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Minister taking decisive action to deliver modern & sustainable education system

26 September, 2011

North Antrim MLA, and Sinn Féin Education spokesperson, Daithí McKay has welcomed the Education Minister’s statement on the future of the education system in the north. Mr McKay said that the way forward outlined by John O’Dowd is about effective modernisation and meeting the needs of the child, not the institution.  Mr McKay said “The Minister has today outlined a vision for education that is based on the needs of the child, not the needs of the institution. That is what needs to be at the heart of a 21st Century education system, a system that primarily focuses on the personal development of children but also ensures that the economy is provided with a diverse educated workforce with an array of skills.  “The current education estate is unsustainable and the Minister has outlined that the taxpayer is paying for the equivalent of 150 empty schools (85,000 spare places). That is unacceptable and the money wasted on these places must be freed up to go to front-line education services. “The Minister has tasked the Education and Library Boards, working in conjunction with CCMS to co-ordinate a strategic exercise based on each board area to shape the future pattern of education delivery. The Catholic Sector’s Post Primary Review will dovetail into this work, the first phase of which is to be completed within six months of the Department’s formal commission. “The Minister is being far from rigid; indeed this statement is about accommodation and flexibility. Popular post-primary schools which are over-subscribed, for example, will be able to grow and accommodate extra pupils providing they can meet the educational needs of all pupils that they accept. “The financial pressures that now exist within the education system have been recognised and the requirement for schools to increase the choice of subjects at Key Stages 4 and 5 will therefore be brought in on a phased basis with a slightly lower minimum to start with.  “This process of change will not be without difficult and unpopular decisions but that is what is required to deliver a truly modern education service. New criteria is to be set out for capital investment which will ensure that such proposals are brought forward on the needs of education throughout an entire area rather than just the needs of the individual school.  “A clear course of action has been set out by the Education Minister, he has provided clarity on the way forward to a more sustainable and strategically planned schools estate, he has provided certainty on the Entitlement Framework. This next year will be a year of great change and it will provide certainty for all education stakeholders, especially the young people who it serves.”

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