Page last updated at 19:31 GMT, Monday, 19 November 2012

Consultation on Cross Border Education

The UUP's Danny Kinahan called on MLAs to "come together to stop this gathering virus of changes" to the education system, on 19 November 2012.

Mr Kinahan was proposing his party's motion criticising a consultation on cross-border education, which he said was not representative or accurate.

Taking a wider view, he called on MLAs to come together to find a way forward on post-primary selection.

"To force the hand on grammar schools is not democratic," the South Antrim MLA added.

Sean Rogers of the SDLP said he was confused by the motion, and that cross-border education needed to be part of area-based planning.

Mr Rogers said cross-border education "could become a lifeline for small schools".

Michelle McIlveen of the DUP said she would like to see greater emphasis on educational inequalities, and on the needs of Protestant working-class boys in particular.

She expressed concern that the minister, John O'Dowd, might be planning to overturn the arrangement whereby pupils who lived in Nothern Ireland were given priority in Northern Ireland.

Chris Hazzard of Sinn Fein said he simply did not agree that the cross-border survey was anything to be concerned about.

He said he supported the amendment, but not the motion.

Trevor Lunn observed that Danny Kinahan reached to ninth minute of his ten-minute speech before mentioning the motion.

He echoed Sean Rogers opinion that an influx of pupils might be the saviour of schools alog the border.

The TUV's Jim Allister said the education of pupils from across the border was costing the Northern Ireland taxpayer substantial sums of money.

He estimated the total cost of southern students in Northern Ireland schools, regional colleges and universities at £13.5m

Education Minister John O'Dowd said the survey costs approximately £5200, and it showed the Education Department was listening to people,

He opposed Mr Kinahan's call to set up a committee to find a way forward on selection.

"I am the Minister of Education. I take the decisions," he said.

The motion was carried as amended.

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