Stakeholder Event on 29 June 2011
Fifty-nine organisations were represented at the Committee for Education’s Stakeholder Event on 29 June 2011. The event gave MLAs on the Committee an opportunity to meet informally with a broad range of stakeholders, in the areas of education, children and young people, and to hear their views on the key issues affecting children and how they might be addressed.
Invited organisations were asked to complete an on-line survey and Committee Chairperson, Mervyn Storey, presented an analysis of the results to the assembled guests.
Respondents to the Committee’s online survey identified the top three key challenges in education in the coming years as:
In terms of how these challenges might be addressed, respondents said:
Funding and Budgets
- Rationalisation of the schools estate;
- Review of how funding is allocated and spent;
- Ensure that no more than 20% of the budget is spent on administration;
- Provision of information and guidance on the implications of the budget for schools.
“A review of the education budget and of the LMS formula to underpin the Sustainable Schools policy is required.”
“Rationalisation and reorganisation of the schools estate across and between all sectors.”
Special Educational Needs and Inclusion
- Urgent efforts should be made to progress work in this area;
- Comprehensive and strategic planning is required;
- The Review of Special Educational Needs and Inclusion should be released and taken forward.
“Urgent efforts are needed to move on the process begun in the SEN Review. There was widespread uncertainty expressed during the consultation... and as many children continue to struggle in school we still await the next steps for reform.”
- Early identification and intervention for pupils performing less well than might be expected;
- Increasing parental involvement in education and encouraging initiatives such as school councils and peer mentoring;
- Building the capacity of teachers to address underachievement through focused training and development;
- Cross-departmental strategies and practices.
“Expand training to equip teachers better to retain young people in school and identify disengagement risk factors. Interdepartmental and integrated practices and policies in partnership with communities are vital in ensuring successful outcomes.”
After the presentation of the on-line survey results the Chairperson and Committee Members held a brief Q & A with invited guests, followed by informal discussions over tea and coffee.
The survey results reflect some of the Committee’s key concerns and help confirm that the Committee is focussing on the important issues. The Committee’s budget scrutiny since the May 2011 election has focussed on the financial pressures facing education and the Committee will continue to engage with the Minister on his plans to deliver efficiencies while minimising the impact on front line services. On the Review of SEN the Committee was briefed by senior officials in June; the survey confirms the urgent need for progress on this very long running Review. In relation to Underachievement the Committee is awaiting the Minister’s response to the previous Committee’s Inquiry Report in this area which made a number or recommendations. The survey results highlight the importance of this strand of the Committee’s work.
The Committee thanked everyone for attending the event. Members are keen to engage with stakeholders on the wide range of challenges facing education in Northern Ireland and the Committee will be holding regular informal stakeholder events. Organisations or individuals wishing to attend these events should contact the committee office on 02890521201 or email@example.com.