Controlled schools’ advocacy body giving confidence in uncertain time

It’s been a successful year for the Controlled Schools’ Support Council (CSSC), but the current financial shortfall in school budgets is adding unpreceded pressure to an already stretched controlled schools’ sector.


That was the message delegates heard at CSSC’s second AGM on Thursday 8 March 2018.

Addressing a packed room of principals, governors and key educational stakeholders, CSSC Chief Executive Barry Mulholland said, 

I am tremendously proud that 518, or 93%, of controlled schools have now taken out membership with CSSC.  

The team of staff, with their wide range of expertise, have engaged with and assisted controlled schools on a wide range of issues.  

A large proportion of our time has been spent advocating on behalf of schools on issues as diverse as special educational needs, ETI’s governor inspection self-evaluation framework, EA’s strategic plan and, of course, the dire financial situation schools find themselves in. 

On a more positive note, our ethos working group is exploring ethos and how it relates to school culture and expectations.  CSSC is also working, in partnership with EA, on fulfilling its role in nominating school governors. 

Area planning continues to form a sizeable part of our work, and I am pleased to report that CSSC continues to respond to all pre-publication and development proposals which have an impact on controlled schools. 

CSSC has also been able to put on a number of events for its members, including a conference that looked at raising standards in controlled schools and a workshop for women leaders in education. 

We will be hosting a conference on ethos development and four seminars to share best practice across the controlled sector.

Barry Mulholland continued, 

Of course, this work is tempered by the fact that schools continue to struggle with their budgets.  

School leaders in all types of controlled schools have told us that many have profound concerns about the serious financial challenges they are facing. 

Whilst it is widely recognised that a significant transformation programme is needed for public services such as education, the reality is that the legislative requirements and existing service delivery structures continue; in this environment sufficient funds are required to support schools, teaching and learning. 

Controlled schools are already working in difficult financial circumstances to provide the essential curriculum to enable over 140,600 children and young people to meet their potential. 

Education must continue to be valued and given the priority it deserves across all government departments; after all, our schools are educating the next generation.

The AGM also included a panel discussion with the Permanent Secretary, Derek Baker and Gavin Boyd, Chief Executive of the Education Authority, during which schools discussed the current challenges facing education. 

CSSC Vice Chairperson Andrew Brown chaired the AGM.  He added, 

It’s been my privilege to be involved with CSSC for the past year. 

The feedback I have received about the organisation has been incredibly positive.  Schools have highlighted how confident they feel having such a powerful advocate in CSSC, especially in light of these constrained and uncertain times for education.


8 March 2018