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All-Party Report urged Education Minister to Reform School Funding

13 November, 2013 - by Chris Hazzard

It has been revealed that despite the political rhetoric from some quarters over John O’Dowd’s plans to reform the Common Funding Formula in recent weeks, earlier this year the DUP, UUP, SDLP and Sinn Féin all agreed a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Report which specifically called on the Minister to do exactly that.

 Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Chris Hazzard MLA has said that this latest revelation “highlights once again the hypocrisy of those who scream the house down when the reality of the situation is revealed, yet inexplicably baulk when subsequent reform is proposed.

 “In February the Audit Office published a hard-hitting report into Numeracy & Literacy achievement in which they unequivocally identified the effects of Social Deprivation as the ‘strongest predictor of educational attainment’ within our local education system.

 “On the back of this report, the PAC initiated an inquiry and published a similarly robust and rigorous report calling on the Education Minister to urgently address several issues – including the need to reform the current Funding Formula, as it was not targeting those children most in need.

 When asked to identify who exactly are the children most in need, Mr Hazzard points again to the Audit Office report:

 “The Audit Office constantly refers to the fact that it is ‘pupils from an economically deprived background who achieve considerably lower results’.  But then this information isn’t new, all the local and international evidence is emphatic in this regard – however some people prefer not to acknowledge the facts – even when they are highlighted by an independent and widely respected organisation such as the Audit Office.

 “Opponents of the proposed reforms must explain why it is appropriate for the Audit Office and the all-party Public Accounts Committee to identify social need as paramount in addressing educational outcomes, yet it is unacceptable for the Minister to implement such urgent calls for reform. I would guess that a toxic mix of party politics and educational elitism is clouding the debate.”

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