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Mr Mervyn Storey
Chairperson, Committee for Education

Ms Caitríona Ruane
Minister of Education
Department of Education
Rathgael House
Balloo Road
County Down
BT19 7PR

Ref: 008/08/C/23

4 July 2008

Dear Minister,

As you will be aware, the Committee for Education has been discussing your updated proposals (15 May 2008) for transfer to post-primary schools over the last few weeks.

The Committee sought the views of some key education stakeholders on your proposals and received 18 responses. The Committee also asked for papers from each of the five Political Parties represented on the Committee. These five papers and the 18 responses, which formed the main focus of the Committee’s deliberations, are attached for your consideration.

The Committee not only considered your updated proposals, but other options for transfer to post-primary schools – bearing in mind the current political impasse on the issue of selection. This was an honest attempt by the Committee to help move the process forward.

I attach immediately below a note of the key points of the Committee’s discussion on 20 and 27 June 2008, which gives some further views of the individual Party representatives on the Committee, and some comments offered by other Party representatives. It is difficult to draw out concrete areas of consensus, but I would highlight two interesting points from the discussion, as follows:

a. Some of the Parties have a growing concern that a period of reflection is necessary before any permanent arrangements are put in place; and

b. The development of academic streams, which could be academic schools within clusters of schools.

The Committee would request you consider these papers very carefully and to come back to the Committee as soon as possible in writing, with the view to a closed session discussion with the Committee early after Summer Recess. I am of course available, as Chairperson of the Committee, to meet with you earlier.

The Committee plans to publish this response and attachments on its page of the Assembly’s website on or after Wednesday next.

Yours sincerely

Mr Mervyn Storey MLA
Chairperson, Committee for Education