Overend discusses future of rural schools with education chief

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ULSTER Unionist MLA for Mid Ulster, Sandra Overend, has met with Chief Executive of the NEELB to discuss local education issues during the board’s audit of rural schools.

The audit, which was launched by the Education Minister at the Assembly in September, is being carried out by each of the five Education and Library Boards. The boards are examining the quality of the educational experience, current and projected pupil numbers and the financial position of all rural schools within their jurisdiction.

Mrs Overend commented: “Rural schools have been at the heart of rural life for generations and many of us in Mid Ulster have very strong attachments to the history of these schools as places of learning and community cohesion.”

“I acknowledge that the future of our education sector will require new approaches to educational delivery to ensure our children receive an education that can compete with the very best on a global scale. However, I urge the Minister to act with caution when he receives the final audit report.

“The Minister has to be sensitive to the value of rural educational provision and to the commitment to excellence from many hundreds of teachers and auxiliary staff. Importantly, he must ensure that he displays a clear equality of treatment across all the educational sectors when drawing his conclusions,” she continued.

“I am an advocate for rural school provision and I will endeavour to do everything that I can to support and secure our rural education sector. I will be happy to work with our schools and support them as they make representations to the board.”

The Minister is expected to receive the final audit report in January.