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Explanatory Memorandum to Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 2003

Consultation

5.The provisions in the Order provide the Department with an enabling power to allow it to require ELBs to adopt the single common formula (Para 3 above). The Order does not prescribe the formula itself and the principle of a single common formula had already been agreed.

6.The detailed proposals for the construction of the common formula were the subject of a detailed consultation process and the comments received will help inform the ongoing discussion on the development of the formula.  The formula will be fully discussed with education partner bodies before implementation as will any proposed changes post operation.

7.In the case of the Best Value provisions in paragraph 4(a), the Department has had regard to the detailed consideration given to this issue in the context of the Department of the Environment (DOE) Local Government (Best Value) Act 2002 which was itself the subject of extensive consultation.  The provisions proposed adopt a similar approach in providing a statutory underpinning for the work in progress by the ELBs on Best Value but without prescribing detailed procedural arrangements.  In this respect the ELBs established a Best Value Project Board in 1999 on which the Department and Trade Union side are represented.  The objective of the Board was the development of a Best Value regime on a voluntary basis pending the introduction of a legislative base.  Within this forum there has been extensive discussion and consultation on the application of Best Value to ELB services.  The Department will continue to consult extensively with the ELBs on the practical outworking of the Best Value principles with the aim of ensuring that key services are subjected to a value for money scrutiny, whilst avoiding the imposition of an unnecessary bureaucratic process.

8.As for consultations in relation to the other provisions contained in the Order:

  • The provisions in paragraph 4(b) are designed to improve the operation of a number of aspects of the education system for the benefit of pupils, parents and schools. No consultation was considered necessary in respect of:-

    • the provisions relating to the operation of tribunals and appeals (which will either regularise or extend privacy arrangements for their conduct);

    • the provision relating to a single pre-school admissions form;

    • the widening of appointments to ELB Teaching Appointment Committees; and

    • the clarification of law relating to consultations on development proposals.

  • As for the provisions relating to consultations with schools on (future) regulations about performance targets and information concerning pupil performance, this is designed to reduce the bureaucratic burden on schools, while the provision to extend the range of information to be supplied by schools is required to enable schools to comply with the legislation specified. Again no consultations were considered necessary on these aspects. The provision relating to the removal of school Boards of Governors will create a regulation making power and consultations will be undertaken on the regulations.

  • In relation to the provisions in paragraph 4(c), these will remove unnecessary control by the Department and reduce the bureaucratic burden on ELBs, and are welcomed by the ELBs.

  • The provisions in paragraph 4(d) have a positive impact on children’s rights. The provisions formally introducing the duty of care were the subject of full consultations with education authorities in the context of Governors’ duties and responsibilities. The requirement for child protection policies was a commitment given by the Department, as a result of the Bangor Grammar School enquiry. The anti-bullying policy was also the subject of consultations with schools.

  • In relation to the provision at paragraph 4(e), this is being brought forward in response to a request from the ELBs and no wider consultations were considered necessary.

  • The provisions in paragraph 4(f) are of a purely technical nature and no consultations were considered necessary.

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