Entitlement Framework: Feedback

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 23rd January 2017.

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Photo of Keith Buchanan Keith Buchanan DUP 2:30 pm, 23rd January 2017

T2. Mr K Buchanan asked the Minister of Education whether he has received any feedback from school principals about the entitlement framework. (AQT 677/16-21)

Photo of Peter Weir Peter Weir DUP

This is a practical decision that was taken. We were getting messages, particularly from school principals and schools, that the scale of what was there was placing an onerous burden on them. Nobody doubts that we need to ensure that young people have the fullest opportunity, and we had that before the decision was taken. Subsequently, I have had feedback from a number of school principals who see this as a practical solution that has eased the burden on them in what are tight financial situations.

I know that a lot of schools are doing this already, but I take the opportunity to say that, particularly for its delivery and the delivery of subjects, the entitlement framework is a great vehicle for greater levels of cooperation, collaboration and sharing between schools. That is particularly the case with some minority subjects, on which you get two or three schools in the same town collaborating. I know that that happens in Bangor in my constituency among three of the schools. They are collaborating to provide that maximum level of opportunity. Generally speaking, I think that the announcement has been welcomed by school principals.

Photo of Keith Buchanan Keith Buchanan DUP

I thank the Minister for his answer. Is it part of a wider Education Authority policy?

Photo of Peter Weir Peter Weir DUP

The idea is to give greater autonomy to schools by providing them with the ability to make decisions. In a previous existence, which will show my age, I might have described those decisions as being taken at the chalkface, but now I suppose that I should say interactive whiteboard. Indeed, saying that may even be out of date. This is about allowing that opportunity for those sensible decisions to be taken at the level of school principals, boards of governors and teachers, all of whom know what is in the best interests of their children, rather than an attempt to dictate downwards from the Department of Education. That is an important step. For whoever succeeds me in taking those decisions, that is something that needs to carry on.

Photo of Caitriona Ruane Caitriona Ruane Deputy Speaker

The Member listed to ask topical question 3 has withdrawn his name.