21 February 2017
Education Minister Peter Weir today addressed a conference focused on tackling educational underachievement. The conference was hosted by the Greater Shankill Partnership board at the Spectrum Centre.
During the course of his address he said,
“There is clear evidence that pupils from socially disadvantaged backgrounds have greater obstacles to overcome and the schools and providers serving those areas with the highest proportions of our most deprived pupils need additional resources to help these children and young people achieve their potential.
In recognition of this, I have maintained the level of funding for Targeting Social Need and in this financial year almost £80 million has been allocated directly to schools to support the learning of socially disadvantaged pupils and those at risk of educational underachievement. My commitment to support schools was also seen in the provision of an additional £14million spending power to schools this year.
However, it is clear that there is no single solution to the problem of underachievement; it is about building a range of interventions that will work in an area and which will be supported by the local community.
I have focused on those policies which aim to support schools and teachers in their work to raise standards and overcome the barriers to learning which some pupils face and which support collaboration and sharing of good practice across the school system.
I recognise the powerful influence that local communities can exercise on educational outcomes and the importance of engaging with parents and families. Whilst Ministers and their departments have a role to play, so much more can be achieved when a community itself takes the lead.
Schools need the commitment of parents and communities if they are to ensure that young people are supported to attain and achieve. A partnership approach aids community cohesion and benefits those living in the local area and, in turn, society as a whole.
Together, all these factors impact positively on pupils’ progress and achievements.
In Education, we need to ensure that we are looking at things from a long-term perspective.
The growing recognition of the importance of intervention in the early years has therefore led to the Department’s increased investment in Early Years initiatives such as the Pre-School Education Programme and Sure Start.
Ensuring that every child and young person is given the opportunity to achieve to their fullest potential is a societal issue. Education is not just about schools we all have an important role to play - government departments and agencies, education stakeholders, voluntary and community organisations and parents.
Our future economic success depends on a high quality education system that develops the different talents and skills of children and young people – our future workforce.”