17 Jun

Sandra Overend appointed new Education Spokesperson for the Ulster Unionist Party

Mid Ulster MLA Sandra Overend has been appointed Vice- Chair of the Stormont Education Committee, and Ulster Unionist Party spokesperson on education, by her party leader Mike Nesbitt.

Mrs Overend said: “I am very pleased to be given the opportunity to lead for the Ulster Unionist Party on education, and to replace my friend and colleague, Danny Kinahan as Vice- Chair of the Stormont Committee.

“Danny has worked incredibly hard over the past four years building positive relationships with teachers, principals and unions right across the educational spectrum. I hope to build on these relationships in the months to come. (more…)

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16 Jun

Rogers: Local savings can fund essential education services

SDLP Spokesperson for Education, Sean Rogers MLA has called on the Department of Education to increase savings by delegating more financial autonomy to schools. Speaking in the Assembly Chamber, Mr Rogers detailed how savings made in administration could be used to increase spending in the classroom to further focus on STEM subjects, support the Early Years Fund develop Youth Services.

He said: “I have consistently argued that the main priority for this assembly and its approach to education should be delivering within the classroom. I believe that Northern Ireland must be consistently raising the standards in the proper provision of education and that in order to do so there must be a consistent strategy and balanced funding for all levels of a child’s development.

“Education forms the building blocks of our society and our economy and it is through education that our children and Young people will develop their attitudes and views of the world. Education remains essential for gaining the tools necessary to build a fulfilling future. I call on the Minister to use this money wisely and effectively.

“Sound financial management can empower our schools and other institutions to meet the educational needs of all young people. Through local management, the large majority of schools have demonstrated that they are capable of sound financial management. I have no doubt if the other aspects of their budget was delegated they could do a much better job at ensuring value for money.

“I have spoken many times about the procurement process for general maintenance. Schools could save thousands here and redirect these fund to where the need is greatest, the classroom. With less money tied up in Administration at the Department of Education and Authority level, then primary schools could deploy resources in areas of curricular need, starting with STEM subjects.

“Educational funding must make proper provision for young people in order to help them reach the highest possible standards of educational achievement and as outlined by the estimate, to grant them a secure foundation for not only lifelong learning and employment but develop their values and attitudes so that they may help bring in new prosperity to Northern Ireland.”


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1 Jun

Controlled Sector Must Have Level Playing Field in Area Planning

DUP Education Spokesman and Chair of the Assembly’s Education Committee Peter Weir has said there should be a ‘reboot’ of the Area Planning process in education and in particular a level playing field for the Controlled Sector.

His comments come as the Assembly debated a position paper prepared by the Education Committee on Area Planning, calling for the Education Minister to implement the recommendations within the document.

The North Down MLA said, “Area Planning to drive efficiencies, improve attainment, increase co-operation and help tackle surplus places is a concept that everyone can buy into. It is therefore very disappointing that its implementation has been so badly flawed, particularly by very foreseeable difficulties. In some areas it has alienated parents and schools and rather than solve problems, has helped nurture the sort of problem currently faced with secondary school places in East Belfast. Sadly this is not an isolated example. (more…)

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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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