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Ruane fails again when it comes to education

When we think about the mess Caitriona Ruane has made of the Department of Education, our minds inevitably turn to the debacle surrounding transfer.

However, I want to bring a failure to your attention that is of potentially greater damage than even the transfer crisis.

This issue is the failure of Caitriona Ruane to create an Education and Skills Authority (ESA). This much-hyped scheme was intended to merge the five education and library boards into one huge board. It was argued by the minister that this would save money and be more efficient.

However, failure to secure political agreement on this issue means that the ESA is not yet in existence; in classic Ruane style, the time-limit for the library boards has run out and we have no permanent measure in place to manage schools in Northern Ireland.

The best solution the minister can come up with is to grant temporary six-month extensions to the boards. The effect on schools is verging on disastrous. Schools cannot make decisions on more than a six-month basis.

No permanent appointments can be made and we have the bizarre situation where very senior members of staff, including principals and vice-principals, are technically only employed in an acting capacity. Although it doesn't receive the same attention as academic selection, this crisis is undoubtedly as damaging to the cause of supplying good education in Northern Ireland.

I call on the Minister for Education to openly engage with other political parties immediately to find an acceptable solution.


Chairman, Lagan Valley Young Unionists

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