Schools: Well-being Initiatives

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:15 pm on 15th September 2020.

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Photo of Maolíosa McHugh Maolíosa McHugh Sinn Féin 2:15 pm, 15th September 2020

Go raibh maith agat, ceist uimhir a cúig anois.

Photo of Peter Weir Peter Weir DUP

I am making the assumption that that is question No 5.

Photo of Maolíosa McHugh Maolíosa McHugh Sinn Féin

5. Mr McHugh asked the Minister of Education for an update on the £5 million allocation to schools for well-being initiatives. (AQO 655/17-22)

Photo of Peter Weir Peter Weir DUP

I am not 100% clear. Unfortunately, perhaps, the £5 million figure has actually been used in two different contexts. I presume that the Member is talking about the £5 million that was part of the wider package for the restart. It is anticipated that the £5 million Education Restart well-being project funding will be allocated directly to schools, subject to business case approval. By receiving their own allocation, schools will benefit from having the flexibility to use the money to provide health and well-being support and to draw down support for their pupils and staff. There is also, separately — it was previously mentioned as part of the overall budget — an addition of £5 million in general well-being initiatives. I believe that, with some support from our Health colleagues, we will be able to make that a slightly bigger picture in connection with that, so two streams of money will be made available. One will probably go to particular projects that will support the school sector, and one is likely to be directly allocated to schools for them to decide where they feel it is best to deploy that resource and to use their knowledge on the ground.

Photo of Patsy McGlone Patsy McGlone Social Democratic and Labour Party

Maolíosa. Just a brief supplementary. We will get you in.

Photo of Maolíosa McHugh Maolíosa McHugh Sinn Féin

It is of utmost importance that you take into consideration the emotional health and well-being of students now that they are back in the classroom, so how will CCEA's consultation on the curriculum and exams take into consideration the mental health and well-being of students? In a sense, too, that very much relates to the previous question about the 11-plus. I come from a community where people have long memories. They remember how children did in the 11-plus, but they do not remember how they graduated after it.

Photo of Peter Weir Peter Weir DUP

I think that time is, effectively, gone. On all three points, it is important that there is that level of support. That is why there is separate funding for the engage programme, which will deal with academic catch-up, and it was important that that was not done simply as an exercise in and of itself, but that specific money was directed towards well-being. For all of us, being able to establish the impact on well-being of COVID's interruption to education — even today, there is probably not an absolutely clear picture —.

Photo of Patsy McGlone Patsy McGlone Social Democratic and Labour Party

Minister, we have run over a wee bit. That ends the period for listed questions. We will now move to topical questions. Number 4 has been withdrawn.