The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has just released its report on Education Funding in Northern Ireland. Among its conclusions, the report recommends a large scale transformation of the way education is organised, in terms of the number and type of schools within each neighbourhood (known as area-based planning).
Keeping parents engaged
Parentkind welcomes the recommendation that there is "constructive engagement with schools and communities when taking decisions on how education is delivered". After all, parents are the major stakeholder in a child’s education and are likely to be impacted by major changes to the school estate. Recognising the importance of consulting parents, paragraph 104 states:
"Ultimately these decisions are for the people of Northern Ireland to take, and no single approach will be right for every community. Consultation is therefore an essential part of this process, so that parents and communities are truly included in these decisions and their concerns respected."
Parentkind has taken a lead on this issue and has already reached out to parents in Northern Ireland to gauge their opinion on area-based planning for schools. To achieve this, we have worked with Lucid Talk to consult parents on their views on what the school estate in Northern Ireland should look like. The survey used a large sample size of parents in Northern Ireland for statistical significance.
The results of our research will be published in September, and we look forward to sharing our findings with the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. This will ensure that parent voice can be heard on area-based planning, meeting the report’s recommendations on engaging parent communities as part of the decision-making process ahead of any changes.