Parents feel abandoned by Education Minister, says Armstrong

Education Transport Kellie Armstrong

Parents across Northern Ireland feel abandoned by the Education Minister, who has still out outlined contingency plans ahead of a planned strike by bus drivers next week, Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has said.

Translink drivers from the Unite and GMB unions are set to walk out next week in a dispute over pay, with all Translink bus services expected to be shut down as a result. Many school pupils are due to sit GCSE, AS and A-Level exams during the period.

“Alliance believes in the right of workers to strike, however there are consequences which need to be thought about,” said Ms Armstrong.

“Over a month ago, I called on Education Minister Michelle McIlveen to look ahead to this proposed strike and outline to parents her contingency plan for those pupils affected. To date, there has been nothing. Parents feel abandoned by this approach.

“The Minister needs to confirm immediately what she is going to do to help parents and pupils, particularly those scheduled to sit important exams next week. It is not acceptable for her to simply remain silent any more.

“It is unfair to expect students to be ready to sit exams if they are unable to access face to face learning. In addition, many pupils with special educational needs have transport included as part of their statement of special needs. To not provide it would be a direct failure on the part of the Department and Education Authority.

“It is unbelievable schools are having to inform parents and bear the brunt of frustrations, while the Minister stays quiet.”