Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Minister unveils education projects

John O'Dowd said the projects would provide valuable support for children facing difficulties

Two new education projects are set to support children in early learning and pupils who are blind or visually impaired.

Education Minister John O'Dowd unveiled a new Early Years Learner Support Handbook and officially opened the recently established Regional Vision Impairment Resource Base.

He told the launch event at the Fortwilliam Centre in Belfast that both projects would provide valuable support for children facing difficulties.

Early years learning has been regularly identified as a key area of development for children. The minister said the handbook, developed within the Belfast Education and Library Board (BELB), provided advice and guidance on areas that cause most concern in early years.

"Too many of our young children are starting pre-school with delays or difficulties with their development," he said.

"If those children don't get the help they need at the right time, many will fall behind and find it very difficult to catch up with their peers."

He added: "We should have high expectations for all children, especially our most disadvantaged. This handbook should prove to be a valuable resource in identifying what particular problems may be, how best to offer help and where to get it from."

The minister said of the venue's Regional Vision Impairment Resource Base: "The innovative facility will support full educational inclusion for blind and visually impaired pupils and is an excellent testimony to the collaborative working between the statutory and voluntary sectors."

The base will provide a transcription service that will create electronic and hard copies, plus a learning support service to help with issues such as equipment and technology. It will be facilitated by BELB on behalf of the five boards.

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