Trevor Lunn MLA said: “It is deeply alarming that so many staff are working in an acting capacity across our education boards.
“These figures are shocking and one has to ask whether they indicate uncertainty in our education system given the delay in the creation of the Education and Skills Authority.
“These statistics show that our education sector has been left in limbo because of the failure of some politicians to agree on ESA and the impact this instability is having on staff in Education and Library Boards is unacceptable. Progress is essential on ESA and all politicians must build consensus quickly so this body can be created as soon as possible.
“ESA presents Northern Ireland with an opportunity to make our education system more efficient and will help save public money. Politicians should not let this excellent opportunity be lost and should reach agreement as soon as possible.”
See below for questions and answers:
Vacancy Control in Education and Library Boards
Dr S Farry asked the Minister of Education to outline her approach to vacancy control in Education and Library Boards.
Minister of Education: A Vacancy Control Policy is in place across all education sector employers to ensure that all reasonable steps are taken to safeguard and secure the employment of existing staff within the Education Sector identified as being “at risk” as a result of the Review of Public Administration.
The Vacancy Control Policy, first introduced in October 2006, was developed and agreed by the Department of Education, employers and trade unions, following the Executive’s agreement of the Public Service Commission second Guiding Principle and associated recommendations on Managing Vacancies Effectively. A key focus of the policy is the need to keep open all possible means to redeploy staff, to avoid creating new posts and to manage vacancies effectively, in order to reduce the potential for redundancies.
The failure to reach agreement on a date to establish the Education and Skills Authority has led to the operation of the Vacancy Control Policy across the organisations for longer than originally planned. As a result of this failure to agree a date for ESA, transitional arrangements and a Convergence Plan have been put in place. The implementation of convergence activity will have implications for organisations in terms of existing structures and staffing levels and it continues to be of the utmost importance that the employment of existing staff is safeguarded.
A number of concerns have been raised by stakeholders regarding the impact of prolonged vacancy control measures and a review of the current Vacancy Control Policy is underway. Education sector organisations and trade unions have been consulted on a number of options aimed at ensuring the policy continues to meet its objectives. Responses have now been received in relation to those options and these are under consideration by my Department to ensure the outcome of the review provides a balance in terms of supporting organisations to continue to provide quality services and at the same time delivers planned efficiency savings through the reorganisation and rationalisation of administrative support services.
Education and Library Board Staff
Dr S Farry asked the Minister of Education (i) how many staff; and (ii) what percentage of posts in each Education and Library Board are currently designated as ‘acting’.
Minister of Education: I have been advised by the Chief Executives of the Education and Library Boards of the following numbers of staff currently designated as ‘acting’ and the percentage of posts currently designated as ‘acting’.
Board Staff Staff %
Area Employed ‘acting’
BELB 445 83 18.6
NEELB 405 96 23.7
SELB 774 130 16.8
SEELB 463 123 26.5
WELB 735 113 15.37