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Education reforms delayed

20-07-2007

Education reforms delayed

20/07/2007 UTV News


A central body for education will be established by April 2009 at the latest, according to Education Minister Caitriona Ruane.

The minister said authorities governing Catholic schools and the integrated sector would be phased out by then and an Education Advisory Forum set up later as part of the shake-up of public services.

She was speaking after obtaining the agreement of ministerial colleagues to the first batch of changes during an Executive meeting in Stormont.
"It is essential that change starts now so that there`s a smooth coming together of the organisations and standards are maintained," she said.

Further work is scheduled on area-based planning, ensuring children in every area are fairly provided for, the structure of boards of governors and establishing the Education and Skills Authority (ESA) as the single employer.

The Catholic Council for Maintained Schools and the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education will be scrapped.

The forum will be representative of all interested parties.

These changes are part of the Review of Public Administration (RPA) designed to achieve greater efficiency in government.

Ms Ruane added: "Staff employed in education are a key consideration for me and I will ensure that they are kept fully informed.

"They will be central to successful implementation of the RPA proposals which, I believe, will deliver genuine improvements for staff as well as all our children and young people."

Stormont`s Education committee has held a string of meetings on the RPA changes.

It has heard concerns the ESA will include too many high-wage earners, cancelling out many savings from merging the five education and library boards.

However, the minister insisted: "There`s a streamlining happening but at the same time no one is naive enough to think that you don`t need strong administrative structures."

She added it would have control over a range of diverse schools and carry out many important functions with more than 50,000 workers and a £1.7 billion budget.

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