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Coordinates: 54°38′24″N 5°40′34″W / 54.640°N 5.676°W / 54.640; -5.676

Northern Ireland

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The Department of Education (DE) (Irish: An Roinn Oideachais, Ulster Scots: Männystrie o Lear) is a devolved Northern Ireland government department in the Northern Ireland Executive. The minister with overall responsibility for the department is the Minister for Education. The incumbent Minister is Caitríona Ruane (Sinn Féin).[1]



"The Department of Education is responsible for the central administration of all aspects of education and related services in Northern Ireland - excepting the higher and further education sector, responsibility for which is within the remit of the Department for Employment and Learning." [2]

DE is responsible for policy and some central administration, while much administration is devolved to five regional Education and Library Boards, funded by DE:


The Departments main areas of responsibility are in pre-school, primary, post-primary and special education; the youth service; the promotion of community relations within and between schools; and teacher education and salaries. Its primary statutory duty is to promote the education of the people of Northern Ireland and to ensure the effective implementation of education policy. Its key functions include:

  • advising ministers on the determination of education policy
  • framing legislation
  • accounting for the effectiveness of the education system
  • allocating, monitoring and accounting for resources
  • through the Education and Training Inspectorate, evaluating and reporting on the quality of teaching and learning and teacher education

The Department also aims to ensure that children, through participation at schools, reach the highest possible standards of educational achievement. In pre-school settings, schools and through the Youth Service the Department also promotes personal well-being and social development, so that children gain the knowledge, skills and experience to reach their full potential as valued individuals.


Following a referendum on the Belfast Agreement on 23 May 1998 and the granting of Royal Assent to the Northern Ireland Act 1998 on November 19, 1998; a Northern Ireland Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive were established by the Labour government of Prime Minister Tony Blair. The process was known as devolution and was set up to give Northern Ireland devolved legislative powers. DE is one of 11 devolved Northern Ireland Departments created in December 1999 by the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and The Departments (Northern Ireland) Order 1999.

Between 12 February 2000 [3] and 30 May 2000[4], and 15 October 2002[5] and 8 May 2007[6], however, devolution was suspended, and the Department became under the responsibility of Direct Rule ministers of the Northern Ireland Office. There were also two "technical" 24-hour periods of suspension on 11 August 2001 and 22 September 2001.[7][8][9][10][11]

Ministers of Education

Minister Party Took office Left office
    Martin McGuinness Sinn Féin 2 December 1999 11 February 2000
Office suspended
    Martin McGuinness Sinn Féin 30 May 2000 14 October 2002[12]
Office suspended
    Caitríona Ruane Sinn Féin 8 May 2007

Direct rule ministers

During the periods of suspension, the following ministers of the Northern Ireland Office were responsible for the department:

See also


  1. ^ Northern Ireland Executive
  2. ^ DE
  3. ^ Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Commencement) Order 2000
  4. ^ Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Restoration of Devolved Government) Order 2000
  5. ^ Article 1, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Suspension of Devolved Government) Order 2002
  6. ^
  7. ^ Entries under 10 August and 21 September 2001,
  8. ^ Article 1, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Suspension of Devolved Government) Order 2001
  9. ^ Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Restoration of Devolved Government) Order 2001
  10. ^ Article 1, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Suspension of Devolved Government) (No.2) Order 2001
  11. ^ Article 2, Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Restoration of Devolved Government) (No.2) Order 2001
  12. ^ Office suspended for 24 hours on 11 August 2001 and 22 September 2001

External links


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