By Sean-Paul Doran
ARMAGH parents are to be asked about their views on cross-border education, Education Minister John O’Dowd announced today.
A Department of Education survey could lead to pupils being allowed to choose between studying for GCSEs and A levels in Northern Ireland or Junior and Leaving Certificates in the Republic.
Announcing the plans in Stormont, Mr O’Dowd admitted that there could be some legislative issues standing in the way but pledged to ensure parents knew of all options available to them.
“The nature of the lives of families in the border area continue to evolve,” said the Minister.
“Many parents now live in one jurisdiction and work on the other, but their children can potentially face barriers to crossing the border in search of places in schools.
“Over the coming weeks a questionnaire will be issued to families in the border area. I would encourage parents to take the opportunity to respond so that we can gain a better understanding of their views, concerns, or perceptions about crossing the border to access education.”
Parents of children who attend a Primary school within six miles of the border or a Post-Primary school within the 12 mile radius will be asked for their opinions on the matter.
An equivalent survey is also to be conducted by the Department of Education and Skills in the Republic.
The questionnaire will start to issue in the North at the end of October, whilst questionnaires in the South will follow in November.
“We do have cross-border travel in terms of third level and higher level education,” said Mr O’Dowd.
“We have growing cross-border travel in terms of health care, now we are looking at education. How can we improve the service in terms of education for border communities?”