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Belfast crisis-hit De La Salle College report released following 'breakdown of working relationships'

Published 24/08/2016

De La Salle College
De La Salle College

An independent report into problems at De La Salle College in Belfast has been released following the "deterioration of working relationships in the school".

In April, former Education Minister John O'Dowd ordered an independent investigation into events at the west Belfast school.

There have been ongoing industrial problems over the last year.

About a third of the 70-strong teaching staff at the school were absent for a number of days before the Easter holiday.

The report said that the problems date back over three years and there were "difficulties developing well before the deterioration to the current circumstances".

It also said it was "unacceptable that relationship breakdowns within a school at governance or teacher levels should impact on pupils"

The three-person panel, made up of leading educationalist Sir Robert Salisbury, trade unionist John Corey and Belfast Metropolitan College's principal Marie-Thérèse McGivern, added: "We have made the strong recommendation that all must commit to making the school uncompromisngly 'child-centred' and put the education of students firmly at its heart."

The report made 40 recommendations for the Catholic for Catholic Maintained Schools, Board of Governors at the school, the Education Authority, Department of Education, Education and Training inspectorate, the trade unions, school leaders and staff.

Current Education Minister Peter Weir said: “I have now had time to consider the Independent Panel’s report and accept all of the recommendations within the report.

“I have asked my officials to work with CCMS and the Education Authority to put in place suitable arrangements for overseeing implementation of the report’s recommendations and work has already begun to ensure that this is done.

“As I have said before, my priority remains the pupils at the school. I am confident that the Panel’s report will provide a sound platform for moving forward in building relations within the school and the wider community, while also making a positive contribution to ensuring that all children receive a quality education experience.”

A spokesperson for CCMS said: “CCMS welcomed the appointment of the independent panel to review the situation at De La Salle College and, as such, we accept the recommendations they have made.

“CCMS is committed to working with the school and the other relevant bodies to ensure the implementation of these recommendations. We will now study the report and its proposals in more detail to develop a comprehensive plan to ensure a more positive experience for all those involved with the school.

“There are both challenges and opportunities arising from the report which, with the goodwill, spirit of co-operation and positive leadership from everyone involved, will ensure that the focus remains firmly on a high quality education experience for the pupils and a deservedly enhanced reputation for De La Salle and all who study and work there.”

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