Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 27 November 2014

MLAs warned on school closure fears

Education minister John O'Dowd told the Assembly not to focus on individual schools
Education minister John O'Dowd told the Assembly not to focus on individual schools

Politicians have been warned against raising individual schools at the Assembly while possible closures are in the pipeline.

Education minister John O'Dowd said that if MLAs brought forward debates about schools in their areas they might raise unnecessary fears in communities.

The minister recently called for a swift review of schools to identify those which are failing pupils.

And he told the Assembly that pupils, and not school buildings, should be the priority.

Arguing against asking questions about the future of individual schools, he said: "It only heightens concerns in communities.

"I would much prefer to see an informed debate taking place around each school as it comes forward.

"I think that members have a duty to inform themselves in detail about each school. The information is available to them from a wide range of sources.

"I don't think debating individual schools on the floor of this chamber is doing any individual school any good going in to the future."

Answering questions in the Assembly, he added: "And I have to say this, at the core of all schools is pupils.

"And I have said this in the chamber before, we should not become fixated on buildings, we need to become fixated on the young people who are supposed to be educated within those buildings."

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