Belfast Telegraph

Apology over handling of special schools plan

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

The Education Authority (EA) has apologised for its handling of controversial plans to cut special school nursery hours.

EA chairwoman Sharon O'Connor told MLAs on Stormont's Education Scrutiny Committee that she was sorry for any distress they may have caused.

She said: "If parents are upset I am more than happy to apologise to them."

The EA proposal to slash pre-school provision from 22 to 12 hours a week from September was heavily criticised by parents, school principals and governors.

Former Education Minister John O'Dowd ordered a review and a series of interim measures, and the authority said it would not be cutting hours until at least September 2017.

Ms O'Connor said lessons would be learned. "I would not defend the level of engagement," she said. "But we are in a difficult set of circumstances. We are trying to build as we go and we will certainly learn from this on how we engage with parents and the population in general."

There was also an apology from the EA interim chief executive after incorrect information was given to the committee in March which stated no school principals had made contact to express concern about the cuts between October 2015 and the hearing date.

Gavin Boyd said: "That submission was incorrect. I had received that report in reference to the concerns of parents, governors and school principals. For that I have unreservedly apologised to the committee."

Belfast Telegraph

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