This seminar was an opportunity to consider the key issues within Education policy in Northern Ireland, particularly surrounding improving attainment and reducing inequalities.
It followed the launch of the development phase of the Education Authority's first Strategic Plan - which aims to help shape the strategic direction of the organisation over the next decade - and the consultation on the Education Authority’s Draft Strategic Area Plan - which aims to ensure that all pupils have access to a broad and balanced curriculum that meets their needs in sustainable schools - and came as the Department of Education concluded its consultation on the Children and Young People's Strategy.
Delegates also discussed the Equality Commission Draft Statement on Key Inequalities in Education and its findings - which noted lower attainment levels for particular groups, such as working class Protestant boys - and the Education Training Inspectorate’s biennial Report - which highlights the achievements and sets out the challenges facing education and training in Northern Ireland.
Further sessions considered how early intervention and community support for families can help to reduce inequalities in these groups, and how school standards can be enhanced to improve attainment - including through improved school leadership and greater school autonomy, collaboration, and the effective use of data.
For this conference speakers and other delegates were an informed group including Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, senior government officials involved in this area of public policy, together with representatives from schools, teachers and parents organistaions, community groups and businesses and employment representatives.