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Children must be at the centre – not institutions

15 October, 2009 - by Caitríona Ruane

We need to put children’s needs at the centre – it is our duty, our responsibility and we must rise to the challenge.

That was the message from the Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane as she made a keynote speech to the education community in the Titanic Pump House today.

Speaking at the event, the Minister said: "My mission, my responsibility as Minister is to enable every young person to fulfil her or his full potential, to ensure that every child receives the highest quality of teaching and learning at every stage in their education and that equality is at the core of everything we do.

"Despite the best efforts of many, our education system is letting too many children down – 4,500 are leaving primary school without basic literacy and numeracy skills and by the end of post-primary, almost 11,000 leave school without five good GSCE's including literacy and maths. This cannot continue.

"There is much discussion around the education sector about post-primary transfer. For decades our education system has been flawed and disadvantages many of our young people, but thankfully the 11 plus is now gone and will not be coming back. While this is a very important issue, there are many, many other reforms on-going in the Department, there is much exciting work happening across the education sector and we will continue with this work to create a better education system.”

The Minister continued: "Today, I have outlined the interconnected and complementary reforms which are intended to revitalise and invigorate our system, ranging from ESA; Every School A Good School; the Revised Literacy and Numeracy Strategy; the Early Years Strategy; the Review of Irish-Medium Education; the Revised Curriculum and Sustainable Schools. We need to step up a gear, push forward with the reforms and make our education system one to be proud of.

"One of the major reforms taking place is the Entitlement Framework, which will be a statutory requirement from 2013. From today, I am spelling out to all post-primary schools that I want to see a change in pace, a stepping up of efforts. All schools will be required to demonstrate how they will effectively deliver the Entitlement Framework and seek to maximise choice for children in the future - I want to ensure their plans are not only robust but will deliver a high quality learning experience."

The Minister outlined five pillars around which the education system will be developed:

· raising standards for all;
· closing the gap in achievement by improving access and equity;
· enhancing the quality of teaching by developing our workforce;
· improving the learning environment through targeted investment; and
· transforming management cutting out bureaucracy and delivering the support that schools need.

During her speech, the Minister referred to the 'Together towards Entitlement', report which is soon to be published by the Area Based Planning Group chaired by Adeline Dinsmore.

The Minister said: "Area Based Planning is a key piece of work for my Department and a significant amount of work has been completed in this area. Area Based Planning will drive the reshaping of our estate and the consequential investment plans. I have commissioned a review of current projects to ensure that all are consistent with the overall policy framework and will be viable and sustainable in the long term.

"In the current budget period, 2008-2011, I intend to invest some £718million on school and youth services and over the 10-year period to 2018, total planned investment is £3.5billion.

"I will soon be able to publish the area-based planning report which sets out a road map to delivering a better, more equitable post-primary education system that will serve the needs of all our young people. I want to thank all involved in producing this report, both at the central and local levels. Their invaluable work will help to shape the future of education."

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