Independent panel appointed to review crisis-hit De La Salle College
An independent panel has been appointed to review the situation at the crisis-hit De La Salle College in Belfast.
Parents have expressed fears over their children's education over an ongoing dispute among the staff since last November.
Large numbers of the west Belfast school's staff have staged protests in the school and called in sick over the handling of a disciplinary matter.
Education Minister John O'Dowd has said there can be "no doubt" the boys' education has been hindered.
On Thursday, Mr O’Dowd, announced the appointment of John Corey, former General Secretary of the trade union NIPSA, Ms Marie-Therese McGivern, principal and chief executive of Belfast Metropolitan College and Sir Robert Salisbury, former professor in the School of Education at the University of Nottingham, to the panel.
“I consider the panel members to be eminently well qualified and experienced to investigate the circumstances in the school and to make recommendations to ensure the school’s future going forward," said Mr O'Dowd.
“Work continues to be undertaken by the relevant authorities to address the immediate concerns within the school, including the appointment of an additional associate principal.
“My priority continues to be to the pupils at the school and this investigation will give pupils, parents, staff and their representatives and all those involved with the governance of the school the opportunity to express their view.”
It is anticipated that the independent panel will report back to the Department of Education with recommendations by early summer.
The NASUWT represents almost half the teachers at De La Salle College in Belfast.
It welcomed the announcement
In a statement, the union said: "The appointment of the three-member-panel should reassure all partners in the De La Salle community that Minister O’Dowd is committed to finding a robust resolution to the recent period of challenge.
"Nonetheless, it is the terms of reference that will be critical to the success or otherwise of the investigation.
“Notwithstanding our support for the investigation, the NASUWT will seek assurances from the panel that their work will not cause any further disruption to teaching and learning as we move forward.
“Working with the associate principals, we will remain committed to ensuring that stability and high standards are sustained throughout the examination season.
“The strategic plan for renewal and the preservation of high quality education is our immediate focus.”