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Chief executive sought for controlled schools body in Northern Ireland

By Rebecca Black

Published 13/04/2016

UUP education spokeswoman Sandra Overend
UUP education spokeswoman Sandra Overend

Two years after the Assembly agreed to set up a body to support controlled schools, recruitment has commenced for a chief executive.

One of the body's tasks is to address under-achievement among some working class Protestant children.

As part of the legislation that created the Education Authority (which replaced the former five education boards), the Assembly agreed in 2014 to form a body to support controlled schools.

It was argued that with falling standards at controlled schools, they needed a support body, similar to the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) that supports maintained schools.

Now, almost 24 months later, recruitment has begun for a chief executive of a Controlled Schools Support Council (CSSC).

The post is described as a full-time position based in the greater Belfast area and comes with a salary ranging from £61,868 to £64,888.

It requires a minimum of three years leading an organisation related to the education sector.

The CSSC will not have the same type of responsibilities as the CCMS which was established as an upper tier of management for Catholic schools in 1989 in response to concerns about under-achievement. It has responsibilities including raising standards and the employment of teachers.

Instead the CSSC will provide an advocacy role and work with schools to develop and maintain a collective ethos including, where appropriate, a role in identifying, encouraging and nominating governors and in ensuring ethos is part of employment considerations.

The boards of education of the Church of Ireland, Presbyterian Church in Ireland and Methodist Church in Ireland have all welcomed the establishment of the body, saying it will correct a deficit in the education system which has existed for decades.

DUP education spokesman Peter Weir has welcomed the "step forward" for the CSSC. "The advertisement of the chief executive of the Controlled Schools Support Council is another important step forward in ensuring equality in education in Northern Ireland," he said.

"This will be a key part of the jigsaw in ensuring the full establishment of the CSSC, and will mean for the first time in education that there will be a specific body representing all controlled schools, with a place directly on the Education Authority."

UUP education spokeswoman Sandra Overend qualified her welcome of the move with the question of why it has taken so long. "It seems to have taken an age to set up this Controlled Schools Support Council and the advertising for the job of chief executive is just a step along the way," she said.

"A working group to pave the way for CSSC was set up in 2012 and the Executive agreed to its establishment in 2014."

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