General Teaching Council Northern Ireland

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Ruane puts Transitional Governance Arrangements in Place for Education


1st December 2009

Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane, has told the Assembly that work to establish the new Education and Skills Authority must and will continue.

During a statement to the Assembly, the Minister set out transitional governance and management arrangements for the period up to the establishment of the Education and Skills Authority.

The Minister later said: "The Executive committed itself to 1 January 2010 as the establishment date for the Education and Skills Authority. That date is no longer achievable and I am now moving to put in place arrangements to ensure that work to enable convergence of the affected organisations continues.

“Reform of the administration of education is essential to improve educational standards for all children and deliver front-line services more efficiently.

“There are also significant financial implications from the delay. We were expecting to achieve savings of £8million this year and £13million next year, which have already come out of our budget. The longer the establishment of ESA is put off the longer education will have to await the benefits and absorb the financial loss."

The Minister went on to outline the new arrangements which will be in place. She said: "To simply reconstitute the existing Boards is not an option. I have decided to use existing legislation to reduce the membership of the Boards by over half so we have smaller decision-making structures in place. We will be in contact with the relevant bodies which nominate to the Boards. In addition, we are in discussion with the Commissioner for Public Appointments and will take full account of relevant equality legislation.

"I am also looking at the appropriate membership arrangements for the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools, the Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment, the Staff Commission and the Youth Council.

"There must be a stronger push on the preparations for ESA and I have asked Sean Hogan, the Chairperson designate, to convene meetings of the chairpersons of the affected bodies. Gavin Boyd, the Chief Executive designate, will have a more direct role and the accounting officers in the Boards and the other affected bodies will report to the Department through him in his role as an accounting officer.

"The Chairperson and Chief Executive designate will produce a convergence delivery plan to maintain the momentum of reform while ensuring the existing organisations continue to deliver key policies including Every School a Good School, the Entitlement Framework and Area Based Planning.

"During the transitional period there is a need for increased financial oversight so that we can continue to ensure services are delivered and I have asked for a review of the financial delegations to the existing bodies.

"I will measure the effectiveness of the arrangements to be put in place and will supplement them with other changes as necessary.

"A further delay in the progress of the legislation towards the Executive objective of reform should not be allowed to occur and all those who care about the future of education should play their part in ensuring any delay is minimal.

"All staff across the education sector have been working hard to achieve this vital reform. I appreciate this work and am sure they will continue to do so during the period of transition, which I hope will be a very short period."

Under the transitional arrangements the total number of members of each Board will be as follows; Belfast Board 10, Southern Board 15, North Eastern Board 23 and Western Board 12.


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