EAST Londonderry MLA Claire Sugden has welcomed the appointment of an expert panel designed to examine the links between educational underachievement and social disadvantage.
The Minister of Education announced the formation of the panel, established under the ‘New Decade, New Approach’ agreement.
“It’s unacceptable in 2020 that any section of society is falling behind in education and it’s a positive step the Minister is addressing it,” Ms Sugden said.
“At one end of the system, we have the some of the best education in the world, at the other – the worst.”
In 2017/18, only 48.6 per cent of Free School Meal entitled (FSME) school leavers achieved the benchmark of five or more GCSEs (A* to C), including English and maths. While this figure increased by over 22 per cent in the last 12 years, the equivalent for non-FSME school leavers was 78.1 per cent with a 19.6 per cent increase over the same period.
“All children should be given equal access to high quality education and opportunities to aspire,” Ms Sugden said.
“There are clearly barriers in particular socio-economic backgrounds which must be removed.
“We all benefit when our children are properly educated.”