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 11:15 am on 28th July 2020.

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Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP 11:15 am, 28th July 2020

I, too, welcome the Minister's statement and the appointment of the expert panel, because the importance of education in creating opportunities has to be recognised. Minister, in answer to a question that I asked in February, you highlighted absenteeism as a major contributory factor to education issues, in particular, in Ballyloran ward, where 43% of post-primary school pupils had less than 85% attendance. In Antiville, that figure was 25%, and, in Craigy Hill, it was 27%. Can you assure me that the panel will have full access to all your departmental officials and the support and cooperation of other relevant Departments so that we can get to the bottom of the wide range of issues that contribute to educational under-attainment — weak community infrastructure and the need for long-term community support; limited numbers of educational welfare officers and their limited powers; and limited early years provision — and thereby address educational underachievement in communities?