27 Apr

SDLP will vote to reduce tuition fees cap

SDLP West Tyrone Candidate Daniel McCrossan has said that all SDLP MPs returned to Westminster will vote to reduce the tuition fees cap imposed by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government.

Mr McCrossan said: “As a 26 year old recent graduate, I have experienced how difficult it is for young people to access higher education. Whether it’s the cost of living independently for the first time or the struggle of finding a job to finance study for at least three years, there are significant financial barriers to a university education.

“Those barriers have been raised by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition after they blew the lid off the tuition fees cap in one of their first and most devastating attacks on working class families and students. We expected no different from the Tories but Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats betrayed themselves, their voters and the public by underhandedly rowing in behind Cameron in pursuit of power. (more…)

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16 Apr

Kee welcomes Magee extension, but adds that course availability is what matters

Ulster Unionist Party candidate for Foyle, Julia Kee has welcomed the green light given to the building of a new teaching block at the Magee Campus, Ulster University, Londonderry.

Julia said; “News that the Minister for Employment and Learning has found the money to build the new extension at Magee is of course a very positive step forward. However local people may be left scratching their heads at the twists and turns of this story.

“Last July planning permission was granted for the extension to the Magee campus which has been estimated as costing £11M. However since then there has been one budget crisis after another and the plan to expand Magee has been left up in the air. It was said that expansion was off the table, and then we were told in February that Ulster University is to axe more than 50 courses because of the budget cuts. (more…)

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16 Apr

Rogers: Parental choice for education must be protected

SDLP Spokesperson for Education Sean Rogers has spoken in opposition to a motion in the Assembly that seeks to remove requirements for a Certificate in Religious Education to teach nursery and primary level in the Catholic maintained sector. Speaking in the Assembly Mr Rogers stated that the notion that the Certificate in Religious Education permits discrimination is misleading and that the parental choice for education in a Catholic ethos must be protected.

He said: The SDLP is a strong advocate of parental choice, which is why we fought so hard to ensure that Irish-medium education, integrated and voluntary grammar schools were represented on the Board of our new Education Authority. We have a very unique educational landscape in Northern Ireland that must be managed respectfully and inclusively. Many parents want their children to be taught in a Catholic ethos but by no stretch of the imagination does this mean that they want their children to be ‘segregated’. (more…)

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16 Apr

Lunn backs call for equality of access for teachers

Alliance education spokesperson, Trevor Lunn MLA, has expressed his disappointment that the Assembly did not support an Alliance proposal for an interim measure to allow students from other teacher training institutions to acquire the Certificate in Religious Education that is only available at St Mary’s College.

Trevor put forward the proposal in an amendment to a UUP motion which called for the law to be changed to remove the exemption from fair employment laws for the appointment of teachers. Alliance supported the motion but put forward an amendment for an interim measure until the law can be changed. The motion was passed.

Trevor Lunn MLA said: “Alliance respects the Catholic education system and understands that there are specific requirements for the training of teachers who will be providing religious education in this setting. There is however a question of equality of access for teachers and ensuring that they are able to apply for all teaching positions. I hope that St Mary’s will work with Stranmillis to ensure that all student teachers have access to this course without having to take part in long distance learning from Glasgow University. (more…)

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15 Apr

Robinson Launches Pilot Programme of 100 Summer Camps

First Minister the Rt Hon Peter D. Robinson MLA today announced the launch of a pilot programme of 100 Summer Camps for young people.

Beginning this Summer, the Programme will provide a range of opportunities for post primary children to come together for academic and leisure purposes, delivered on a cross-community basis. This is one of the Headline Actions of the Together: Building a United Community Strategy published in May 2013.

The First Minister Peter Robinson said: “Together: Building a United Community is the Northern Ireland Executive’s roadmap for improving good relations with four key priorities of our children and young people, our shared community, our safe community and, our cultural expression. (more…)

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10 Apr

O’Dowd’s priorities all wrong – Trevor Lunn

Whist I have some sympathy with the Education Minister’s problems, several recent decisions fly in the face of stated ministerial priorities and obligations.

The decision on Drumragh Integrated College ignores the stated obligation to “facilitate and encourage” integrated education, to allow successful and popular schools to expand and the principle of parental choice.

In the High Court last year, the Department stated that in future, consent of other schools would not be required for a proposal to be granted, area school enrolments should not override the statutory obligation to integrated education, yet this is exactly what the Minister says lies behind his decision.

The education of our children together is a vital component of any shared future agenda, but it appears the Minister still has difficulty accepting this simple premise or honouring his legal duty in this area. (more…)

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