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Alarm at Eagles response to Bain Review

12 December, 2006

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson, West Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff has said that there will be huge concern at the heavy handed and immediate response of British direct rule Education Minister to the Bain Review.

Mr McElduff said:

"This swift and heavy handed response from Maria Eagles demonstrates a true agenda which is about imposing one particular view of educational entitlements and choice. It is view driven by a cost cutting agenda driven by the British Exchequer.

"While everyone acknowledges that increased collaboration and partnership arrangements between schools and across sectors is the way forward. No one could sensibly argue that attempts to force through social engineering through integration will work. It is essential that parental choice is not undermined.

"We have argued for the development of educational communities involving all local education providers, including further education, primary and post primary sectors, working together with the local community to meet the needs of our children and young people. Much of this is recognised in the Bain Review.

"Unfortunately this is not recognised in Maria Eagles ill thought out response to the review. I am now seeking urgent clarification on this statement today and the likely impact on many schools, particularly in rural areas.

"I am also determined to ensure that the huge progress that has been made by the very successful and growing Irish Medium sector is not threatened by any ham fisted attempt to cut costs. Falling enrolment must not be used as an excuse to cut education budgets or undermine educational choice." ENDS

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