Education Authority publishes area plans for schools in Northern Ireland

The Education Authority has published area-based action plans for the schools system in Northern Ireland. The outline proposals, revealed today (Friday 28 April) follow consultation on the EA’s strategic plan, Providing Pathways. They identify education needs in individual local government areas and list schools where action is deemed necessary to improve the service. 

Education Authority publishes area plans for schools in Northern IrelandThe plans were drawn up by the Authority in conjunction with the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools and sectoral support bodies, including the NI Council for Integrated Education (NICIE).  Forty schools, spanning all sectors, have been identified as potentially unsustainable.

The introduction to the document states:
“The Area Plan confirms that in some areas we have too many school places for the number of children and young people available to fill them. In other areas it highlights that there is a sufficient number of places but they are not in the right place. [Former Education Minister Peter Weir] highlighted that the challenge that faces almost all Local Government Districts (LGDs) is that we have many schools that are too small to adequately provide for their pupils and ensure they have the opportunity to fulfil their potential.”

The plans acknowledge the statutory duty of the Department of Education towards the development of integrated education and highlight specific areas where this should be explored as a priority: East Belfast, for both primary and post-primary provision,  Lurgan and Craigavon and the area ranging from Newry to Kilkeel for primary provision.  There are also suggestions for establishing or increasing pre-school facilities at several integrated primary schools.

The managing authorities must consult with local communities over proposals  to change education provision in  any area, and this process should be concluded by March 2018. The action plans published today cover only the first year of the EA’s strategy and will be followed by two further action plans in 2018 and 2019.

You can read the plans in full, as well as the strategy document and the consultation report, here.