Employment and Learning

Part of Oral Answers to Questions – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 12th March 2013.

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Photo of Stephen Farry Stephen Farry Alliance 2:30 pm, 12th March 2013

I thank the Member for that question and the comments.  Let me address the issue in two respects.  First, concern has been expressed at the fact that there is a college improvement plan that predates the publication of the report.  Obviously, the report was being developed within a particular context and direction of travel, and the improvement plan will recognise that to a certain extent.

However, I have been very clear with the board of governors.  I am sure that Members would support me in saying that what we need is an action plan that addresses specifically the recommendations in the McConnell report.  In some respects, that action plan will now supersede the improvement plan.  It will build upon the improvement plan — themes in the improvement plan will be subsumed into the action plan — but it will be the action plan that has to clearly identify and pick up on the various comments that were made in that report. 

In terms of the wider issue, I believe that it is now for the board of governors to take ownership of addressing the issue.  Comments have been made about the board of governors, and I would certainly encourage the board to be more proactive in exercising its functions in the management of the college.  There are also issues for the management and the unions in the college.  In the first instance, it is important that we give the board of governors the space and opportunity to deliver upon the report's recommendations, and to do so as quickly as possible.