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Skills Development essential for economic success - Ruane

8 November, 2007

Sinn Féin Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane, today praised local schools who are working in partnership with business organisations to enhance pupils' skills development.

The Minister was speaking at the launch of "Our Partner for the Future", a partnership between Norbrook Laboratories, St Colman's College, Newry and St Paul's High School, Bessbrook.

The Minister said:

"I have seen Learning Communities and Partnerships growing in many local areas; all distinct and unique to their localities but with one thing in common; a focus on maximising the opportunities for their young people. This focus on our young people and their futures is what I think is so exciting about the work that St Paul's, St Colman's and Norbrook are embarking on and that we are here today to launch."

The aim of the partnership is to enhance the experience of pupils studying science, to provide opportunities for work experience and to increase awareness of employment possibilities in the scientific field. Emphasising the importance of skills development in young people to ensure the long-term economic success of the North of Ireland the Minister added;

"The business community has a wide-ranging role to play in helping us to deliver a world class education system: by communicating their needs to education providers, by raising awareness of career opportunities and by providing experience of the working environment to pupils and to teachers. The "Our Partner for the Future" project encompasses all of these things and provides young people with the opportunity to explore the scientific world of work."

The Revised Curriculum and the Entitlement Framework aim to develop key skills, to increase access and choice for all young people (both at Key Stage 4 and Post-16) and to enable young people to make informed decisions about their futures. Partnership working will be a key aspect of the delivery of these reforms, and many schools are embarking on collaborative arrangements with other schools, with Further Education Colleges and developing links to the business community.

Through the Entitlement Framework young people will have access to a wider range of subjects, both academic and professional and technical and will be able to choose a mix that best suits their needs.

The Department of Education, in conjunction with the Department for Employment and Learning, is carrying out a review of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to produce a strategy to enhance pupil uptake of these subjects and to increase the number of teachers qualified to teach STEM subjects. The overall aim of the STEM review is to emphasise the links to the skills and innovation needs of the wider economy.


1. Norbrook is a privately owned group founded in 1969 by Edward Haughey (now Lord Ballyedmond). Since its foundation in 1968 it has grown to be one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies, manufacturing veterinary and animal health products.

2. As part of the partnership arrangement, both schools will be able to upgrade or develop their science resources with equipment no longer of use to the company. Norbrook personnel will have the opportunity to speak to the students throughout the academic year and Norbrook will also provide opportunities for work experience for pupils.

3. The partnership has adopted the phrase "Our Partner for the Future".

4. The Revised Curriculum has been introduced on a phased basis from September 2007. Employability, incorporating Entrepreneurship, forms a key part of learning for life and work at post-primary level.

5. The Entitlement Framework will guarantee all post -primary pupils aged 14 and above greater choice and flexibility by providing them with access to a wide range of learning opportunities suited to their needs, aptitudes and interests, irrespective of where they live or the school they attend, including a minimum range of vocational courses. The target date for the full implementation of the Entitlement Framework is September 2009.

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