Ulster Unionist MLA, Mike Nesbitt has expressed surprise that the Minister for Education has agreed to a cross-border review of the sustainability of rural primary schools in the border region. The member of the Stormont Committee that scrutinises the work of the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, was reacting to a statement from the Deputy First Minister on the latest meeting of the North South Ministerial Council.
The Strangford MLA said: "I have no issue with doing everything we can to sustain our rural schools network, and was addressing that very point in a speech to the Assembly yesterday, but there can be no doubt this new process will compromise the integrity and authority of the Viability Audit already being undertaken by the Department of Education into the viability of all schools in Northern Ireland. Over the last few weeks, it has been clear that this Viability Audit is the only how in town in terms of guaranteeing a sustainable future for schools, and now we have a second survey being introduced. Why? Why are two reviews better than one?
"I asked Martin McGuinness, but all he could say is that h is sure the Minister will bear in mind the findings of one review when assessing the other. What schools need is clarity, not the confusion of multiple processes."