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Concern at failure to meet literacy and numeracy targets

15 November, 2006

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson, West Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff has said he is very worried that the Department of Education has accepted that it will not meet its' targets on improving numeracy and literacy targets for the post disadvantaged children.

The Annual Progress Report for 2005/006 "Progress in Implementing Priorities and Budget 2005-08‚ revealed that the Department of Education is 'not likely to achieve" one of its key targets:

"To reduce differentials in educational attainment so that by 2008, 70% of pupils in the most disadvantaged primary schools, will achieve level 4 or above in Key Stage 2 in English and in Maths, compared to 63% English and 67% Maths in 2002/3."

In comment from the department on the issue it said that the 2005 performance was 64% for English and 67% for Maths and that possibly it could meet the 2008 70% target for Maths but that it was unlikely to meet English target.

Commenting on the failure to meet this target Mr McElduff said:

"The last Audit Report on the failures of the numeracy and literacy programmes highlighted very serious problems and while the department points to a current review of the literacy and numeracy strategies I think that many educationalists will be very disappointed that this is the only target that the department has said it will not be able to achieve.

"The fact that there is virtually no progress on the 2002/03 figure reported for 2005 shows that the department is making little on no impact on a problem that means that a very significant number of children from disadvantaged primary schools will be moving into post primary education without some of the basic skills they need to progress.

"Sinn Féin have consistently challenged the long tail of under achievement within the current education system and identified the need to targeted early intervention particularly to support our children living in disadvantaged areas where there of some of the lowest educational outcomes.

"I believe that there must be a commitment to target resources to those areas most in need and while I accept that we need to address problems within the literacy and numeracy programmes, I also believe that the loss of support resources such as teaching assistants as a result of Education Library Board cuts will not help us address this failure." ENDS

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