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Education body under fire over criticism of Stormont

By Rebecca Black

Published 16/01/2016

Criticism: Peter Weir
Criticism: Peter Weir

The body that runs Catholic schools in Northern Ireland has been criticised for "overstepping its mark" after it criticised Stormont's vision for the future as "short-sighted".

The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools has released a document it has sent to Stormont which calls for the 2016/2020 Programme for Government to be "developed with education at its centre".

CCMS has also called for a "radical overhaul" of the curriculum, with new vocational qualifications equivalent to A-Levels.

"In too many schools the narrowing of the curriculum, particularly at post-16, is driven by the narrowness of the entry requirements of the Higher Education institutions," the report said, emphasising that education should be at the centre of rebuilding the economy.

It also criticises the Department of Education for being too focused on "a qualifications system which assesses knowledge and understanding rather than a broader range of skills".

The 11-page document suggests a review of existing qualifications to reflect the broader skills needed to grow the economy; reform of the careers advice service; a duty for all government departments to collaborate on education; an end to short-term projects and initiatives and more evidence-based policy.

DUP Education spokesman Peter Weir says CCMS's proposals are a "missed opportunity".

"It is disappointing that this attempt by CCMS to address educational policies is undermined by variable content, an unhelpful tone and, by their own admission, a disparate report covering issues which most people will see as straying beyond their remit.

"There are significant educational issues raised in the report, a number of which we would agree with, but the lurch in tone towards the negative, and the condescending, distracts from their central arguments," he said.

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