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Northern Ireland: Fear over new board's red tape

The Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) has expressed concern that the new Education and Skills Authority (ESA), which will replace Northern Ireland's five education and library boards, will be as bureaucratic as its predecessor organisations.

INTO has also claimed that too many members of ESA, which will begin work on January 1 2010, will have political rather than educational expertise.

The new body will take over responsibility from the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment and the youth council, and frontline services now undertaken by the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools, the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education and the Irish-medium education body Comhairle na Gaelscolaiochta.

Caitriona Ruane, education minister, said most board members will be political councillors, while the remaining places are open to applications from the public.

Brendan Harron, a senior INTO official, said: "We are concerned about the absence of people with a genuine background in education in the running of ESA. Even more worrying is the powers that political parties are to be given on the board of ESA."

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