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Education Minister updates teachers on post-primary arrangements

6 February, 2008

Sinn Féin Education Minister Caitríona Ruane has updated a local teaching union on her plans for reform of post-primary education.

During a conference organised by the Association of School and College Lecturers NI the Minister took the opportunity to provide teachers with more details about her plans.

Welcoming the invitation to speak directly with the union's members, Ms Ruane said:

"Since my announcement on 4 December about the way forward on post-primary arrangements there has been much debate about how the new arrangements will operate in practice.

"There has been much interest, in particular, about transfer at age 14. Whilst there is consensus that age 14 is a key decision point, my plans have been interpreted as meaning wholesale structural change requiring huge capital investment.

"For those who believe this to be the case, let me say that I do not believe in a one size fits all approach to post-primary provision. I believe in the benefits of designing local solutions to address local circumstances and that is why I will shortly be bringing forward the detail on an area-based planning approach. This will enable local communities to decide on the structures that will be most appropriate for their areas.

"There has also been interest in how children will transfer at age 11. For those unclear about how this procedure will operate, I would like to emphasise that children will transfer on much the same basis as they currently do. Admissions will be determined on family, community and geographic criteria, without the need for academic attainment criteria."

The Minister also spoke about the benefits of collaborative working. Ms Ruane continued:

"Many of you will already see the benefits of collaborative working. There are a number of Learning Communities already operational throughout the North, often with active participation from the Further Education sector. I see tremendous potential in this approach to education. By breaking down educational barriers, you are opening educational opportunities for your pupils.

"You are leading this change at a local level and I know that, by working together, we can provide a first-class education for all our children, regardless of their background." ENDS

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