Education Minister John O’Dowd today announced a further £9.9million to help schools fulfil their requirements under the Entitlement Framework.
From September 2013 schools will be required to provide access to an increased number of courses. The Entitlement Framework, which becomes statutory in September 2013, will enhance the ability of schools to plan and manage the offer of courses to the benefit of all pupils in the local area.
Speaking about the announcement, Minister O’Dowd said: “In 2012 I commissioned a review of the Common Funding Scheme to ensure it remains consistent with my Department’s policy objectives, including the delivery of the statutory curriculum. I took delivery of that report just a few weeks ago and am carefully considering all its recommendations, including those relating to the Entitlement Framework. However, having listened to the concerns of school leaders, I have decided to take some immediate action in this area and I am pleased to announce an additional £9.9million to support the Entitlement Framework for the next two years.”
Since 2008, the Department of Education has provided additional funding for the Entitlement Framework as a contribution to the additional costs associated with planning and delivering an expanded curricular offer at Key Stage 4 and post-16. Funding support was due to be phased out by the end of the 2013/14 financial year but the Minister has identified additional resources to allow for the continuation of the Entitlement Framework support funding in the 2014/15 financial year.
The Minister continued: “I recognise the tough financial challenges that schools face and the difficult choices they have to make to ensure they are able to deliver a broad and balanced range of courses. In recognition of this I have decided to provide an additional £3million in 2013/14 and a further £6.9million in 2014/15 financial year. This additional funding will go some way to ease budget pressures faced by schools.”
From September 2013 every young person between the ages of 14 and 19 will, for the first time, be guaranteed access to a minimum number of courses, no matter what school they attend or where they live. The Entitlement Framework is about every school putting the needs and aspirations of pupils first and making sure young people are supported to make informed decisions about their course choices for Key Stage 4 and post-16.
Concluding, the Minister said that he is committed to reducing underachievement and to closing the continuing attainment gap in education. He said: “Every young person should leave education having had the best opportunity to achieve their full potential. They should be equipped with the knowledge, understanding and skills they need as individuals to be effective contributors to society and to the economy.
“Each school must continue to work towards the full requirements of 24 courses at Key stage 4 and 27 at post-16 as this is what every pupil in every post-primary school is entitled to have access to. Enhanced course offerings will help support our young people as they develop into the employees, employers and entrepreneurs of the future.”