Belfast Telegraph

Area Learning Communities benefit from £1.5million funding

Stormont Executive press release - Department of Education

Area learning communities across the north are benefitting from a £1.5million investment to support improvement in literacy and numeracy outcomes for local pupils.

The Strategic Development Fund (SDF) was established by the Education Minister, John O’Dowd, last year and will run until 2015. £1.5million has been made available to help Area Learning Communities (ALCs) improve young people’s literacy and numeracy, particularly those underachieving or from disadvantaged backgrounds.

There are 30 ALCs, involving 250 schools, comprising all mainstream post-primary schools, special schools with post-primary pupils and further education colleges. The institutions work together to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum for their pupils and deliver on the requirements of the Entitlement Framework.

Speaking about the investment, Minister O’Dowd said: “One of my main aims as Education Minister is to raise educational standards and provide every young person with a much broader and more balanced curriculum from the age of 14. Recent statistics show that we have been successful in starting to achieve this with standards continually rising, however more needs to be done.

“That is why I decided to make additional resources available to ALCs to help improve the literacy and numeracy levels of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds who are at risk of underachievement in either English and/or maths at GCSE level.

“This is one of a number of packages aimed at supporting educational improvements and enables schools to share best practice, expertise and resources to better meet the needs of pupils. Supporting the work of ALCs in this way will assist in the drive to raise standards.”

The SDF provides financial support for substitution cover and supports minor costs associated with the development of resources or assessment of pupils.

In conclusion, the Minister commented on the important role the Entitlement Framework will play in putting the needs and aspirations of pupils first. He said: “Pupils who have the opportunity to study subjects that interest and excite them are more likely to enjoy school and gain the qualifications they need to successfully progress in life. From September, every young person between the ages of 14 and 19 will, for the first time, be guaranteed access to a minimum number of courses no matter what school they attend or where they live. Earlier this year I announced additional funding of £9.9million to help schools deliver this. Every young person should leave education having had the best opportunity to achieve their full potential.”

Notes to editors:

1. Funding of £500,000 per annum is available for three financial years from 2012/13.

2. From September 2013 schools will be required to provide access to at least 18 courses at Key Stage 4, one third of which must be general and one third applied. This will increase to 21 courses by September 2014 and the full 24 by September 2015.

3. Post-16 requirements will be phased in starting with 21 courses from September 2013, one third of which must be general and one third applied, up to the full 27 by September 2015.

4. The Department of Education’s ‘Education Works’ campaign encourages families to play, talk, read and count with their child and to ‘Get Involved Because Education Works’. The campaign highlights the vital role families can play in helping children do well at school and improve their life chances. Visit for more information.

Watch the TV ad on the Department’s YouTube channel:

5. See photos from the Department of Education in our collection at

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