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 11:45 am on 28th July 2020.

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Photo of Peter Weir Peter Weir DUP 11:45 am, 28th July 2020

What has been said is that I believe that we are on a trajectory to do that. I responded that my hope would be that there could be proposals put to the Executive that would enable that to happen. That would still be my aim with regard to that. In response to, I think, Mr McNulty's question, I indicated that this will be about some of the conditions that will apply. Also, where there is a cross-cutting issue, as there will be on the issue of school transport, I will speak to ministerial colleagues and will bring forward, potentially, proposals with regard to all of those aspects. That will be done in a manner that will be able to be actioned before the start of the new term. That is certainly my aim.

One of the levels of hesitancy that was there for all of us was in not knowing close to the term what the prevailing conditions would be, for instance, with regard to community transmission. I think that we have seen, because of the measures that have been taken across all Departments, that Northern Ireland, while we can never be complacent, is in a very good place. We have now gone quite a number of days without deaths from COVID-19. That enables us to move forward, but, in doing so, I will speak to the Executive as a whole and get their approval but will also speak to individual Ministers and seek that direct medical advice to enable that to happen. The full-time return of education has to be the aim for all of us, because that is in the best interests of everyone.