DUP: Businesses could help govern schools

Business employers could help govern schools in Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionists have said.

Extra support could also be put in place for the health and well-being of staff and pupils, education spokesman Peter Weir suggested.

On Monday the DUP launched a policy consultation paper aimed at creating a more supportive and sensible environment for schools to help ease pressures.

Mr Weir said: “We advocate greater support, including mentoring and clearer pathways for career professional development for the range of leadership within schools, more focus on how we can involve business employers in governorship and how we embed more support for health and well-being for both staff and pupils.

“There is no single measure which will help resolve some of the problems facing schools, but we believe the cocktail of proposals that we offer can significantly improve school life and with it enhance educational opportunities.”

The paper was entitled Reducing the Burden.

School heads have repeatedly raised under-resourcing, with parents being asked for contributions to the cost of the most basic supplies.

Mr Weir added: “This policy paper covers a range of issues from actions to reduce bureaucracy, recast school inspection, and supporting leadership, professional development and governance, and makes 22 recommendations in total.

“Central to our proposals is a shift in culture and attitude within the delivery of our education system placing greater trust on the professionalism and autonomy of practitioners within schools, in particular teachers and school leaders.

“We have a range of suggestions to reduce administrative pressures on schools including removing the need for duplicate requests for data, information sharing between educational bodies, better communication and transfer of pupil data.

“Critical within our policy paper is a fundamental shift in the role of school inspection to the development of a more collaborative model.”

He called for a redesign of the inspection body, greater emphasis on self-inspection and assessment of value added improvements plus a shift towards wider measurement of quality of education, in line with the direction of travel elsewhere.