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School Readiness

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:15 pm on 22nd November 2016.

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Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP 2:15 pm, 22nd November 2016

4. Mr Poots asked the Minister of Education for his assessment of school readiness of children starting primary school. (AQO 718/16-21)

Photo of Peter Weir Peter Weir DUP

A range of research and evidence highlights the importance of early years to the cognitive, emotional and physical growth of children. It is vital that children starting school have been and continue to be prepared, supported and encouraged to learn to take full advantage. There is no universal indicator of overall early childhood development. Work on that has been ongoing with the Department of Health through work stream 1 of the early intervention transformation programme, which is a Northern Ireland Executive and Atlantic Philanthropies programme. As part of that work stream, a named health visitor is now aligned with every preschool education setting.

I suspect that the Member may have difficulty getting to ask a supplementary question. There are good initiatives on the ground. The Member was in Lisburn with me on Friday at a launch of an initiative for the Lisburn area on early intervention that looks particularly at communication skills. It is building on Talk Boost. I think that the scheme goes across four areas.

So, good actions are being taken. The importance of early years is critical.

Photo of Danny Kennedy Danny Kennedy Deputy Speaker 2:30 pm, 22nd November 2016

Unfortunately, the time for listed questions is over, although the Minister's power to predict what the supplementary might have been was remarkable.

[Laughter.]

Photo of Peter Weir Peter Weir DUP

I will get you the lottery numbers for Saturday, Danny, and then you can retire.

Photo of Danny Kennedy Danny Kennedy Deputy Speaker

More septic Meg than Mystic Meg, I think. We move on to topical questions.