About the Department of Education


The Department of Education NI (DE) is headed by the Minister of Education, John O'Dowd, whose principal advisor is the Permanent Secretary, Paul Sweeney.

Three Deputy Secretaries, Katrina Godfrey, Fiona Hepper and John Smith, and the Chief Inspector of the Education and Training Inspectorate support the Permanent Secretary. 

In addition to the Education and Training Inspectorate there are eight heads of division who each deal with a specific area of work with each Division organised into a number of Branches and Teams.

Departmental Board

The Departmental Board operates as a collegiate forum, under the leadership of the Permanent Secretary, to manage the running of the Department. It operates within a wider corporate governance framework.

Role and functions

The Department’s primary statutory duty is to promote the education of the people of the north of Ireland and to ensure the effective implementation of education policy. The Department’s main statutory areas of responsibility are 0-4 provision, primary, post-primary and special education and the youth service.

The Department is accountable through its Minister to the Assembly for the effective delivery of its statutory functions and for the effective use of the public funds for which it is responsible. It is supported in delivering its functions by a range of Arm's Length Bodies, each of which is accountable to the Department.

Our corporate goals

We have identified five corporate goals – two overarching goals and three enabling goals - that support the vision we have for education here and the wider vision for economic and community growth that is captured in the Programme for Government.

The two overarching goals are:

  • raising standards for all
  • closing the performance gap, increasing access and equity

The three enabling goals reflect the three priority areas through which we will work to achieve the overarching goals.  They are:

  • developing the education workforce
  • improving the learning environment
  • transforming the governance and management of education

Corporate Plan

For further information please see the DE Corporate Plan for 2012-15