Youth Forum gives evidence on Education Bill
A delegation of youth forum members traveled to Stormont this month to give evidence to the education committee on the introduction of the education bill. Martin McAuley (Chairman), Rhíannon Kelly (Vice-chair), Declan Campbell and Chris Quinn (Director) made a presentation to MLAs about the need to consult, in a meaningfully way, with young people about decisions which would affect their education.
As part of the session, Martin called on MLAs to amend the bill to place a legal obligation on the department of education to consult with young people on area education plans which will set the agenda for education development in local communities. He also asked MLAs to create a space on the board of the Education and Skills Authority (ESA) for a young person, given that this new legislation erodes many of the structures already in place which allow young people to have a say.
The Youth Forum chairman called for a change to legislation to create a place on every school board of governors for a young person.
“Children and young people are the primary service users in our education system. Who is better placed to advise school governing bodies on how best to improve the quality of the educational experience than those who experience it first hand, everyday?”
“Young people have been treated as passive recipients in our education system for too long. The time has come to increase our investment in youth and allow them to become active participants, able to shape the system which will define their future.”
“Early indications are that we may have cross party support for these plans and we hope to see them advanced before the education bill passes into law”
Vice Chair, Rhíannon, stressed that facilities for all young people should be of an acceptable standard.
“I went to a primary school that held classes in porta-cabins and that didn’t have any hot water. For too long, that was deemed acceptable by the department of education. I want to see independent standards for the provision of educational and youth facilities, below which the department cannot fall”
The Youth Forum eagerly awaits the further stages of the bill and the opportunity to engage constructively with the minister and committee.