Work on educational underachievement must be resourced

DUP MLAs have welcomed the Fair Start report into educational underachievement. Members of the Expert Panel appeared before the Education Committee this morning and presented their findings.

By Robin Newton MLA

Belfast East

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Speaking afterwards, DUP members of the Committee said,

“The Fair Start report which was commissioned by Peter Weir and taken forward by Michelle McIlveen is a major step towards tackling an issue that we have been highlighting over many years.

This report identifies a cross-departmental approach to tackle the persistent issue of educational underachievement, particularly amongst working-class Protestant boys. Whilst this previously has been highlighted, there are now identified actions and costings with a focus on early years interventions which cover a range of departments.

“The Education Minister has identified 4million from this year’s budget which she has allocated to kick start this process. However, this is only a very small part of tackling disadvantage and inequality within the early years of a child’s life and educational experience. This will require the cooperation and work of a number of government departments who will have to commit funding and energy to tackling disadvantage.

The Finance Minister must ensure that the year on year funding is available to ensure that children have a firm foundation to succeed in their chosen pathways. In 20/21 the report estimates that the actions will require 10.9 million rising to 73.1 million in 2026/27.

This report has been agreed as a priority by every party in the Executive and comes as a result of the commitment within the New Decade New Approach agreement. If we are to improve outcomes for children and young people then the resources must be made available.”

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