Belfast Telegraph

Peter Weir: Breakthrough that will ease burden on pupils and parents

By Peter Weir

It has been a huge honour and privilege to serve as Education Minister. From day one I have endeavoured to deliver the electoral pledges that the DUP made prior to the election in May 2016.

Like most people in Northern Ireland, I hoped to have five years to shape education and deliver for young people.

An orchestrated crisis, made for cheap political gain and a desire to rerun the 2016 election, has meant that my five-year tenure has been cut short.

Nevertheless, in the short period of time the DUP has made progress on our electoral pledges.

The DUP worked tirelessly to secure academic selection over a decade ago.

I am delighted to say that discussions are continuing between the two transfer providers.

I believe we can come to a resolution to find a common entrance test within the very near future.

I commissioned an independent analysis of transfer testing, which I now have in my possession and will be releasing to the public in the near future.

I changed guidelines for primary schools preparing pupils for transfer assessments so that teachers and pupils are given a fair opportunity.

This has eased the burden for schools, parents and, most importantly, pupils.

I have had a very short period of time to shape education. Nevertheless, I believe that the education system in Northern Ireland is in a much better place than when I found it in May 2016.

There is much work to be done.

There are still pupils underachieving. The system is not perfect.

There are tight budget constraints.

But I believe through more hard work, continuing to improve relationships across the education sector, and most importantly, putting children first, we can ensure that Northern Ireland still works to have one of Europe's best education systems.

Peter Weir is Assembly candidate for Strangford

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