On 28 July 2020, Education Minister, Peter Weir, MLA, announced the appointment of an Expert Panel, chaired by Dr Noel Purdy, to examine the links between educational underachievement and social disadvantage. The panel has been established under the ‘New Decade, New Approach’ agreement which set out the requirement for an expert group to examine and address links between persistent educational underachievement and socio-economic background.
Press release can be viewed here
The Terms of Reference for the review can be viewed here
The chair and five panel members are:
Dr Noel Purdy, Director of Research and Scholarship,Stranmillis University College;
Mary Montgomery, Principal, Belfast Boys' Model School;
Kathleen O’Hare, retired Principal, Hazelwood Integrated College and former Principal of St Cecilia’s College;
Joyce Logue, Principal of Longtower Primary in Derry/Londonderry;
Jackie Redpath, Chief Executive, Greater Shankill Partnership and
Professor Feyisa Demie, Honorary Professor, Durham University.
The Expert Panel on Educational Underachievement submitted the Interim Report to the Minister on 31 March 2021.
The report outlines the work undertaken from September 2020 to March 2021. The panel commissioned the National Children's Bureau and Barnardos to engage directly with children and young people to ensure that their voices were heard as part of the engagement process.
The Interim Report also contains high-level analysis of the financial expenditure on “educational underachievement” by government departments and District Councils. Professor Feyisa Demie (Honorary Professor, Durham University) has supported the panel in a research capacity by conducting a “Review of the Existing Data - Challenges and good practice for tackling inequalities”.
During February and March 2021, the panel considered the wide range of quantitative and qualitative oral and written evidence, which it has gathered to determine what areas of policy changes are needed and which will have the greatest impact on educational underachievement.
The Expert Panel is now progressing its work on a Final Report and Action Plan which is due with Minister Weir by 31 May 2021.
The Interim report can be viewed here: