Bishop Ken Good warns NI education 'beyond crisis'
Education in Northern Ireland is "beyond crisis," a Church of Ireland bishop has said.
The Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, the Right Reverend Ken Good, made his comments in a speech on Saturday at the Church's general synod.
"Little is happening to prevent the fabric of our education system from unravelling," he said.
Bishop Good was also critical of a lack of political leadership in Stormont, describing it as the "dead hand",
His speech came only days after more than 500 school principals warned that pupils were suffering due to the ongoing political stalemate.
He told the synod that a number of dangers were threatening to "undermine and even destabilise the whole school system".
These included a lack of vision, lack of money and declining morale among both staff and school governors.
He said that schools were facing a number of serious problems including more children with mental health issues and an increasing number of pupils who needed support for special educational needs.
Bishop Good said that only significant transformation could begin to address those problems.
"The lack of political leadership in Stormont is the dead hand," he said.
"It means there's no-one in charge who can take decisions about this transformation vision.
"The education system in Northern Ireland is in financial crisis too.
"The squeeze is becoming more and more serious and the consequences are becoming more and more hazardous."
Bishop Good said there were still a number of positive things in education, including the number of school governors from the Church of Ireland and the number of schools taking part in shared education.
He also said that the main Protestant churches and Roman Catholic trustees were still working towards creating some jointly-managed church schools.
However, he warned that the problems in education meant that a generation of pupils were being failed.
"The long-term picture is not healthy and we need to see action now to build a better future for our children and young people," he said.