The consultation period on the future pattern of education delivery closes today.
Area Plans focusing on post-primary provision were published by the education and library boards in July for an extended period of consultation.
Welcoming this milestone in the process, Education Minister, John O’Dowd said:
“The publication of area plans for post-primary provision marked the first step on the road to transforming our education provision here. I remain committed to raising standards and delivering a high quality education for all the pupils in our schools.” Continuing the Minister said: “Viability Audits were carried out by the boards and these showed that too many of our schools are experiencing stress in some form. This clearly indicates the need for change and the need to restructure our education system to ensure it is fit for the 21st century.”
With the consultation period ending, boards will now analyse the responses and present a report on the issues raised during the consultation along with their refined and enhanced plans to the Education Minister for consideration.
The Minister aims to conclude his deliberations in the coming months.Emphasising that this is not the end of the process, the Minister said:
“I want to assure schools, parents and communities as a whole that this is not the end of the process but rather the beginning. The area plans will be reviewed regularly to ensure that they remain fit for purpose and reflect local circumstances”
In order to make a change to the schools estate, a development proposal must be published. Development proposals are subject to the statutory consultation process giving further opportunity for communities to have their say on the future of their education system.
In conclusion, the Minister said: “I have difficult decisions to make that will not always prove popular but if we are serious about raising educational standards and opening up new opportunities for our children, then I am prepared to make those decisions. When taking these decisions my central consideration will be to benefit the children of today and the generations to come. I would like to thank all those who took time to respond to this important consultation and I look forward to hearing your views.”