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O’Dowd welcomes final report of the Literacy and Numeracy Taskforce

17 November, 2011 - by John O'Dowd

Education Minister, John O’Dowd, today attended the launch of the final report of the Literacy and Numeracy Taskforce.

The Taskforce was set up to advise and oversee progress by the Department on developing and implementing the literacy and numeracy strategy.

Welcoming the report’s publication during a visit to Oakwood Integrated Primary School in Dunmurry, Mr O’Dowd said: “The Literacy and Numeracy Taskforce has played a valuable part in shaping the policies we now have in place for raising standards. We have benefitted greatly from members’ collective expertise and readiness to advise, support and challenge.

“In its final report, the Taskforce has recognised my Department’s ‘firm commitment’ to raising standards and tackling underachievement. It has also highlighted the importance of high quality teaching, strong leadership, high expectations, sharing good practice, the effective use of data and early intervention as important factors in raising standards. These are embedded within our school improvement policy and literacy and numeracy strategy.

“An issue of particular importance to the Taskforce is the forging of strong links between schools and their community. As I made clear in my recent statement to the Assembly, I am keen to work on ways of promoting the value we place on education as a society. To do this, we must examine how to achieve this, including as a beginning, encouraging greater parental engagement in education.”

The Minister continued: “Evidence suggests that the link between underachievement and socio-economic background is stronger here than in other OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development) countries. Yet there is evidence, both locally and internationally, that the link can be broken. The solution to improving outcomes for all pupils, regardless of their background, lies in improving the quality of school leadership and the quality of teaching in all our schools. My Department’s policies are designed to do this and will address the root causes preventing pupils achieving their full potential.”

Commenting on the report, Sir Robert Salisbury, who chaired the Taskforce, said: “As a society, we must make sure all of our young people, regardless of background or ability, are fully equipped with the qualifications and skills they will need to succeed in the future. This must be our absolute priority. The final report identifies the key issues which the team felt ought to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Throughout our deliberations, the members of the Taskforce have been passionate about raising achievement in all our schools and I would like to thank them for their commitment and expertise.”

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