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O’Dowd responds to comments by the Ulster Farmers’ Union

Education Minister, John O’Dowd, has responded to comments by the Ulster Farmers’ Union on the publication by Education and Library Boards of draft primary area plans.
Thursday, 21 March 2013

The Minister said: “The area planning process that is currently under way will realign our local schools estate to best suit the needs of local children. This is an essential exercise that takes account of many complex factors – it is definitely not a numbers game based solely on enrolments.

“The Education and Library Boards’ proposals on the future of primary provision are designed to adhere to the official Sustainable Schools policy – an approach to school provision that is fully ‘rural-proofed’, having been checked against the Rural Development Council’s rural proofing checklist set out in its report, Striking the Balance, with no adverse impact identified. Indeed, the policy sets out a lower target enrolment for rural primary schools than for schools in urban areas, in recognition of the different nature of the communities they serve.

“The draft primary area plans are open for public consultation until the end of June and I am keen for everyone with an interest, including those in rural areas, to make their views known. Visit the Putting Pupils First website to submit your views, or contact the relevant Education and Library Board if you do not have access to the web.”

Concluding, the Minister said: “I firmly believe that all children, including those who live in rural areas, deserve to have access to high quality educational opportunities.

“I can assure everyone that no decisions have yet been made on any school and that none will be made before everyone has had a chance to put their opinions across. Only at that point, and taking account of all pertinent information, will I decide on the best way forward in the interests of all children.”

Notes to editors:

  1. The Department of Education has launched a new ‘Education Works’ advertising campaign. The campaign encourages families to play, talk, read and count with their child and to ‘Get Involved Because Education Works’. Watch out for the ads on television, radio and outdoor locations. The campaign highlights the vital role families can play in helping children do well at school and improve their life chances. Visit nidirect website for more information or watch the TV ad on the Department’s YouTube channel.
  2. View photos from the Department of Education in our Flickr collection.
  3. Media enquiries to the Department of Education’s Communications Team on Tel: 028 9127 9207. Out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699715440 and your call will be returned.