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Bill to extend life of Board of Education 24 April 2007

THE Department of Education is promoting a Bill which would extend the life of the Board of Education.

It is planned to replace the Board with an Education Advisory Council, provided the branches of Tynwald give their backing to new legislation.

However, that legislation cannot be progressed in time to become law before the Board of Education election, due in December 2007. The Department therefore hopes, via the Education (Amendment) Bill, to extend the life of the 15-member Board for up to 18 months after November 30, which is when members’ five-year terms of office expire.

The measure would give the Department time to consult fully with interested parties over the plan to create the Education Advisory Council.

The Education Advisory Council would continue to act as a valuable advisory body to the Minister and Members of the Department but its members would apply for seats and be selected rather than be publicly elected as at present.

Although a geographic balance would be maintained, members would not represent one of the 15 House of Keys constituencies, as they do at present.

The Board of Education’s present members have agreed unanimously that it is appropriate in this day and age for the method of selection to be changed from the current one of an election held every five years under the Representation of the People Act. They felt the cost of elections, both to candidates and to the Department, was disproportionate.

It was following a presentation by Board members to the Department that it was agreed to progress the establishment of an Education Advisory Council.

Education Minister Anne Craine MHK explained:

‘A period of time is required to decide on the format and the remit of the Education Advisory Council and the Department will need to consult with interested parties, such as existing Board members, head teachers and school governors. This consultation period, together with the period required for the progression of the legislation to enable the establishment of the Advisory Council, will take time, although we anticipate that the Bill will be ready to be presented in the 2007/2008 legislative session. If the Department was not to go ahead with the Education (Amendment) Bill, it would mean it would have to go through the process of arranging the election in the first week of December 2007, with its associated costs.’

The Bill has Council of Ministers’ approval for its introduction to the House of Keys.

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