'No child should be left behind’ - Ní Chuilín
Sinn Féin North Belfast MLAs Carál Ní Chuilín and Gerry Kelly have said that ‘no child should be left behind’ and young children and their families should receive the necessary support and proper resources to ensure they reach their full potential at an early age.
Speaking after convening a meeting with senior officials from the Department of Education and local schools, Carál Ní Chuilín said:
“As elected representatives for North Belfast, we felt it appropriate to convene today’s meeting in order to give the schools that fall within the top ten percent of the most deprived wards in the north, an opportunity to participate in discussions to find a way forward on children reaching their potential.
“The latest Multiple Deprivation Measure rankings, published in November 2017, confirm the sobering reality that the inner North Belfast communities continue to be amongst the most deprived across the north of Ireland.
“Four of the ten most deprived Super Output Areas (SOAs) across the state, and 6 of the 16 most deprived SOAs, are to be found in the three inner north Belfast wards of Ardoyne, Water Works and New Lodge.
“These areas also continue to be characterised by issues relating to the legacy of the conflict.
“In terms of concentrated levels of deprivation, those figures objectively illustrate how there is no comparable geographic district of scale with a similar profile of deprivation according to the multiple deprivation measure ranking.
“Investing in the primary school sector is central to ensuring that children do not get left behind. Schools require significant and sustained investment to ensure that the many formidable barriers that act to prevent children from many socio-economically deprived backgrounds from fulfilling their academic potential are overcome.
“Sinn Féin believe there is an obligation on the Department of Education to meet the needs of children, and to recognize that the challenge of effectively tackling deep-rooted deprivation starts with investing in the youth.”