Education plans unveiled at Stormont

Published Wednesday, 07 November 2012
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Education minister John O'Dowd has unveiled a series of measures designed to kickstart post-primary schools that are underperforming.

But teachers unions say morale is already low as they struggle with cuts and red tape.

In a statement to the Assembly on Tuesday, Sinn Féin minister John O'Dowd said schools need to show more effective leadership and needed to deliver higher quality teaching.

The minister is suggesting that headmasters who take up positions in under performing schools, be financially rewarded.

Quoting from the Chief Inspector's report, the minister said that it had found that in the case of post-primary schools 59% demonstrated overall effectiveness.

However, he said that translated to 41% of post primary schools in which "provision was not good enough."

Mr O'Dowd said that problems "need to be tackled - not tolerated."

He delivered a raft of recommendations that he will put in place to improve the situation - including a review of the education system by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The area planning exercise in underway as is the cross border education survey.

The minister also expects the results this week of a consultation phase for post-primary schools which concluded recently.

Mr O'Dowd said he was "determined to retain a clear, unapologetic focus on raising educational standards".

The minister said the Chief Inspector's report painted an improving picture in Northern Ireland's primary schools which shows "the revised curriculum has bedded in well and is making a difference."

Mr O'Dowd proposed bringing in legislation to strengthen the role of the General Teaching Council which he said would support teachers and uphold the highest teaching standards.

Mervyn Storey, the DUP Chair of the Education Committee, is sceptical at what has been announced.

He said teachers listening to the minister's proposals would be of the opinion that they are being asked to "pick up the tab for the failures of the department rather than addressing the issues which are currently in our educational system."

Teaching unions are also concerned.

Avril Hall Callaghan, of the Ulster Teachers' Union, told UTV that they were very shocked at the minister's statement.

"What we are not happy about is his comments about teachers and schools not being satisfactory."

Ms Hall Callaghan said that there had been very little support for teachers and schools over the last while.

She said there was "very low morale" among teaching staff in some schools.

"What we need is the inspectorate to be a supportive service."

© UTV News
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1 Comments
Ex-Teacher in Belfast wrote (524 days ago):
It is high time that teachers were allowed to get on with teaching children - without having to listen to the theories of parents, politicians, inspectors, and everybody who has a few qualifications. In one school I worked in, the parents wanted to come in and help with the teaching. No-one comes into an office and offers to help the typist or accounts clerk do their work. But everyone thinks they can teach. As to the inspectorate: at the only General Inspection I was ever part of - the inspectors were not interested in the childrens education - but only in what they did at play-time.
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