Sinn Féin - On Your Side

We are failing too many children - Ruane

17 October, 2008

Sinn Féin Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane, has challenged the complacent view that we have an excellent education system that does not need reform.

The Minister was speaking at the annual conference of the Association of Education and Library Boards held at the Millennium Forum, Derry.

The Minister said:

"I welcome the good results achieved by those children at the top of the system. But this hides a shocking level of underachievement for many of our children. It is not acceptable to me, to the children affected, to their families, nor should it continue to be accepted by many in the education system. It affects our whole social and economic future.

"We have examples of schools with similar profiles where their achievements are miles apart. Take two schools serving the same level of disadvantage - there is a 50% difference in the results at five good GCSE's. How can we accept such an outcome - such a lottery? We must act now to give these young people the chances they deserve. The education system should not be based on the luck of the draw of which school is attended.

"We know that a good school is one that has high quality teaching, a good calibre of leadership and management, close parental and community links and a positive ethos and culture. Many schools already have these characteristics. We need to ensure that they are common to all schools.

"I am determined to raise standards. I am progressing a new school improvement policy and a revised strategy to improve literacy and numeracy. I am encouraging the development of leaders and promoting accountable autonomy in schools. The Education and Skills Authority (ESA) will, from next year, be required to drive these programmes forward. The ESA will be there to provide help and support to front-line services in schools. In turn, schools will be more accountable to the parents and communities they serve.

"All the key partners in education should be working closely together, to deliver an education system that proudly serves all our children to the highest possible standards." ENDS

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