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More than 70,000 school places in Northern Ireland surplus to requirements

There are still too many empty desks in Northern Ireland's classrooms, a report has concluded.

In excess of 70,000 school places are deemed surplus - double the target set for education chiefs.

Although the performance of schools is improving, the quality of leadership and underachievement remain a problem in some.

The findings emerge in a report published today by the Northern Ireland Audit Office.

It looks at the sustainability of schools in Northern Ireland, examining progress made by the Department of Education since the 2006 Bain Review.

Sir George Bain concluded that because of falling pupil numbers and the many teaching sectors, there were too many schools and some would become educationally unsustainable.

However, today's report notes that targets have been missed.

The Department of Education reported that in 2014/15, there were 71,000 surplus places - about 20% of total capacity.

The number of surplus places has fallen by 12,000 since 2009 - but is still double the 10% target set in the Bain Review.

Almost three-quarters of the surplus places are in primary schools.

Belfast Telegraph