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Tackling underachievement is a priority – Ruane

10 December, 2008 - by Caitríona Ruane

Education Minister Caitríona Ruane has said that tackling educational underachievement is a key priority for the North South Ministerial Council.

The minister was speaking after the education sectoral meeting of the NSMC held in Dublin. She said; "The North South Ministerial Council has important joint work to do across a number of key issues in education. Tackling underachievement in education is a key priority for me and the council. We need to have mechanisms in place to promote equality and ensure every child and young person, from whatever background, has access to education of the highest standard.

"The NSMC meeting agreed the initial work programme for the recently established joint Educational Underachievement Working Group. The group will have an early focus on interventions to support parents and families help their children with education; identification of best practice in schools serving disadvantaged communities and carry out joint work to explore the particular challenges facing children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. These will include Traveller and newcomer children, children with learning or other disabilities and children suffering social impacts, such as alcohol, drugs and violence against women and children, all of which affect their ability to do well at school.

"I am pleased that my department and the Department of Education and Science will jointly host a conference next year on Best Practice in Traveller Education to highlight the particular needs of this group."

The North South Ministerial Council meeting was hosted by Batt O'Keeffe Minister for Education and Science and attended by Jeffrey Donaldson MP, Junior Minister in the Office of First Minister and deputy First Minister.

During the meeting ministers were given updates on the work of the Middletown Centre for Autism, including plans for new buildings.

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