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Apprentice Jim Eastwood backs demand for education reform

By Lindsay Fergus

Apprentice star Jim Eastwood has signed up to the One School Of Thought Campaign.

The Cookstown man is just one of scores of personalities who have endorsed calls for an Education Commission to be set up to reform Northern Ireland's outdated education system.

Jim (32) said: "I was keen to put my name to any strategy or campaign that promoted a cohesive approach to education."

The businessman, who made it to the final of The Apprentice with his pitch for e-learning for young entrepreneurs/schools, continued: "I think it would be naive to think that schools cannot benefit from one another's experience, facilities and best practice. If there is a shared approach it bodes well for a shared society."

A past pupil of St Mary's Grammar School in Magherafelt, Jim said: "I have been very fortunate to have had an excellent education within Northern Ireland."

Jim is just one of 75 signatories who put their name to an open letter to MLAs and ministers calling for educational reform.

Other backers include comedian Jake O'Kane, Belfast Giants manager Todd Kelman, actress Geraldine Hughes and TV star Joanna Lumley.

The open letter states: "In our view, quality educational outcomes for all must remain the immediate focus for the Executive and the Education Minister.

"This is best achieved within a reformed educational system in which children of all faiths or none, and regardless of ethnicity, cultural and social backgrounds, learn and are taught together in their local schools.

"This would make best use of scarce educational resources in a time of unprecedented reductions in public expenditure and would undoubtedly bring longer-term economic, educational and societal benefits to us all."

Six hours after the launch of the campaign, the website had 500 more hits, 100 new Twitter followers and 160 petition signatories.

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