Gardiner accuses O’Dowd of evasion

ULSTER Unionist MLA Sam Gardiner has accused Education Minister John O’Dowd of evading his question on recent classroom experience of Schools Inspectors.

This matters because Inspectors Reports will be the basis for closing schools and sacking teachers said Mr Gardiner.

The public, Mr Gardiner added, need to know how much recent teaching experience members of HM Inspectorate of Schools have.

“I asked the Education Minister to detail the recent teaching experience of members of the Education and Training Inspectorate of Schools and the average teaching experience and range of experience of members of the Education and Training Inspectorate of Schools. This was a perfectly reasonable question as HM Inspectorate are public servants paid out of the public purse and that they will be in a position to deliver judgments on many schools in the next few years which could well lead to school closures and to teachers losing their jobs. My question asked for average teaching experience so that it did not point the finger at individual schools inspectors.

“Despite this, I received what could only be described as an evasive answer to my question from the Minister. He told me that the recent teaching experience of the Education and Training Inspectorate is individual and personal to each inspector and therefore it would not be appropriate to disclose it. He also told me that all inspectors have academic and professional qualifications at least to degree level or the equivalent and are also required to have a qualification which enables them to teach in schools and further education colleges. He added that at least 10 years teaching experience was a requirement for all Inspectors.”

“In his reply, the Minister avoided the key question I asked – how recent was the teaching experience of the Inspectorate. Some have been in post for years, even decades. I want to know when they were last in the classroom.

“This matters because Inspectors Reports will be the basis for closing schools and sacking teachers. That is no small matter.”