“that at any time a majority of members are councillors..”

UUP leader Reg Empey mentioned his party’s reservations over the Education Bill, and the way it appeared, on yesterday’s Stormont Live and today the Belfast Telegraph has more on the UUP opposition to the detail, but not the principle, of the legislation. Meanwhile, at the Assembly’s Education Committee, attempts by government officials to reassure voluntary grammars that, following the proposed transfer of employment of staff, the new body would not be “a big brother system” were somewhat undermined by Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd.

Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd (Upper Bann) said it was right that the ESA was trying to put more accountability in the voluntary sector. “I suggest if the voluntary grammar schools seek their independence they should stop taking taxpayers’ money,” he said.

“And then they wouldn’t have the hassle of people who are elected by taxpayers to make sure taxpayers’ money is spent properly holding them to account. “Any group or any body that is being given large sums of taxpayers’ money has to have accountability in them in my opinion, there’s no option other than to bring them in under the employing authority (ESA).”

Although, as I mentioned last night, with the Education Minister appointing members of the ESA, including councillors, it’s not entirely clear how that “accountability” will operate in practice.. And if those schools were spending “improperly” doesn’t the Minister already have the authority to address that?From the Education Bill

Membership

2. -(1) ESA shall consist of –

(a) a Chair, and

(b) not fewer than 7 or more than 11 other members,

appointed by the Department.

(2) In making appointments under sub-paragraph (1), the Department shall so far as practicable secure ¾

(a) that at any time a majority of members are councillors (within the meaning of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972 (c. 9)); and

(b) that each member has experience in a field of activity relevant to the discharge of the functions of ESA.

(3) The Department may by order amend sub-paragraph (1)(b) by substituting for the numbers specified there such other numbers as may be specified in the order.

The first question to be asked is given that there are to be 11 new local Councils, and assuming each Council can identify appropriately qualified councillors, are all 11 members to be councillors? Or should that figure be increased already?

And, in the apparent absence of a mechanism for Councils to propose appropriately qualified councillors, who are appointed members of the ESA, including those councillors, accountable to?

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  • DC

    Perhaps if John O’Dowd could get the Minister, Ruane, to stop using language such as equality and status quo, language which is previously associated by Republicans to discriminatory Unionism, in relation to constitutional wrangles then maybe, just maybe, Unionists might be able to consider some of her proposals clearly.

  • Stadler

    Word from Hanson Headquarters is that professor Beaker’s flasks at ESA are about to explode.

  • martin

    Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd (Upper Bann) said it was right that the ESA was trying to put more accountability in the voluntary sector. “I suggest if the voluntary grammar schools seek their independence they should stop taking taxpayers’ money,” he said.

    “And then they wouldn’t have the hassle of people who are elected by taxpayers to make sure taxpayers’ money is spent properly holding them to account. “Any group or any body that is being given large sums of taxpayers’ money has to have accountability in them in my opinion, there’s no option other than to bring them in under the employing authority (ESA).”

    WHAT ABOUT CCMS, SHOULD THIS ROMAN CATHOLIC ORGANISATION GET TAX PAYERS MONEY

  • Baz está fresco em Vermont

    There is accountability and there is accountability, the schools belong to parents, unless the parents have what’s called ‘a view’,

    in which case the Church owns them. It is quite simple, and it avoids most of the revolutionary syntax, some of you were complaining about.

    It is ultramontanism, unless the Pope has a view, he can be difficult, he’s a bit like the parents, in which case. The main thing is, the schools are operated properly.

  • Baz está fresco em Vermont

    “I suggest if the voluntary grammar schools seek their independence they should stop taking taxpayers’ money,”

    Speaking as a ‘Catholic’, like in the religion, one might do well, to look upon SF as a threat.

    I don’t think it is going to work out with SF, who in the round, don’t believe in God.

  • Essentialist

    So the Minister for Education will appoint councillors possessing the disposition “that each member has experience in a field of activity relevant to the discharge of the functions of ESA”

    Nominees should at least include Diane Dodds for her Early Years Enriched Curriculum experience on the Shankill and for her support of the CCEA plan to further undermine Protestant areas of deprivation.

  • The Raven

    “that each member has experience in a field of activity relevant to the discharge of the functions of ESA”

    I don’t wish to appear disparaging of our elected representatives….but…and I tried here….really hard….how many of them are educationalists, teachers, home tutors, etc…?

    Come to think of it, with regard to RPA, how many of them have proper planning experience? Rural Development experience? Urban regeneration experience? Power of well-being experience?

    Oh my how the list goes on, and how the temptation to jack the job in for a year and actually run, grows and grows and grows….

    Cos frankly, I am SICK of every time one of these arseholes who (at council level) get a few hundred votes, pull lines like Mr O’Dowd has just threateningly done, above.

    John, here’s the craic. They may be public servants, but it doesn’t stop them from being voters, parents, teachers, and it doesn’t stop them from questioning YOU about how well or how poorly you do the job. In fact, as someone who ISN’T a teacher, or a headmaster, I expect it of them. And so should you.

    Alas for you lot, it’s all been pretty pish poor lately. So expect more of the same.

  • cynic

    Has John O’Dowd been on one of those standup comedy courses?

    When has his party ever been held accountable for anything? Not holding some people accountable is why they are able to hold office today!

    The problem is too, what does he mean by accountability?

    Accountability is not the issue in this. What the Minister has done is move executive CONTROL to a group led by elected representatives who have consistently shown themselves collectively to:-

    1 be unable to run anything
    2 be unwilling to take hard decisions
    3 be unable to live within a budget
    4 have no sense of strategy and no capacity to deliver

    But if this is to be, let it happen. Just make sure that we agree that the boys get no extra money for this. Not a penny for sitting on this. Then let’s see just how popular it will be.

    I am sure our councillors will flock to do it out of a sense of civic duty

  • DC

    “I suggest if the voluntary grammar schools seek their independence they should stop taking taxpayers’ money,”

    It makes you wonder whether the grammars shouldn’t just raise fees.

    The problem with using SF’s form of equality language wording to schooling performance is that it tends to shift the mindset to zero-sum where some, i.e. grammar school largely middle-class kids, are seen as irregular and privileged.

    But, the SF language is divisive as those that go to grammar schools, while not everyone is perfect, on the whole though they are usually unassuming and plain keen on learning, they are well behaved. Should they have to have that unequal tag stuck to them in order that SF wins an argument for change in that way?

    Do they really deserve to take the brunt of reverse stigmatism in the way that Ruane gives out?

    Perhaps the parents should pay so as their children aren’t stigmatised as holding others back via some unfair schooling system apparently geared up so as their children can succeed only.

    At least then it might stop the bullying of socially reserved middle class children who are poked and prodded on the trains, buses etc by others because people perceive them as magically being better than them due to a bent system in their favour.

    The truth is they like their schoolwork, like to learn and have applied themselves with the right attitude to get on in life.

    If Ruane could focus more on that and highlight the fact that families in general are the biggest drivers of inequality rather than grammar schooling systems maybe this might cut out some of the prejudice associated with language such as ‘elitism’ and ‘inequality’ of the grammars.

    So, rather then it is aptitude and attitude towards learning and in an environment both at school and at home that is conducive to strengthening learning.

    Why is it that at the point of non-selection in primary schools that come the end of the year some do not perform universally well – to her own standard in terms of numeracy and literacy? Where is the divergence point and why?

  • Continental Drifter

    The idea of a majority of local councillors is ridiculous – they’ve buggered up the existing Boards as it is!

    As for O’Dowd, if that’s the case, why don’t Catholic schools go independent too? That way, we could haev a proper republican system.

    CD

  • Jim Henson – Muppett Master

    Simple DC

    A Catholic ESA for a Catholic people. Purge the British grammars out of the system. Control the other Prod schools in a fascist new regime headed by a supremo without brakes on his powers. Convert them to “integrated” BTW the DUP wanted the political representatives to pretend that they were effective negotiators.

    Isn’t Stormont wonderful?