ULSTER Unionist Assembly Member for Mid-Ulster, Sandra Overend, has voiced her concerns over the Education Bill and has urged her constituents to examine this proposed legislation as they bring concerns to the future management of all schools.
Sandra, who is also the party’s Spokesperson for Children and Young People, said:
“The Education Bill threatens to fundamentally change the way our education systems works. While I agree with my party colleague Danny Kinahan that educational reforms are needed, the Bill, proposed by the Sinn Féin run Education Department, runs the risk of damaging much of the education system in place currently.
“Indeed the way the Bill is currently drafted gives the Education and Skills Authority powers to overturn and supersede the powers supposedly being given to Boards of Governors, Trustees and other school bodies.
WThe Department gives with one hand and takes back with the other. The Bill also fails to fully explain the relationship between the Department, the ESA and the schools, boards and trustees, leading to, at best confusion, and at worst exploitation.”
Ms Overend continued: “The Department also seems to be given a blank cheque to do what it likes, allowing Sinn Féin to take ideological control of the education system. Sinn Féin’s ideological opposition to the voluntary grammar sector is very clearly displayed in the Bill, as they are entirely overlooked in the Area Planning section, which divides schools into unnaturally narrow sectors.
“Furthermore, on the Board of the ESA there will be a chair, 8 political appointed representatives, 12 members appointed by the Department, with no representation at all from the Voluntary Grammar sector.
“With this in place, some of our schools in Mid-Ulster, and right across the country, may not get the representation that they and their pupils need, which is a very troublesome thought.”
Ms Overend urged anyone who shares her concerns to contact her office to complete a survey produced by the UUP.