Northern Ireland news

Education Authority launches first strategic plan development

Sharon O'Connor, Education Authority chairwoman

THE single Education Authority is to develop its first ever strategic plan - almost 18 months after it launched.

Since its establishment in April last year, the EA has been working to bring together the structures of the five former education and library boards to create a single organisation.

It has a budget of approximately £1.5 billion and is the largest employer in the north, with more than 37,000 people, although most of these are teachers in the state-controlled sector.

The new body recently advertised for its first permanent chief executive to lead a "programme of transformation".

Now, it is now preparing to commence a consultation to shape its strategic direction over the next decade.

Launching the development phase of the Strategic Plan 2017-2027, chairwoman Sharon O'Connor promised that the EA would be "innovative and forward-looking".

However, she warned that difficult decisions lay ahead due to budget pressures.

"In establishing the Education Authority, our primary aim was to ensure the transition from the former ELBs was as smooth as possible and that vital services to schools and youth centres continued to be delivered unaffected," she said.

"Our focus now turns to transformation and the board is committed to building an organisation that has a truly regional focus and delivers excellent education services for all.

"Central to this is the development of a comprehensive strategic plan which can deliver positive outcomes for children and young people across Northern Ireland whilst also providing a framework for excellence in everything we do."

Ms O'Connor said the EA's work impacted upon the lives of thousands of young people and their families every day.

"Their views and the views of a range of key stakeholder groups will be central to developing this plan from the earliest stages," she added.

"Consultation will begin shortly and we are keen to have the widest possible input so I would encourage everyone with an interest in the education sector to take the opportunity to contribute their valuable views."

The difficult financial situation, she added, continued to present significant challenges for the EA as demand for services continued to grow at a time when budgets were reducing.

"We can no longer continue to provide all of the same services in the same ways. As a result, difficult decisions and choices will have to be made and our strategic plan must focus on transforming services in a way which delivers and underpins a strong, resilient and world-class education system in Northern Ireland," she said.

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