Primary Area Plans
On 19 March 2013 the Education and Library Boards released their draft primary area plans for consultation, with an extended consultation period open until the end of June 2013. The Boards will manage a public consultation exercise which will offer parents, school staff, unions and the wider public an opportunity to help reshape our schools for the future.
For further information on what you need to do, please visit Primary Area Plans - FAQs.
Publication of Post-Primary Plans February 2013
On 26 February 2013 John O'Dowd, MLA, Minister for Education, issued a statement to the NI Assembly outlining the work undertaken to date on Area Planning and how he intends to move the planning process forward during the transition to the establishment of the Education and Skills Authority (ESA).
Following on from this, the five Education and Library Boards have published the consultation responses to the draft plans they published in July 2012, and revised draft plans which take account of those responses.
They are available on the Boards' websites and can be accessed using the links below.
Minister's Statement to the Assembly - 26th February 2013
In a statement to the Assembly on 26 February, the Minister set out the way ahead for planning of education provision here.
He said that progress had been made on the area planning for post-primary schoools and that it was necessary to maintain momentum and build on the work done to date in the run-up to the establishment of ESA.
He announced a series of actions to move the post-primary planning process forward:
- The Education and Library Boards would immediately publish both the consultation responses to their draft post-primary plans published in July 2012 and the latest draft plans, which take account of those responses.
- A steering group would be set up to co-ordinate and oversee the continuing development of the area plans. Membership would include the controlled, maintained, integrated and Irish-medium sectors. The group would be chaired by the Department.
- Statistical information relating to sustainability would be published annually for every school. The date would include pupil numbers, educational attainment and budgets.
- Some areas would require further planning work. These included the greater Belfast "travel to school" area covered by the Belfast, South Eastern and North Eastern Boards.
The Minister also announced that the draft area plans for primary schools would be published on 19 March with an extended consultation period to the end of June. His intention was that dialogue at local level, taking account of the lessons learned in the post-primary process, would result in more practical and sustainable solutions, including the potential, where appropriate, of increased sharing of accommodation and resources.
Finally, the Minister announced that further work would be done to develop a regional plan for dedicated Special School provision.
See links below to access the full Minister's statement.
Minister's Statement to the Assembly - 26th September 2011
In his statement to the Assembly, on 26 September 2011, the Minister, John O’Dowd MLA, highlighted the need to move forward with the implementation of the Sustainable School Policy and the process of strategic planning on an area basis.
The Minister has made it clear that, against the backdrop of an extremely challenging financial landscape in the coming years, progress on reshaping the structure and pattern of education provision can not be delayed. This work is at the core of the raising standards agenda which can only be delivered efficiently and effectively through a network of sustainable schools. Until such times as the ESA is established the Minister has indicated that an area planning process be commenced.
The Area Planning process will result in an effectively planned, sustainable and affordable pattern of schools. This will ensure that we have the right type and size of schools, in the right places, to meet the needs of our pupils and young people.
As a precursor to, and to inform the wider area approach to, planning the Education and Library Boards and CCMS, working in close conjunction with other sectors are tasked with undertaking a viability audit of all schools to identify those schools which are evidencing stress now in relation to sustainable enrolment levels, delivery of quality education and financial viability.
The viability audit will identify those schools where action will need to be taken in the short term to protect the education of pupils. It will also support the development of a detailed area profile based on current and relevant educational information which will be an essential part of the area planning process.
Additional information on the Terms of Reference for the Viability Audit and Area Planning is available by clicking on the links below. Also below is the Minister's full speech to the Assembly on 26 September 2011.