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Area Plans: Post-primary Process

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 19th January 2016.

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Photo of Pam Cameron Pam Cameron DUP 3:15 pm, 19th January 2016

T7. Mrs Cameron asked the Minister of Education to outline the post-primary area-based planning process and to state when decisions on that process will be made. (AQT 3357/11-16)

Photo of John O'Dowd John O'Dowd Sinn Féin

The old education and library boards published their area plans, which remain in place under the Education Authority. Decisions are being made regarding future school enrolments, school building programmes and the layout of the schools estate, based on the area-planning proposals that have been published. They are under review — they have been under constant review — and will never remain the one shape going into the future. There will always be a period of review and reflection. Area planning is a reality, it is taking place, and decisions are made based on it.

Photo of Pam Cameron Pam Cameron DUP

I thank the Minister for his answer so far. Obviously, I am concerned with the provision of post-16 education in the Antrim area in particular, because there are not a lot of choices for pupils to remain locally. I am interested to hear when he believes that decisions may be made for that area of Antrim.

Photo of John O'Dowd John O'Dowd Sinn Féin

Those are matters for the EA to finalise. There are areas in our schools provision about which I have concerns on post-16 provision and the equitability of transfer or access. The Member mentioned Antrim. I will seek further information from the Education Authority to ensure that it is moving ahead purposefully on post-16 provision in the Antrim area and to ensure that all young people have access to high-quality A-level provision.