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Board of Education (N.I.)

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TRC on proposed Stranmillis College Merger with QUB Terms

Board of Education (N.I.)

Added on 15/03/2011

TRANSFERORS WELCOME MINISTER’S STATEMENT
ON PROPOSED STRANMILLIS MERGER WITH QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY, BELFAST       

The Transferor Representatives' Council (TRC) has welcomed today’s announcement by the Minister of Employment and Learning, Danny Kennedy MLA, outlining the terms under which it is proposed to merge Stranmillis University College with Queen’s University, Belfast.

In a statement released shortly after Mr Kennedy’s announcement, the TRC, which represents the Presbyterian, Methodist and Church of Ireland interests in education, highlighted the many potential educational and other advantages to Stranmillis of the proposed merger.

'We believe that the proposed merger with Queen’s University has potential to bring many educational and other advantages to Stranmillis including economic sustainability, the enhancement and increased breadth of learning opportunities for students and the development of a strong research programme.'

The TRC also was encouraged that its concerns over the protection of the ethos of Stanmillis, the continuation of RE teacher training and an ongoing partnership with the churches through appropriate institutional involvement, have been addressed in the Minister’s statement.

'In a rapidly changing educational context, it is reassuring that the highly cherished ethos, values and traditions of Stranmillis will be safeguarded and sustained into the future.'

The Transferor Representatives' Council's statement in full:

TRANSFERORS WELCOME MINISTER’S STATEMENT ON PROPOSED STRANMILLIS MERGER WITH QUEEN’S – FULL STATEMENT

The Transferor Representatives’ Council (TRC) welcomes the statement by Minister of Employment and Learning Danny Kennedy MLA outlining the terms under which it is proposed to merge Stranmillis University College with Queen’s University, Belfast.

We believe that the proposed merger with Queen’s University has potential to bring many educational and other advantages to Stranmillis including economic sustainability, the enhancement and increased breadth of learning opportunities for students and the development of a strong research programme.

We are encouraged that the Minister’s statement has addressed three major concerns of the TRC that: the ethos of Stranmillis will be protected; the necessary training for teachers of RE will be continued; and there will be a creative partnership with the churches and other appropriate stakeholders through institutional involvement.

The TRC believes it is vital that all that is best of the traditions and ethos of Stranmillis is both respected and given expression after the merger and that students in the new arrangement are given an introduction to the distinctive history, ethos and values present in Controlled schools. The minister makes clear his intention that this will be the case, stating that such elements would “add value to the educational experience, enhance educational outcomes and contribute positively to a shared future for all in Northern Ireland.”

The TRC also firmly believes, that as teachers appointed to Controlled primary schools in particular are expected to deliver religious education, it is essential that such teachers are given the necessary training in appropriate methods to teach undenominational RE with a distinctively Christian and biblical basis. Therefore we welcome the assurance from Queen’s University contained in the Minister’s statement that “there will be no change to the teaching of the agreed RE curriculum should the proposed merger take place.” The Minister’s clear statement, that the legislation to enable such a merger will also require Queen’s University to continue, “to prepare a sufficient number of RE teachers to deliver the agreed curriculum in any school in Northern Ireland’, is also reassuring.

Finally the proposal to establish a ‘Strategic Stakeholders Forum’ that will “provide for relevant key stakeholders, including the Transferors and the wider Controlled sector, to have a direct advisory role,” is very welcome.  We believe that such a body will enable theTransferring Churches to continue their long standing interest in teacher education and further develop the TRC’s affinity with Stranmillis as the main provider of teachers for schools within the Controlled sector in which transferring churches are the major stakeholders at governance level.

The TRC note that what is being launched today is a public consultation on the Minister’s proposals. It is recognized that, following the consultation period, appropriate enabling legislation will come before the Northern Ireland Assembly. It will be important that the various assurances contained in the Minister’s proposals will be fully reflected in this legislation.

ENDS

Contacts:

Revd I Ellis (Secretary to TRC and the Board of Education Church of Ireland) 
Tel: 028 90231202

Revd T Gribben (Secretary of the Board of Education Presbyterian Church) 
Tel: 028 90417205

Revd T Jamieson (Secretary of the Board of Education Methodist Church) 
Tel: 028 90773073