Education Minister launches £11.2m education programme aimed at disadvantaged backgrounds

  • A new £11.2m Engage programme has been announced to provide assistance to schools to address the needs of pupils throughout the year

    The closure of schools throughout Northern Ireland has affected students at all age levels, and re-opening them safely has not been an easy task. Pupils have lost hands-on teaching time with teachers, many haven't been abel to engage well with learn-from-home material, and some re-opened schools have had to close again due to outbreaks.

    Recent statistics have shown that Northern Ireland's education achievement is strongly split along socio-economic background lines. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds have been harshly impacted by the lockdown as they tend to be in bigger classes with poorer budgets, and they frequently don't have equipment to continue learning at home. 

    Education Minister, Peter Weir has now announced new funding for the education sector to help offset the impact of Covid-19. The new Engage programme will help schools secure additional qualified teachers and provide more child-centred one-to-one or small group teaching, and to provide teaching support to disadvantaged students.

    The funding was agreed by the Executive in June 2020 and will be provided to all primary and post-primary schools in Northern Ireland, with a specific focus on schools from disadvantaged backgrounds. A number of schools have also been given funding to run Summer Schools.

    On a visit to Dungannon Primary School, the Education Minister commented on the funding: "There is no doubt that this year has been particularly difficult for teachers, pupils and parents all across Northern Ireland. Along with my Executive colleagues, I am very conscious of the anxiety caused by prolonged school closures during the lockdown period and the potential long lasting impact in terms of pupil achievement."

    "The Engage programme will provide vital assistance to schools as they seek to address the needs of our children and young people during this unique year. I am determined that, during what has been a most challenging time, every pupil in Northern Ireland should receive the support they need to help them engage with learning, to enhance wellbeing to ensure that they can all reach their full potential."

    Source: Written based on press release

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