March 6 In the Press

Minister for Education Peter Weir speaking at Northern Conference of the INTO

Inspections regime set for an overhaul as Education Minister wants ‘radical change’

By ELEANOR McGILLIE

THE Minister for Education got a round of applause and a standing ovation at the Northern Conference of the Irish National Teachers’ Organsisation when he stated a “radical change” is needed in the way inspections are carried out.

Speaking in Newry at the 152nd Northern Conference, Peter Weir MLA, told delegates that the culture of inspections needs to change, and, with this, comes an increase in trust in the professionalism of teachers as “experts in their field”.

The hundreds of delegates sitting in front of the Minister greeted his acknowledgement for change with a rapturous round of applause and a standing ovation as the inspections regime is something the INTO has been campaigning to get changed for years.

Speaking to the delegates at the Canal Court Hotel, Minister Peter Weir MLA said: “I am pleased to note there has been good engagement between ETI and unions and particular with the recent joint working group with different representatives from the unions and ETI to help clarify the workload associated with inspections.

“There has been material produced to help clarify and reduce the documentation required for inspections including myth busting information and this is something I think will roll out.

“However, what I would say is, this can only be the start to the change of inspections. We must see a radical change in the direction of travel of inspections.

“I detailed this in a previous policy paper ‘Reducing the Burden’ and how I would like to see inspections reformed.

“At the heart of this change is a change in the culture of inspections based around three main principles. First of all, we need to see a higher trust in the professionalism of teachers and to allow teachers to deliver, and, accompanying with that, a light touch regime when it comes to what monitoring needs to happen.

“Secondly, we need to reach a point where there is no additional data to be produced, by schools, head of any inspection. We should trust teachers as experts in their fields and not just data providers. The best schools are schools which start from the point of self-evaluating.

“Thirdly, there must be a change in the approach and in relationships. We need to shift away from the current model to an educational improvement service based around collaboration, based around supporting schools, based around mutual respect and generating two way discussions. That’s the direction of travel we need to embrace.

“I will ensure we move forward on the basis of these commitments.”

Welcoming the Minister’s acknowledgement and commitment to make changes in the inspections regime, Northern Secretary, Gerry Murphy said: “At last our teachers have something to look forward to. The round of applause and standing ovation said it all. The burden they have had to put up with, by carrying out a regime which generates so much stress and pressure on top of their already pressured jobs, is unwarranted, unnecessary and unfair.

“The INTO applaud Minister Peter Weir MLA for coming to our Northern Conference and making those commitments face to face with our teachers. It appears those in power are starting to do, what should have been done a long time ago, and that’s listen to the teachers. We will of course be reminding him of these commitments and working with him to ensure their delivery.”

 

ENDS:

NOTES TO EDITOR:

  • INTO is the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation. It is the largest teachers’ union in Ireland. INTO has a Northern Office and a Southern Office. The Northern Office is based at Vere Foster House, 23 College Gardens, Belfast.
  • For interview requests or further information contact Eleanor McGillie of MGMPR Ltd on 07709805379
  • Copyright © Kevin Cooper Photoline

 

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