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The Expert Panel on Educational Underachievement has published its interim report.

The Panel, established under the ‘New Decade, New Approach’ agreement, is examining links between persistent educational underachievement and socio-economic background.

A wide range of oral and written evidence has been considered by the Panel, to determine what policy changes are needed and will have the greatest impact. They include themes such as:

  • Redirecting the focus to Early Years
  • Championing Emotional Health and Well-Being
  • Promoting a whole community approach to education
  • Supporting the professional learning and wellbeing of school leadership

Education Minister Peter Weir said: “The Educational Underachievement interim report has revealed just how broad the factors are in influencing educational underachievement, and that solutions to the challenge of addressing this issue will be complex and varied.

“The report outlines work recently undertaken including an on-line consultation and engagement with children and young people through groups like The National Children’s Bureau and Barnardos NI.

“As the Expert Panel begin to formulate their final recommendations and costed action plan, it is clear that addressing this long-standing issue will need to be funded. It will also require leadership, time and effort, and political consensus."

The Expert Panel is now progressing its work and a final report and action plan is due to be submitted to Minister Weir by the end of May 2021.

Concluding, the Minister said: “I have been involved in the issue of educational underachievement since 2012 and have been passionate about addressing this persistent problem ever since.

I know the Expert Panel is determined that this work will bring real change to improve the outcomes for all children and young people, and to help close the attainment gap.”