Parental choice in education should not be undermined: Dodds

Responding to the report from the UNESCO Education Centre at Ulster University DUP Education Spokesperson Diane Dodds MLA said:

By Diane Dodds MLA

Upper Bann

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“I look forward to having the opportunity to study this report in detail.

It is a fundamental tenet of our education provision locally that there is a role for parental preference in which school a child attends. To remove this entirely would represent a very marked shift in approach. Overhauling our existing provision would also incur considerable costs.

Across the water parents can send their children to a multitude of schools or academies including free schools, comprehensives and faith schools. In GB this level of diversity is considered a positive. Parents in Northern Ireland are entitled to a degree of choice too.

It is interesting that recent statistics have demonstrated that Northern Ireland doesn’t appear to have any more small schools than other parts of the UK.

I'm interested in where efficiencies can be made but I’ll want to interrogate these figures as some previous reports have proven to be grossly inaccurate with eye-catching figures not standing up to scrutiny, and being very much theoretical rather than based in any reality. I would also be keen to see the full list of organisations involved in funding this research.

At a time when the Secretary of State is under pressure for an inadequate education budget the last thing schools and our young people need is a report like this which risks letting him off the hook.

Like so many others, I want to see the scourge of sectarianism rooted out and a Northern Ireland at ease with itself into the future, but that should not be at the expense of some level of parental choice in children's education"

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