About the Department of Education


Two Deputy Secretaries, Fiona Hepper and John Smith, and the Chief Inspector of the Education and Training Inspectorate support the Permanent Secretary. 

In addition to the Education and Training Inspectorate there are eight heads of division who each deal with a specific area of work with each Division organised into a number of Branches and Teams.

Departmental Board

The Departmental Board operates as a collegiate forum, under the leadership of the Permanent Secretary, to manage the running of the Department. It operates within a wider corporate governance framework.

Role and functions

The Department’s primary statutory duty is to promote the education of the people of Northern Ireland and to ensure the effective implementation of education policy. The Department’s main statutory areas of responsibility are 0-4 provision, primary, post-primary and special education and the youth service.

The Department is accountable through its Minister to the Assembly for the effective delivery of its statutory functions and for the effective use of the public funds for which it is responsible. It is supported in delivering its functions by a range of Arm's Length Bodies, each of which is accountable to the Department.

Our corporate goals

1.  Improving the wellbeing of children and young people – through ensuring that all of our children and young people grow up in a society that provides the support they need to achieve their potential.

2.  Raising standards for all – through high quality early years provision, excellent teaching and learning in the classroom and effective provision of youth and other children’s services, ensuring that all young people enjoy and do well in their learning and their achievements and attainment are appropriately recognised and celebrated, including through qualifications.

3.  Closing the performance gap, increasing access and equality – addressing the underachievement that can hold our children and young people back; ensuring that young people who face barriers or are at risk of social exclusion are supported to achieve to their full potential; and ensuring that our services are planned effectively on an area basis to provide children and young people with full access to high quality learning experiences, both in school and out of school.

4.  Developing the education workforce – recognising the particular professional role of early years’ providers, teachers and school leaders in delivering an effective, age-appropriate curriculum and raising standards and also the important role of other education professionals and those who support them.

5.  Improving the learning environment – making sure that strategic investment supports the delivery of the area plans; that the premises in which young people grow and learn are safe, fit for purpose and conducive to learning; and that the environment provides opportunities for sharing and for building a more cohesive society.

6.  Delivering high quality education services – ensuring that the arrangements for governing and managing education are modern, accountable and child-centred and that education services are delivered efficiently and effectively in support of schools.

Corporate Plan

DE does not currently have a Corporate Plan in place. However, the DE Business Plan is available at corporate and business planning.

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