Mathison welcomes education report but says change only possible if Minister in post

Alliance Education spokesperson Nick Mathison MLA has welcomed the publication of the independent review of education but added effective change for our children and young people is only possible with an Education Minister in post.

Education Nick Mathison

Mr Mathison was speaking following the launch of the report, which was brought about as part of the New Decade, New Approach agreement.

“This report has confirmed what many of us already know – our education system has been underfunded for many years and that significant structural reform is needed,” said the Strangford MLA.

“It is welcome to see the emphasis put on investment in education and acknowledgement radical reform is needed to ensure our children and young people receive the best education possible.

“Alliance has long advocated for a single, integrated education system, delivering equality of opportunity for all, regardless of community and socioeconomic background, but also removing the competitive nature built into our current sectoral system. It was therefore welcome there was a focus on promoting children and young people learning together, and on schools working together to offer inclusive education for all in our communities.

“We also need to tackle division in terms of the experience of children with and without special educational needs (SEN). It was welcome to hear the report’s focus on the need to provide effective support for SEN children – if any of the recommendations need urgent action, it is this one, giving those in need of it access to the support they require now.

“It was particularly welcome to see the acknowledgement of the pressing need to reform our transfer system and cap the number of children transferring based on academic criteria. We hope this will act as a first step towards the removal of academic selection at primary school age in its entirety.

“However, many of these recommendations are only possible with an Education Minister in post. Once again, we are left in a place of inaction due to the DUP holding our government to ransom. This report can bring real transformation within our education system but only if a reformed and properly funded Assembly and Executive is up and running.”