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 11:30 am on 28th July 2020.

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Photo of Peter Weir Peter Weir DUP 11:30 am, 28th July 2020

This is about taking a wider strategic view rather than simply reacting to the issues of the day. It is important that a report has been done in the Education Authority on the systemic failures. Some of the implementation of the measures in that report was, in many ways, delayed by COVID, but it is being acted on. Indeed, the Member will know, because it has been said, that there will be an oversight committee in which the permanent secretary of the Department will work directly with the Education Authority.

While the operational responsibility for placements lies with the Education Authority, we have been working with it. From a starting position of roughly a month ago, when there were nearly 300 unplaced children, those numbers have been brought down to 50. That is 50 too many, but we continue to work on that, and I hope that those figures will be better and, indeed, will have further improved by the end of this week.