He said that progress had been made on the area planning for post-primary schools and that it was necessary to maintain momentum and build on the work done in the run-up to the establishment of EA.
He announced a series of actions to move the post-primary planning process forward:
- The former Education and Library Boards would publish both the consultation responses to their draft post-primary plans published in July 2012 and the latest draft plans, which take account of those responses.
- A steering group would be set up to co-ordinate and oversee the continuing development of the area plans. Membership would include the controlled, maintained, integrated and Irish-medium sectors. The group would be chaired by the Department.
- Statistical information relating to sustainability would be published annually for every school. The date would include pupil numbers, educational attainment and budgets.
- Some areas would require further planning work. These included the greater Belfast "travel to school" area covered by the Belfast, South Eastern and North Eastern Boards.
The Minister also announced that the draft area plans for primary schools would be published on 19 March with an extended consultation period to the end of June. His intention was that dialogue at local level, taking account of the lessons learned in the post-primary process, would result in more practical and sustainable solutions, including the potential, where appropriate, of increased sharing of accommodation and resources.
Finally, the Minister announced that further work would be done to develop a regional plan for dedicated Special School provision.