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Call to heed lessons of critical schools report

By Rebecca Black

Drastic action is needed to improve our education system, campaigners have said.

The Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) biennial report, published yesterday, found that too many children were being failed by schools here.

Inspectors observed more than 9,000 lessons in schools across the province.

Their findings also show that one in three secondary schools here could not be evaluated as good, and 15% were less than satisfactory.

Alliance MLA Trevor Lunn urged Education Minister John O'Dowd to act on the report's results.

"While this report has found a slight increase in the amount of pupils achieving five or more good GCSEs, it does show that drastic action is needed to improve schools that are currently failing," he said.

"Northern Ireland usually produces some of the best exam results in the UK, but we are failing those children who come through our education system without adequate qualifications.

"The Education Minister must act on this report and ensure that every school delivers results for all pupils.

"Every pupil deserves to be given the same level of opportunity at school."

Ukip MLA David McNarry said that a new course of extensive actions needs to be plotted for children falling behind in their studies.

"We need to rebuild education from the early years up. We need to explore ideas on how better results can be achieved quickly," he said.

Conservative spokesman Mark Brotherston accused Sinn Fein of "failing to tackle underacheivement in schools".

Mr O'Dowd welcomed the ETI report, adding he valued its feedback.

"This report deserves careful scrutiny and it will assist in implementing current education policy and in informing thinking on new policy in the future," the minister said.

"My top priority as Education Minister is to raise standards for all of our children, regardless of gender, religion or socio-economic background.

"I believe that the range of policies currently in place under the Every School A Good School umbrella are helping achieve this goal and are reducing the gap in performance between those from the most affluent backgrounds and those who are more disadvantaged."

Mr O'Dowd urged parents, carers and families to get involved in their children's education, from early years through to adolescence.

"Such involvement delivers real benefits to educational outcomes and is the focus of my ongoing Education Works campaign," he added.

Story so far

The Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) biennial report found that while our system is good, it is failing some children. Findings included that 21,000 children (6%) attend schools which need to be improved, one in three secondaries could not be evaluated as good, and 5,000 children leave primary schools annually with standards of literacy and numeracy which are not good.

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