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DUP: No playing favourites in education

By Michael McHugh

Published 07/04/2016

DUP leader Arlene Foster launches the party’s education policy paper alongside Peter Weir at Armagh Planetarium
DUP leader Arlene Foster launches the party’s education policy paper alongside Peter Weir at Armagh Planetarium

The DUP has pledged to stop "squandering money" on Irish language schools and bring grading systems into line with the rest of the UK.

Vocational qualifications would enjoy parity of esteem with academic subjects and families supported to tackle educational underachievement.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said she wanted to give every child the opportunity to succeed.

"No more squandering money on Irish-medium schools which cater for as few as 14 pupils.

"I want to build an education system that does not play favourites but is fair to every sector, every school and every child."

The unionist party has previously claimed Sinn Fein has "weaponised" the Irish language as part of a cultural war.

Sinn Fein Education Minister John O'Dowd has called Nelson McCausland's allegations "nonsense".

The DUP launched a policy paper on education on Wednesday in Armagh. It promised to give greater autonomy to schools, with a fundamental shift from centrally-controlled expenditure.

It would place special educational needs (SEN) schools in the same budgetary position as mainstream schools, ensuring equality across all sectors.

The plan would give schools the freedom to create more individualised pathways matched to individual needs.

Mr O'Dowd has decided there will be no change in GCSE grading in Northern Ireland.

Next year English examining boards will shift to giving their results in the form of numbers, where nine is the highest grade and one the lowest.

DUP proposals would make the GCSE grading system compatible with the rest of the UK, so Northern Ireland students will not be at a disadvantage applying for jobs or university places.

The unionist party said it would continue to work towards a system where one sector is not favoured over another, and towards the goal of a single education system.

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