Trevor Lunn MLA said: “The delay in implementation of the Education Skills Authority bill is sadly a good example of the deadlock at Executive level which affects so much of the proposed primary legislation currently in our legislative process.
“I have been a member of the Education committee for six years now and watched the last bill collapse mainly due to Unionist fears about the position of Grammar schools, selection tests, ‘command and control’ worries etc. When the new bill was produced last year the Minister had, to my mind done his best to draft a bill which removed those fears.
“The current speculation about the employment section and possible concessions to voluntary grammars and potentially other controlled schools, may, if it is confirmed, remove one of the blockages. I am open to having this discussion given that ESA allowed virtually full autonomy to voluntary grammars anyway.
“I do not say that there are no other areas of contention for instance around the position of Governors and the role of the schools Inspectorate but I believe that it is time the Executive allowed the bill to come before the house for discussion and amendment in the normal way.
“The bill has been with Executive since February and while we wait for news our Education system is creaking badly, despite the efforts of all staff to maintain the levels of education and achievement which our children deserve. We need ESA to progress the other major issues particularly early years, Special needs and Area planning.
“We need to move away from intransigence and fixed positions to move this Bill forward as a matter of urgency. I hope the Executive will treat it as an absolute priority when they return in September.”