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NAHT (NI) responds to Derek Baker’s comments on the lack of an education minister in Northern Ireland

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Geri Cameron, President of school leaders’ union NAHT(NI), has welcomed the announcement from Derek Baker, Permanent Secretary for DENI, that he will be taking the review of the Education Authority forward.

The announcement from Mr Baker was made when giving evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on 13th March 2019. The Committee cited examples of problematic procurement processes and the need for audit and scrutiny of EA spending.

Mrs Cameron said: “This is a small step forward.  I stated the need for transparency and accountability during my oral evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee in January.  We need to know if the current procedures in the EA demonstrate value for money and we also need reassurance that funding is reaching the frontline in education.”

During the Committee session, Mr Baker recognised the low morale within schools and spoke of the fact that we are without an education Minister describing the situation as “constitutionally and philosophically wrong."  Mr Baker said that civil servants were “muddling through”.

Mr Baker also recognised the pressure on school leaders due to action short of strike that has been on-going for eight years. He stated it was one of the biggest risks on his ‘risk register’ adding that he is determined to resolve it.

Responding to the comments, Mrs Cameron said: “If ever there was a time when we need leadership in education, it is now.  School leaders are working under increasing pressure while budgets are shrinking.  Muddling through is not good enough for the children sitting in classrooms today and it is not good enough for our members.  That is why NAHT has no option but to consider industrial action. 

“At the Educational Crisis Session on 28th February, we announced that over 90 per cent of our members voted in favour of industrial action in the indicative ballot survey.  We would welcome a resolution from the Permanent Secretary that would benefit school leaders, teachers and children.”

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First published 18 March 2019