1 Jun

Rogers: Cohesive Area Based Plan needed for Education system

SDLP Education spokesperson Sean Rogers MLA has called on the Education Minister to implement the recommendations of the Area Based Planning Report. Speaking in the Assembly Chamber, Mr Rogers highlighted the need to counter the increasing culture of competition between schools, develop cross-border co-operation and implement a cohesive strategic plan for education in the North.

He said: “I would call on the Minister to take careful heed of this report and to implement its recommendations. With the Education Authority now in place, it is vital that we get area based planning right. It is time we have one cohesive and strategic plan in place, a plan that takes account of our unique educational landscape across the North. (more…)

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30 Apr

Will McGuinness support referendum on changes made to Belfast Agreement? – Nesbitt

Ulster Unionist Leader, Mike Nesbitt MLA, has challenged Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness to support his call for a Referendum on the changes that his Party made to the 1998 Belfast Agreement, which itself was endorsed by the people of Northern Ireland in a Referendum.

Mr Nesbitt said: “Martin McGuinness is calling for a Referendum on same sex marriage. I acknowledge this is a very important issue for those who wish to have that option in their lives, but it directly impacts very few of our citizens. What impacts on everyone are the significant changes Martin McGuinness and others have made to the Belfast Agreement without reference back to the people. (more…)

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27 Apr

Empey deeply concerned at loss of student places

The former Employment and Learning Minister, Lord Empey, has expressed concern and anger at the loss of student places announced by Queen’s University, in their response to the reduction in funding due to the budget crisis at Stormont.

The Ulster Unionist Peer said: “One of the most significant achievements of Stormont, and the Department of Employment and Learning in particular, has been the rise in student participation in Higher Education to the 50% level and within that, to see 41% of those students coming from disadvantaged backgrounds. These are the highest figures in the UK and something we should be rightly proud of. These students are the seed corn of our future skills bank, and can be the means of attracting and creating investment by the private sector.

“How sad it is that we are now going to see two things as a result of these reductions in student places. Firstly, reducing the number of skilled people in our future workforce, and secondly the reductions will hit those from disadvantaged backgrounds the hardest. The entry level qualifications will have to rise in response to the cuts, making it harder to get a university place. (more…)

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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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