Appointment of an Expert Panel to Examine Links between Persistent Educational Underachievement and Socio-economic Background

Part of Ministerial Statements – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 11:00 am on 28th July 2020.

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Photo of Peter Weir Peter Weir DUP 11:00 am, 28th July 2020

That question perhaps veers a little beyond the subject matter. All children will be supported, and the curriculum will be the same for all of them. The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) will look to see whether adjustments to the curriculum are required. In any class in any school, whether or not individuals are doing the transfer test or are in P7, they will all receive that support. The principal intervention is through the Department of Education, which is being supported by the Executive, with the Engage programme. There will be flexibility in that to provide such support, which will be applied to primary and post-primary schools, so that they can work out where, they feel, it can be best used, whether for materials, finance or additional human resource, because I think that additional teachers will be required. That support will be available across the age spectrum and will apply throughout all communities. It will enable schools to have the flexibility to apply those resources where they see the biggest problems.

Remote learning and the level of disruption mean that it has not been as good as it would have been, had schools simply been able to carry on. None of us can say with absolute certainty what the impact has been on pupils; we will establish that only when we see a fuller return to schools in the autumn. However, it is important that that rovision and support be given to all pupils. It is targeted through the Engage programme, and that support will be there for all schools.