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Confidence in Minister's approach to school restart critically low, says Lyttle

Confidence in the Education Minister’s approach to school restart is critically low, Alliance Education spokesperson Chris Lyttle MLA has said.

Mr Lyttle, Chair of the Assembly’s Education Committee, was speaking after Peter Weir gave a statement to the Assembly following the threat of a recall petition by Mr Lyttle. The Minister outlined plan for remote learning for pupils in years 8-10 from January 25, with primary schools, special schools and pupils in years 11-14 remaining in school.

The East Belfast MLA said the Minister had done little to restore confidence in his approach to the issue of school restart.

“The priority for all of us should be safe, school-based learning for all our children and young people. But given the circumstances and with the health advice to limit the opening of schools, the rational approach appears to be a brief period of phased school restart with priority for key exam years, those with special educational needs, vulnerable children and children of keyworkers, with blended learning from January 4.

“I fail to see the rationale for the Education Minister’s decision to introduce blended learning on January 25 for some pupils, given lockdown is scheduled for review shortly thereafter.

“The Minister has faced criticism for his decisions throughout this pandemic and confidence in his approach to the issue of school restart is critically low. His statement today has done little to restore that confidence.”