonious Working Environment’. The Staff Commission contributed to the revised
guidance published by the Equality Commission in December 2008.
(b) Joint Declaration of Protection
During 2008 a Joint Declaration of Protection (JDP) was developed by the Teachers’
Negotiating Council (TNC). The JDP recognises the moral and statutory responsibilities
placed on employers and trade unions by the Equality Pay Act (NI) 1970 (as amended);
Sex Discrimination (NI) Order 1976 (as amended); Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (as
amended); Fair Employment and Treatment (NI) Order 1998 (as amended); Race
Relations (NI) Order 1997 (as amended); Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation)
Regulations (NI) 2003, Employment Equality (Age) Regulations (NI) 2006 and Section 75
of the Northern Ireland Act 1998. The JDP was formally agreed by the TNC on the 6 April
2009 and arrangements are being made for it to be issued to schools.
Work is underway to update the Boards’ Joint Declaration of Protection originally
developed under the auspices of the Joint Negotiating Council for non-teaching staff. The
revised declaration will take account of the Equality Commission’s revised guidance for
employers on the promotion of a good and harmonious working environment.
(c) Traveller Education
An inter-board working group has prepared proposals outlining the structure, management
and delivery arrangements for a new regional service for Traveller Education to be
introduced in 2009, and these proposals have been submitted to DE for approval. The
Boards are also represented on an advisory ‘Task Force on Traveller Education’
established to advise the Minister on proposals for the education of Traveller children in
Northern Ireland. The Task Force is expected to report by mid-2010.
A north/south conference on Best Practice in Traveller Education was held in March 2009
and aimed to raise awareness among school principals and teachers of a range of good
practice and encourage associated changes in schools. The key themes of the conference
were: engagement with Traveller parents and pupils; the inclusive school; participation in
education; and pathways to work.
(d) Newcomer Pupils
At the date of the annual school census in October 2008 a total of 704 newcomer pupils
attended Western Board schools, almost a four times increase since 2005; of this number
17 attended nursery schools, 513 attended primary schools and 174 attended post-
primary schools. Support services to newcomer pupils and their parents are provided
through the inter-Board Inclusion and Diversity Service (IDS), (section 8 (a) also refers).
(d) Youth Intervention Programme – Summer 2008
The WELB Youth Service allocated £110,000 for the provision of summer intervention
programmes in 2008. A total of 44 projects were supported, mainly in the voluntary sector
and with priority given to young people in the 10-18 age range, to deliver community based
programmes. Evaluation has shown that the involvement of young people in programmes
of positive activity helps to lessen tensions at interface hotspots and can reduce the
resources otherwise required from police and emergency services in these areas.
12. ADDITIONAL COMMENTS
(a) Review of Public Administration - Implementation Process
Key staff from the Education and Library Boards and the Staff Commission have been
involved in a range of projects to prepare the way for the implementation of RPA proposals
for the creation of a new Libraries NI on 1 April 2009 and a new Education and Skills
Authority on 1 January 2010.
• ESA Implementation Team Human Resources Forum
The Forum, which comprises representatives from all the affected organisations in the
education sector, meets on a regular basis and undertook an extensive programme of
work during 2008/09. This included the development of a Recruitment, Redeployment and
Voluntary Severance strategy, harmonisation/protection arrangements for terms and
conditions of staff, a review of vacancy control arrangements and developing a ‘Draft
Scheme for Recruitment and Selection of Teaching and Support Staff in Schools’ for use
by the ESA.
• Employment Equality
A proposed Human Resources Strategy was developed for consideration by ESA and
Libraries NI. This work involved drafting employment equality policies and procedures that
include an Equal Opportunities Policy, Work Life Balance Policies, Job Share and Career
Break Schemes, Flexible Working Hours Scheme and Employment Monitoring. It is
intended that the information will greatly assist with the development of new terms and
conditions for new staff to be employed by the two new organisations as well as
addressing harmonisation and protection of employment issues for existing staff.
The re-drafting of a paper to ‘examine the requirement of Part VII of the Fair Employment
and Treatment (NI) Order 1998, as amended with regard to employment monitoring and
Article 55 reviews and the issues to be considered in the establishment of both ESA and
Libraries NI to enable them to fulfil these legal obligations’.
• ESAIT Section 75 Equality Duties Group
This Group has provided advice and guidance on the equality screening process,
proposed a method to ensure that equality considerations are built into the process of
developing service delivery plans, and the implications of the Equality Commission’s
Effectiveness Review for the drafting of an Equality Scheme for ESA. At the year end work
had commenced on the development of an Equality Scheme and Equality and Disability
Action Plan for use by the ESA.
• Location Strategy
A location audit was conducted of the Boards’ estate to identify non-school
accommodation that will transfer to ESA to help inform the development of a long-term
location strategy for ESA, taking account of regional and local functions as proposed in
the future service delivery models. The strategy will take account of the Public Service
Commission’s Guiding Principles on location, the Bain recommendations on public sector
jobs (still subject to agreement by the Executive) and the DFP location framework, which
requires an equality impact assessment to be conducted on such a strategy. Information
is currently being compiled for ESAIT on employment equality and other monitoring data
to also inform the location strategy.
• Libraries NI
Transitional arrangements were put in place in the lead-up to the establishment of the
Libraries NI). These included the establishment of a Joint Forum to address the major
changes associated with the outworking of the RPA e.g. the development of a Staff
Transfer Scheme, Recruitment, Redeployment and Voluntary Severance arrangements
(b) Experiences of Children and Young People with Disabilities of the Education
In June 2007, arising from a consultation meeting with Disability Action and Mencap, it was
proposed that the opinions of children and young people with disabilities should be sought
on their experiences of the education system. This proposal was taken forward by a small
working group representative of the five Education and Library Boards, the Council for
Catholic Maintained Schools and the Staff Commission who decided to undertake an initial
pilot survey exercise. The aims and objectives of the survey were:
• to collect information from children and young people with disabilities on their
experiences of the schools’ system;
• to identify good practice from children’s experiences within the school system;
• to identify particular difficulties and challenges faced by children and young
people with disabilities;
• to utilise the information to inform future policy development.
A structured questionnaire approach was adopted to issue to selected schools to collect
information from pupils attending primary school and at post-primary school (key stage 3
and key stage 4). An information pack was prepared to include a briefing paper explaining
the rationale for the survey, letters seeking parental consent, copies of the questionnaires
and advice for the Special Education Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) or nominated person
within the school. Copies of the questionnaires and information pack are obtainable on
request from the Staff Commission.
Pilot Exercise – a small number of primary and post primary schools in the controlled
and maintained sectors and a special school across three Board areas were invited to
participate in the pilot exercise. The steps involved included obtaining parental consent
for children to participate in the exercise, the issue of the questionnaire to children, the
offer of assistance to help children complete the questionnaire, completion by the school
of the final section of the questionnaire and the return of completed questionnaires to the
designated Board or CCMS officer.
The pilot exercise was conducted during June 2008 and 81 responses were received
representing a return rate of approximately 80%. The information gathered proved to be
very helpful and informative and confirmed the importance of proceeding with a much
larger survey. Much useful feedback was received that included suggestions for
improving the questionnaires and that any future survey should be conducted via the
internet ‘on-line’. An analysis of the responses received is included at Appendix 3.
Full Survey – The approach to conducting a full survey was informed by the responses
received to the pilot exercise. C2k agreed to develop and host on-line surveys on behalf
of the 5 Boards and the CCMS (C2k delivers a managed ICT service to all schools in
Northern Ireland). Discussions were held with representatives from disability groups to
consider the particular needs of pupils attending special schools. DE provided a
representative sample of schools targeting approximately 1,000 pupils broken down by:
Education and Library Board area, School type – primary or post primary, School sector -
controlled and maintained schools, and to include both urban and rural schools.
The success of the pilot survey was attributed to the early engagement with schools and
this approach was maintained with advice, guidance and support being provided to 142
primary schools and 32 post-primary schools who agreed to participate in the survey. The
survey for the primary school sector commenced in December 2008 and closed on 31
March 2009. The survey for the post-primary sector commenced in February 2009 and
closed on 15 May 2009. Over 900 completed questionnaires were received and it is
hoped that a report of the findings of the full survey will be published by the end of the
2009 calendar year.
The Joint Consultative Forum has commended the work in this area and asked if the
project could be extended to cover all groups of children/young people in the education
(b) Anti-Bullying – School Sector
An inter-Board anti-bullying group was established in 2006 and continues to work towards
taking a regional approach to all aspects of anti-bullying at both prevention and
intervention levels. This group meets formally each school term and members of the
group are also members of the NI Anti-Bullying Forum (NIABF). The key areas of focus
for the inter-Board group in 2008 have seen regional approaches to (a) supporting
schools with anti-bullying policy review and development, (b) promoting strategies for
managing bullying incidents and (c) providing resource materials for schools. The Boards
have also promoted and supported the NIABF’s anti-bullying week, normally held in
November each year, and also supported the implementation of a range of activities
developed by NIABF for all school sectors – see www.niabf.org.uk
(d) Anti-Bullying Week in Pilot’s Row Centre
The Youth Service, Derry Children’s Commission and members of the Youthfirst project
teamed up to deliver two days of workshops in Pilot’s Row Youth and Community Centre,
Londonderry. The workshops included the themes of personal and social development,
self-esteem and ‘Beat the Bully’ board. Art workshops also focussed on the theme of
diversity and interdependence and young people worked together to produce a piece of
art which was then placed on public display in the Centre.
Summary Progress Report
Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, as amended, public authorities, when carrying
out their functions must have due regard to the need to:
promote positive attitudes towards disabled people; and
encourage the participation of disabled people in public life.
These legal duties also require public authorities to prepare a disability action plan showing
how they propose to fulfil the disability duties in relation to their functions. In January 2007
the five Boards and the Staff Commission were exempted by the Equality Commission from
this particular requirement in view of the proposed major changes to educational
administration arising from the Review of Public Administration. However, the Boards/Staff
Commission developed an interim action plan to implement a programme of work in the lead
up to the establishment of the NI Library Authority on 1 April 2009 and the Education and
Skills Authority on 1 January 2010. This interim plan complements work already underway in
relation to the implementation of existing Equality Schemes and includes measures agreed
with the Equality Commission when the exemption was granted in 2007.
A summary progress report outlining the steps taken to implement this programme of work is
set out below.
A consultation event on the interim action plan, organised in partnership with Disability Action
and Mencap, was held in June 2007. There was widespread support for the approach
adopted by the Boards/Staff Commission and for the content of the plan. Since then regular
updates on progress have been made available to consultees and the Joint Consultative
Forum has commended the Education and Library Boards, CCMS and the Staff Commission
for their work in relation to a survey of the opinions of children with disabilities on their
experiences of the school system. For a full report on the details of this survey please refer to
section 12 (b) and to appendix 3 of this annual report.
Action Measure 1
Review measures already taken and/or proposed to promote equality of opportunity
for people with disabilities.
Progress - Review conducted; report available at www.staffcom.org.uk. Main conclusions:
• Screening pro forma should be amended to include specific questions on disability
equality. Update - pro forma amended and re-issued in May 2007.
• Information should be sought from young people with disabilities on their experiences
of the education system. Update - a pilot exercise was completed in June 2008 and a
full survey was underway at March 2009. It is hoped that the findings of the full survey
will be published by the end of the 2009 calendar year.
• Consider how consultations with young people could be enhanced. Update - to be
undertaken as part of the development of an equality strategy for ESA.
• Examine the scope for the involvement of people with disabilities in delivering
disability awareness training for front line staff. Update - some such training provided.
• Consult service users on public access provisions. Update - to be undertaken as part
of the development of an equality strategy for ESA.
Action Measures 2 and 3
Identify the current public life positions, if any, under the remit of the Education and
Library Boards and the Staff Commission. If such positions exist (a) examine how
appointments are made to such public life positions and (b) explore how disabled
people could be encouraged to apply for such positions.
Public Life Positions - The Boards/Staff Commission are non-departmental public bodies
and have only a very limited involvement in public life appointments.
(a) The members of an Education and Library Board
The constitution of each Board is determined by article 3(4) of the Education and Libraries
(Northern Ireland) Order 1986 which provides that the ‘Board shall be constituted in
accordance with the provision set out in Part 1 of Schedule 2 ...”. Schedule 2 provides for 1)
the Department of Education to determine the number of Board members, and 2) the
constitution of the Board. The Board members are constituted from a number of prescribed
(i) Persons nominated by the District Councils in the Board’s area;
(ii) Persons to represent the interests of transferors;
(iii) Persons to represent the interests of trustees of maintained schools; and
(iv) Persons suitable for appointment by reason of their interests in the services for which
the Board is responsible (this category includes teachers serving in grant aided schools
and persons appearing to have an interest in the Public Library Service).
The members of the Board are appointed by the Minister responsible for the Department of
Education and the Board itself has no control over appointments.
(b) The members of a school’s Board of Governors
The membership of Boards of Governors is determined by the category of the school i.e.
nursery, primary, post-primary or special school and by school type i.e. a controlled,
maintained or voluntary school.
The composition of membership of the Board of Governors of controlled schools is set out in
Article 10(3) of the 1986 Order. For example the Board of Governors of a controlled primary
school will consist of 9, 16 or 24 voting members depending upon the size of the school.
Normally where there are 9 voting members, of those members:
a. Four shall be nominated by the transferors and superseded managers of the school;
b. Two shall be elected by parents from amongst the parents of pupils attending the
c. Two shall be appointed by the Area Education and Library Board responsible for the
management of the school;
d. One shall be elected by teachers at the school from amongst teachers employed at the
Where there are 16 or 24 voting members, members are appointed from the same
categories but their numbers are varied as prescribed in Schedule 4.
In summary, Education and Library Boards do not have powers to appoint their own
members and have very limited discretion in respect of appointing persons to schools’
Boards of Governors. The Boards/Staff Commission have concluded that it is unnecessary to
develop a good practice guide for consideration by ESA as such guidance already exists
under the auspices of the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments.
(c) Other Advisory Panels
Joint Consultative Forum (JCF)
The Boards/Staff Commission established the JCF in 2004 in partnership with the NI Council
for Ethnic Minorities. The purpose of the Forum is to provide a formal working link between
the various public authorities in the education sector and the community, voluntary and trade
union sectors. Membership of the Forum is open to all individuals/groups/organisations
listed on the Boards’/Staff Commission’s Equality Schemes.
Action point - When conducting targeted consultation events, in partnership with disability
groups, inform consultees about the role and function of the Forum. It is anticipated that this
will encourage them and their respective members to participate more fully in its work.
Outcome – This approach has resulted in a significant increase in the number of people with
disabilities/specific needs participating in the Joint Consultative Forum.
Youth Service Liaison Forum
This is a liaison forum with no executive powers. Its role is to share information across the
youth service and debate issues and help inform DE policy. It is chaired by DE with the
secretariat being provided by the Youth Council for Northern Ireland. Its membership
comprises the DE, Youth Council, five Education and Library Boards and persons drawn
from the voluntary youth sector.
Action Measure 4
Conduct an examination of training and guidance on the promotion of equality for
people with disabilities.
Progress - Addressed under measure 1 above.
Action Measure 5
Organise a joint seminar with Section 75 Groups to (a) explore how public life
positions could be made more accessible to and inclusive of people with disabilities,
(b) examine how to better promote positive attitudes towards disabled people; and (c)
identify measures which could be considered for inclusion in the disability action plan
Consultations on how best to implement the disability duties included:
• Holding a partnership event between the Boards/Staff Commission, Disability Action
and Mencap in June 2007 (notes are available at www.staffcom.org.uk)
• Receiving written submissions from Mencap, Carers Northern Ireland, Employers’
Forum on Disability, Disability Action and the Lisburn Access Group
• Discussion at Joint Consultative Forum, October 2007 (notes available at
Summary of Feedback from Consultees
• The need to raise awareness of disability issues through corporate activities and
• Any training strategy should target both teaching and non-teaching (front-line) staff -
materials should be designed and delivered with involvement by people with
• To consider holding an ‘involvement’ day where people with disabilities and their
carers can contribute to policy making and raise awareness of the issues affecting
• Conduct research to identify the distinct experiences and needs of people with a
learning disability and the extent of their participation in the education sector;
• If surveying staff on disability issues, target all staff to obtain attitudes to disability as
well as obtaining feedback on experiences of employment from staff with disabilities;
• Collect information on the experiences of children and young people of the education
• Review existing research on children with disabilities being bullied at school, consider
what further action is required including whether further research is necessary;
• Examine the attitudes of teachers to pupils with disabilities; consider the extent to
which diversity/inclusion is addressed as part of teachers’ initial and in-service
• Examine routes into employment, criteria and experience required for each post;
• Consider the difficulties raised for people with disabilities and/or carers when
recruitment is to a ‘pool’ of staff who may be allocated to posts across Northern
Equality of Access
• People with learning difficulties do not currently enjoy equal access to, or benefit from,
public services - identify the barriers and how they can be overcome;
• Ensure the availability of information in a meaningful and fully accessible manner;
• Consider the need for easy to understand signage in buildings and the importance,
when designing new buildings, to provide easy access.
• Seek to effectively engage with people with disabilities of all ages and types of
• The need to develop an outreach strategy to reach some people with disabilities who
may use separate disability specific facilities;
• The need to involve carers in consultations, particularly on the implementation of the
• The importance of taking a co-ordinated approach to consultation.
The Boards/Staff Commission, in their final report on the new Disability Duties, will
summarise the progress that has been made, identify conclusions reached and provide a
report on the pilot exercise aimed at collecting information from children and young people
on their experience of the school system – see Appendix 3.
Progress Report on the Implementation of Actions to be taken
as a result of the ELFNI Equality Impact Assessment
ACTION PROGRESS TO DATE
1 Websites will be identified Examples of work during the reporting period are:
and signposted which • Online Library (see Action 12 below) offers access to 15
provide reliable, accurate online reference resources. Most are available, free of
information relevant to the charge, to library users from home as well as in the
needs of consultees and library.
other library users • Training in Online Library is provided for library staff,
school library staff, school teachers and members of the
• Eisodos database (see Action 7)
• The 5-Board Information Publishing and Website Group
• Quality assurance validation system for websites
continues to operate on a 5-Board basis
2 Libraries will provide ICT Examples of work during the reporting period are:
taster sessions • ICT taster sessions are now part of core activities.
Sessions are called Start Sessions (In NEELB) and over
1100 sessions were delivered in 08/09 in NEELB
• NEELB staff held 4 week long Scaredy Cats and Email
for Beginners courses in Greenisland, Crumlin,
Rathcoole, Glengormley, Antrim, Portstewart, Ballyclare,
Ballymena and Portglenone libraries.
• WELB offer four week courses in Beginners’ computers
and Internet and 3 weeks on email. They have one off
themed sessions available (e.g. travel, credit crunch,
family history themes etc)
• Northern Bank’s website, Moneyville
(www.moneyville.co.uk) was showcased in November
2008 in Coleraine Library. Aimed at children aged 5-7
• ICT sessions were organised in the SEELB area
covering: Internet for beginners, Family history on the
web, Money on the web, EBay for beginners, Creative
cards using IT, Digital photography, Social Networking,
Downloading music and Blogging
• 8 Apple Macs were introduced to Bangor Carnegie
library and a programme of taster sessions was
ACTION PROGRESS TO DATE
developed covering Imac and Garageband software.
Workshops on exploiting our online library reference
resource “Online Library” was held in Bangor Carnegie.
3 Disability awareness training LISC(NI) training courses (May & Oct ‘08) attended by
will take place approx 50 frontline staff from all Boards
The Learning Officer in WELB spoke at two seminars on
Sharing the Vision - How Libraries can reach out to
people with disabilities and made staff aware of
Accessibility Wizard and some other helpful ways of
4 Equality awareness training All Boards deliver equality awareness training.
will be delivered to all staff
5 Boards will deliver training to Each of the Boards is taking training in the use of adaptive
staff in the use of the
adaptive technology which technology forward.
has been installed
6 Research and consultation to Examples of work during the reporting period are:
assess the specific needs of • Purchase of foreign language stock for adults and
local minority ethnic groups children
in each Board area will take • Portrush – one member of staff attended
place conversational Polish class for 12 weeks.
• Ballymoney Library & PSNI – welcome evening every
Thursday with tea/coffee;
• Ballymoney Library & Causeway Institute FHE –
English classes every Thursday evening
• Representatives of ethnic minorities are invited to
participate in delivering diversity awareness training
• Library stand at Welcome Fair for ethnic minority
families in Coleraine Town Hall
• Monthly “Drop in” in Coleraine Library
• Strathfoyle had a cultural diversity morning – Polish
and Chinese. They also welcome and support the
local Polish community with regular events including
English classes in conjunction with NW Community
ACTION PROGRESS TO DATE
Development and this is used as an opportunity to
identify changing needs of the community;
• SEELB contribute to Cultural Diversity Group in North
Down and Ards region. Wide range of fiction stock
purchased covering minority languages. Currently
producing booklists for Latvian and Polish clients
7 Groups and individuals EISOSOS is a new resource which was added to Online
including minority ethnic Library early in 2009. The resource is aimed at migrant
groups will be asked to communities, giving information and advice about living in
contribute to the identification the UK and offers the data in a variety of languages.
and validation of websites Members of IPaW sought the advice of various minority
ethnic groups and related organisations.
8 Taster sessions and specific Examples of work during the reporting period are:
marketing will encourage • Help the Aged courses held in a number of libraries in
older people to use ELFNI NEELB (Glengormley, Magherafelt, Carrickfergus,
Larne, Coleraine) and in WELB.
• Workers Educational Association (WEA) held digital
photography class in Glengormley Library.
• ICT sessions were held in 10 libraries in NEELB and 5
libraries in WELB as part of Silver Surfers’ Day May 08,
in partnership with Business in the Community.
• There are ongoing one to one sessions for older clients
and many are involved in the four week courses.
• Senior Citizens clubs run by Larne and Rathcoole
libraries have incorporated IT taster sessions.
• SEELB libraries participated in Silver Surfers Day 2008
with IT sessions in Colin Glen, Lisburn City, Dundonald,
Holywood, Donaghadee, and Newcastle. Partnership
with Help the Aged continued in 2008 in the following
libraries: Lisburn City, Ballynahinch, Downpatrick and
Killyleagh. Information age provided sessions in
Portaferry library. Everybody online held classes for the
over 50’s in Lisburn City, Cregagh, Newcastle, Colin
Glen and Bangor Carnegie. While the University of the
3rd age provided classes in Downpatrick and Colin Glen
• SEELB staff continue to hold group sessions for the over
ACTION PROGRESS TO DATE
50’s in many libraries.
9 The service provider will A full technology refresh of all “people’s network” computers
carry out annual technology was carried out in 2008. In the previous reporting period a
reviews which will include number of measures were taken following a review of
adaptive technology assistive technology e.g. the implementation of 142 large
screen TFT monitors. No further reviews of assistive
technology took place during this reporting period.
10 Discussion will take place All “people’s network” computers were refreshed during the
with the Service Provider as reporting period and this included the introduction of flat
to whether it is possible to screen monitors on all public access terminals. The
adjust the software settings accessibility features delivered are via the Microsoft
on PCs across a large software provided.
11 Further research will be A Holywell Hospital survey on library standards and
carried out into the needs of customer care was carried out in May 08.
12 Access at home via ELFNI to Online Library delivers information via newspaper archives,
fee-charging electronic encyclopaedias, dictionaries including language
information services to which dictionaries, Ability magazine (information on technology for
libraries subscribe will be disabled people), Ancestry Library Edition, ‘Stories From the
investigated. Web’ for under 16s.
These are free for the public.
WELB included awareness sessions for these resources as
part of Silver Surfers Day events.
SCHOOLS AND DISABILITY SURVEY – PILOT DATA OVERVIEW
The pilot survey was conducted during June 2008 in a number of Primary, Secondary and Special
Schools within the Southern, North Eastern and Belfast Education and Library Board areas. 81
questionnaires were returned, with the breakdown as follows:
Table 1: Questionnaires returned – by Key Stage
KS1 and KS2 46
Table 2: Schools participating – by type and sector
School Type School Management No of Pupils
Primary Catholic Maintained 5
Primary Catholic Maintained 3
Secondary Catholic Maintained 9
Primary Catholic Maintained 11
Special Controlled 10
Secondary Catholic Maintained 8
Primary Controlled 13
Secondary Controlled 4
Primary Catholic Maintained 5
Primary Controlled 6
Secondary Controlled 7
The data were recorded on Excel and some preliminary frequency analysis carried out on the
Primary school data as this was the largest group. The KS3 and KS4 groups were not large enough
to provide any meaningful results.
In general the pupils did not have any problems with these and the responses provide a fair range of
data that could be used for cross comparisons with other data.
How pupils feel about school
The vast majority indicate that they are Very Happy or Quite Happy. These preliminary data show
that proportionately fewer KS3 and KS4 pupils indicate this. While this may not be reliable due to the
small numbers involved, it might be something to look out for in the main survey.
Break time at school
The majority of pupils indicate that they do join their classmates at break time. This question should
be suitable for identifying sufficient numbers for cross comparison with data on bullying and out of
school activities to see if any significant numbers of children are socially isolated.
Pupils who did not join their classmates did indicate reasons why.
After school clubs
The pilot data indicate a fairly high participation rate among Primary school children in after school
clubs and a good range of activities. Those who participated did give further information but these
data may prove difficult to analyse in a full survey as the schools have different names for these
Data from KS3 and KS4 pupils indicated a much lower level of participation in after school clubs and
activities but, again, this may not be reliable.
Participation in Sport / PE
All Primary school pupils indicated that they took part in PE and a frequency analysis is included in
Figure 3: Sport / PE at Primary School – numbers participating
KS3 and KS4 data indicate a lower level of participation but, again, this may not be reliable. Those
who did not participate did not clearly define the reasons and Question 14 may need to be refined for
Very few indicated sports / activities that they would like but don’t get a chance to take part in.
All but one of the Primary school children indicated that they got homework. Three KS3 pupils
recorded that they got no homework – all from a special unit. Some KS3 and KS4 pupils seemed to
be confused over Q17 and 18 and these may need to be refined.
There is evidence from feedback from schools that some KS3 and KS4 pupils did not understand this
question, particularly in special school. Responses from the pupils who did respond were variable.
This may need to be reworded or left out altogether.
29 of Primary school children indicated that they had experienced at least one form of this behaviour.
Responses on the “why” question indicate varying levels of understanding ranging from “Don’t know”
to a very pragmatic “Maybe they are jealous or did it by accident”.
9 PS pupils indicated that they had experienced more than two forms of bullying behaviour, and one
recorded five types.
Responses from KS3 and KS4 pupils indicated variable levels of understanding.
The pupils have attempted to respond to these questions but the range of responses is very variable
and difficult to record. They will not be easy to analyse in a full survey. This question needs to be
explored in more depth. The planning team might consider using the responses gained through the
pilot as a checklist for choices.
The majority of Primary schools pupils (approx 74%) reported that they found the questionnaire easy
to complete. All but three had some help to complete it, usually the class teacher or the classroom
Although numbers are small, proportionately fewer KS3 pupils recorded that they found the
questionnaire easy to complete and fewer had assistance with completing it.
Analysis of the Primary school questionnaires revealed that the most frequently recorded category
was “Mild Learning Difficulties”, often linked with Speech and Language difficulties. Approximately
one third of the PS pupils were recorded in more than one category. The long list of categories
makes recording of responses and analysis of this section problematic.
There is still a need for some mechanism for identifying children with disabilities who are not covered
by the SEN process.