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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30 Mar

No consistency from Education Minister in school expansion decisions: Kinahan

Ulster Unionist Party Education Spokesperson Danny Kinahan MLA has commented on the decision of Minister O’Dowd to reject, for a second time, a proposal to increase enrolment numbers at an Integrated secondary school in Omagh.

Danny Kinahan MLA said: “Several things strike me about this decision by the Minister not to expand the intake at Drumragh Integrated College in Omagh.

“I fail to see any consistency in the Minister’s decision making. He mentions his statutory responsibility in relation to facilitating integrated education. He did the same in relation to Irish Medium when approving a new Irish language school near Dungiven recently.  (more…)

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30 Mar

Education cuts are Sinn Fein cuts

Ulster Unionist Party education spokesperson Danny Kinahan MLA has said no one should be fooled by Minister O’Dowd’s continual buck passing on his education cuts.

The South Antrim MLA said: “Minister O’Dowd cannot be allowed to use the ‘blame Westminster austerity’ line for what are his decisions on his education budget. His reported comments at the recent teacher union conferences are buck passing of the highest order. If the Minister really wants to know what austerity looks like, he need only look south to the Republic of Ireland, an economy which he wants us to be shackled to.

“The fact is that in January, when Sinn Fein and the DUP voted for the budget, Minister O’Dowd claimed, “There is no reduction to schools delegated budgets”. His party colleague Mr Hazard added, “This additional money will go a long way in helping to protect frontline services such as the jobs of teaching and non-teaching staff.” (more…)

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19 Mar

Swann welcomes Stranmillis proposal on teacher training

Robin Swann MLA, Ulster Unionist Party spokesperson on Employment and Learning, has welcomed proposals from Stranmillis College regarding the future of teacher training in Northern Ireland.

Mr Swann said: “I welcome the fact that Stranmillis has entered the public debate on the future of teacher training in Northern Ireland. Their proposal deserves serious consideration from the Minister of Employment and Learning in the first instance, and ultimately the Stormont Executive.

“We have had literally years of reviews, reports and consultations. However, since the publication of the latest international panel review last summer, the debate has been diverted onto the issue of the premia and the funding of Stranmillis and St Mary’s teacher training colleges. The Minister promised consultation around the 4 broad options which emerged in the report, but that simply has not materialised. (more…)

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