We have some ministerial answers to questions posed by David Anderson, the Labour MP for Blaydon:Education
Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what steps (a) education and library boards and (b) the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools are taking in their rationalisation plans to ensure that the principles of the Policy and Strategic Framework for Good Relations in Northern Ireland: A Shared Future are delivered? (2) what the timescale is for the strategic review of the schools estate; and whether it will consider how promoting cross-community and cross-sectoral sharing can be incorporated into rationalisation of schools?
Maria Eagle: The independent Strategic Review of Education will consider how strategic planning and rationalisation of the schools’ estate can best encourage and support cross-community and cross-sector collaboration and models of schooling that promote greater integrating of education. It is due to be completed by November 2006. In line with the First Triennial Action Plan for A Shared Future, the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools and the Education and Library Boards will be required to demonstrate that options for collaboration/sharing on a cross-community basis have been considered and fully explored in developing their plans for reorganisation/rationalisation of the schools’ estate. The outcome of the strategic review of education may lead to further refinement of the commitments and detailed actions in the Action Plan.
Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what role the new district councils will have in planning for educational choice in Northern Ireland following the Review of Public Administration?
David Cairns: As part of the implementation of the Review of Public Administration, district councils will be given community planning powers. The Department of Environment (DoE) is currently developing proposals to inform the necessary legislation. The community planning process will afford local government the opportunity to influence the planning for educational choice.
Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) who will be responsible for ensuring that actions to support greater sharing in education under the Triennial Action Plan for A Shared Future are monitored; (2) what powers he has to ensure that all educational partners in Northern Ireland meet the requirements of the Policy and Strategic
Framework for Good Relations: A Shared Future?
Mr. Hanson: The Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister is responsible for monitoring the actions flowing from the Triennial Action Plan of A Shared Future. The Shared Future Triennial Action Plan, published on 27 April 2006, sets out ministerial commitments and actions in relation to A Shared Future. Specific actions are set out to promote greater sharing in
education. The commitments and actions are underpinned by existing duties and obligations under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and the Race Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 as amended.
Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps teacher training colleges in Northern Ireland have taken to develop sharing in teacher education as set out in the Policy and Strategic Framework for Good Relations: A Shared Future.
Maria Eagle: Since 2005, the Northern Ireland University Colleges have jointly delivered, an “Inter-College Programme for Diversity and Mutual Understanding”, as an essential aspect of study for all student teachers. The programme is designed and organised by the college’s joint liaison group comprised of members of academic staff and students who work alongside the Nation Union of Students—Union of Students of Ireland (NUS-USI) to deal with issued such as racism, sectarianism and development of positive community relations.