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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 November 2005, 14:03 GMT
Schools body could be downgraded
NI education graphic
A teachers' union said there was no threat to Catholic schools
The body which runs Catholic schools could be broken up as part of a sweeping review of administration in Northern Ireland, it has emerged.

The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) is the employer of 8,500 teachers and looks after 500 schools.

The Review of Public Administration has proposed that the body should be downgraded to an advisory role.

CCMS chief executive Donal Flanagan said to remove their input would diminish educational standards.

"What we are saying is that our ethos adds value to children's standards," he said.

"Teachers and ethos are inextricably linked and we want the right to be able to appoint teachers who are committed to the aims of a Catholic education.

"The government recognises, and nowadays almost everyone recognises, Catholic education adds value to the learning experiences of young children and improves their standards overall."

Widely anticipated changes to the way Northern Ireland is administered are set to be unveiled next Tuesday.

The review is the largest examination in more than 30 years of the organisation and delivery of public services in the province.

It was initiated by the devolved executive before the assembly was suspended in October 2002.

Role

Many Catholic schools representatives have written to the government in protest at the proposed downgrading of the CCMS.

The schools say they are concerned that it is a threat to the ethos of Catholic education.

Father John McManus who sits on the board of governors of four schools said they would like to see the role of the CCMS continued.

"There are many good things in the review of public administration, but it's just that we feel in the Catholic Church that at the present time the rights of the trustees are not catered for within the new system," he said.

However, Frank Bunting of the Irish National Teachers Organisation said there was no threat to the existence of Catholic schools.

"The vast majority of teachers and principals in Catholic schools in Northern Ireland would welcome the rationalisation of education administrative structures - the pooling together of the expertise of the five education and library boards and the CCMS into one entity," he said.


SEE ALSO:
Parties 'must commit to services'
04 May 05 |  Northern Ireland
Body to review post-primary plan
24 Apr 03 |  Northern Ireland
Health bodies 'face shake-up'
05 May 04 |  Northern Ireland
Red tape spending 'clamp down'
13 Jan 04 |  Northern Ireland
NI administration report due
13 Oct 03 |  Northern Ireland


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