“a failure in good governance”

I had noted Cardinal Sean Brady’s concerns about the Education and Skills Authority ahead of his appearance in front of the NI Assembly’s Education Committee yesterday, and the comments by the Chairman of the Committee, the DUP’s Mervyn Storey. [Did John O’Dowd tell the Cardinal to ‘move on’? – Ed] In the Irish Times Gerry Moriarty reports on that meeting.

Cardinal Brady expressed considerable concern that the department’s planned new Education and Skills Authority (ESA) would undermine the ability of schools’ trustees and boards of governors to run Catholic schools.

He said that one clause in the Minister’s draft education Bill making the ESA the employer of all staff in all schools was unacceptable. “This is a fundamental impediment to the ability of owners/trustees to exercise their right and duty to promote and safeguard the ethos and defining character of a school. To exercise our duties as trustees adequately we require that the board of governors of each school shall be the legal employer of all staff in the school,” he added.

The Irish Times report also notes the response from an anonymous “spokesman for Ms Ruane”, the NI Education Minister.

A spokesman for Ms Ruane said the commission’s suggestion that individual boards of governors, rather than the ESA should be the formal employers of staff would depart from the arrangements in the education Bill. It would also depart from the current arrangements for Catholic maintained schools, in which teachers are employed by the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools, and non-teaching staff are employed by the North’s education and library boards.

“It is not clear from the submission why the commission feels that only individual school employers can safeguard the ethos of Catholic schools, particularly when at present the vast majority of Catholic schools are part of collective employment arrangements,” he added.

Meanwhile, as the NI Education budget goes largely unnoticed, the BBC reports on unease amongst education representatives for the Methodist, Church of Ireland and Presbyterian churches about an unregulated post-primary transfer system. From the BBC report

Education representatives for the Methodist, Church of Ireland and Presbyterian churches said in a statement that the current uncertainty “represents a failure in good governance”.

The Reverend Trevor Gribben of the Presbyterian Church said he believed their views represented a “huge unease” felt by many.

“It’s amongst principals, governors and teachers in primary schools, who are being put under huge pressure,” he said.

“It’s unease amongst parents of year six pupils and the pupils themselves, who do not want the potential chaos of an unregulated system.

“People who are setting tests are trying their very best to get rid of that confusion, but nonetheless it exists.

“Government have a responsibility to do something about it and we are calling, even at this late stage, on the minister of education to sit down with the political parties to try and find interim agreed arrangements for transfer.”

Apparently, the Catholic Church “is to reveal its thinking on the post-primary transfer system next week.”

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  • Kathy_C

    Hi all,

    getting rid of the Catholic Council is so very pro-british and is the avenue martin mcguiness is taking sinn fein.

  • ulsterfan

    It is about time the Assembly stood up to the Church.
    How can Trustees/Governors own a school when the tax payer paid everything to the last penny and continues to pay all costs etc.
    Does the Cardinal really believe in a free lunch.
    He who pays the piper will always call the tune.
    The Church will have to live in the real world which is changing very fast.
    Lets move away from this sectarian form of education which only perpetuates the apartheid existing in our society.

  • Essentialist

    Cardinal Brady and his Catholic Commission have stepped on to the big stage on the education issue by citing in their evidence to the education committee the European Convention on Human Rights.

    The First Protocol (1952) to the European Convention on Human Rights includes the right to education (article 2):

    No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.

    Implementation of the Convention is ensured through cases brought before the European Court of Human Rights.

    Now the Cardinal is busy imploring the Education Committee to respect the rights of the Catholic church during consideration of the ESA bill on religious belief grounds while at the same time ignoring, nay trampling over, the rights of parents with respect to their philosophical convictions on the matter of academic selection and grammar schools.

    You see Cardinal Brady’s Church has declared academic selection “unethical”.

    As predicted by many observers this matter is only likely to be settled in a courtroom.

    Selection is clearly favoured by Cardinal Brady if only those aspects of the European Convention on Human Rights he chooses to acknowledge.

  • joeCanuck

    How can Trustees/Governors own a school when the tax payer paid everything to the last penny and continues to pay all costs etc.

    Not true for older schools.
    Anyway, my own view is that there should be no payments to religious schools. One system for all with religious instruction done in Sunday school type settings; eg. the school could be used after hours.

  • Essentialist

    Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence http://www.bbc.co.uk/northernireland/radioulster/sunday_sequence/
    is scheduled to address this subject through Malachi O’ Doherty but with clear instructions not to mention the academic selection/11-plus impasse.

    Unfortunately for the educationalists the two are inextricably linked.

  • ABC

    Another slap in the kite for Ruane.