Report shows that education standards in NI slipping…

A report from the chief Inspector of Education and Training Inspectorate shows that there is an unacceptable gap between low and high achievers. Are NI youth being failed by the system???School ‘failing youth of Northern Ireland’

Tuesday May 24, 2005

Too many young people in Northern Ireland are leaving school without qualifications, according to a report published today.

In her second report on education in Northern Ireland, Marion Matchett, the chief inspector of the Education and Training Inspectorate, said: “The gap between those achieving the highest and lowest levels of attainment is unacceptably wide, even while taking into account the circumstances occasioned by adverse social and other environmental factors.”

She said disadvantage had to be tackled through more effective management and better targeted teaching.

Many young people in Northern Ireland entered further education and vocational training with significant literacy and numeracy problems, Ms Matchett said. As a consequence, they often failed to finish courses and their employment prospects were much reduced.

Ms Matchett said a multi-agency approach was needed to help schools to support, motivate and retain disaffected young people.

“Schools cannot do everything on their own; they need the support of many agencies. Experience from inspection shows that uncoordinated and poorly managed support can be more disruptive than helpful,” she said.

Nonetheless, she said, there had been evidence from the past two years to show that some schools had benefited considerably from a multi-agency approach to disadvantage.

There were parts of Northern Ireland characterised by extreme social disadvantage and related low levels of attainment, where there was a lack of conviction that education and training, on their own, could help young people to progress, she said.

“Low- and under-achievement, particularly among young males, and the need to ensure that all school leavers and young people are numerate and literate, are major challenges for those involved in education and training, particularly – but not only – in these areas,” she said.

Launching her report before an audience of representatives from the education, training and youth sectors, Ms Matchett said: “We need to move beyond thinking of education as successful insofar as it helps young people do well in exams, and we need to explore further how education can help motivate young people to contribute positively to their communities.”

There was also a need to develop a greater trust in education and training as ways of helping young people to overcome disadvantage.

“Having trust on all sides means that we are working together for the best outcomes for the young person,” she said.

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