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‘A child’s social background should not pre-determine their life chances’ – O’Dowd

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Education Minister John O’Dowd has commended teachers for their role in educating future generations.

Minister O’Dowd was speaking as he opened the 13th Annual Standing Conference on Teacher Education North and South in Limerick.

The Minister said: “Since becoming Education Minister, my vision has been that all young people achieve their best and that our teachers and the wider education service supports them to do that. I strongly believe that education is central to the success of every pupil and wider society.

“Developing an education system that is world class, valuing every child equally, with schools capable of meeting the needs of all our children regardless of their background is fundamental.

“Your role, as teacher educators, is a central one and I know how committed schools are to inspiring our young people to achieve their best. Events like this are hugely important in driving forward work to improve the lives of our children and young people.

“I want to empower the teaching profession to strengthen its professionalism and expertise to meet the challenging educational needs of young people in the 21st century. I will soon be publishing my Strategy of Teacher Professional Learning which is has a vision for teacher professional learning in 2020 and beyond. I want to see every teacher supported to be a Lifelong Learning Leader – leading their own learning and that of their pupils.

“In the North, the educational performance of our most deprived pupils has continued to improve in recent years. In the last year we have seen a 4.8 percentage points increase in those year 12 pupils achieving 5 or more GCSEs at grades A*-C including English and maths. But we need to ensure that the focus remains on improvement and equity because gaps still remain.

“Teachers and school leaders are key to raising standards and I offer you my support in doing what I can to assist you. We must continue to push the boundaries and aim higher for every child, particularly those from the most deprived backgrounds. That way every child – whatever their background – will get the best possible start in life.”

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