Key Stage 4 Development Proposals

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 30th June 2020.

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Photo of Doug Beattie Doug Beattie UUP 2:30 pm, 30th June 2020

12. Mr Beattie asked the Minister of Education how many schools, across all sectors, have submitted development proposals to his Department to allow the teaching of Key Stage 4. (AQO 504/17-22)

Photo of Peter Weir Peter Weir DUP

To date, no development proposals have been submitted to my Department for the establishment of Key Stage 4 provision at a post-primary school. With the exception of junior schools, which are included in the Dickson plan, and St John the Baptist's College in Portadown, post-primary schools already offer Key Stage 4 provision.

Photo of Doug Beattie Doug Beattie UUP

I thank the Minister for his very pointed answer to what was a very pointed question, and I congratulate the Minister for his leadership in taking that pragmatic decision, outside of process, to allow St John the Baptist's College to become a Key Stage 4 school. That really did transform things for a lot of people in that area. Therefore, I ask the Minister to show the same leadership and the same pragmatic thinking to allow Lurgan Junior High School to become a Key Stage 4 school so that we no longer have to send pupils to the Lurgan campus of Craigavon Senior High School, which has systemic and long-term safeguarding issues.

Photo of Peter Weir Peter Weir DUP

I am always slightly concerned when the Member starts to praise me, because I think that there is always a potential sting in the tail. Let me make it clear that specific provision has been made for this year and this year alone to allow St John the Baptist's College to provide a syllabus at Key Stage 4, given the circumstances where an overwhelming proportion of parents — around 90%, I think — were keen for interim arrangements. That is not the same as a development proposal, and, indeed, it is not necessarily the acceptance of Key Stage 4 at St John the Baptist's College. This is about an interim position, and, consequently, St John the Baptist's College will still need to come forward with a development proposal, which will be considered on its merits.

Similarly, if Lurgan Junior High or, indeed, any other school, as part of the overall process, comes forward with a development proposal, it will be taken on its merits. I am acutely aware across the board of the need to ensure that, whatever provision is made for our pupils, it is done in a safe and healthy environment, particularly given some of the conditions. I appreciate some of the constraints that are there with some of the physical buildings in the system.