Independent Review of Education

The establishment and delivery of an Independent Review of Education is a key commitment in the New Decade New Approach (NDNA) document, agreed by the main political parties in Northern Ireland in January 2020.  NDNA stated that an independent and external review would be established “with a focus on securing greater efficiency in delivery costs, raising standards, access to the curriculum for all pupils, and the prospects of moving towards a single education system.” 

Terms of Reference

A Terms of Reference for the Review has been agreed by the NI Executive and published by the Education Minister at Independent Review of Education - Terms of Reference.

This is expected to be a fundamental review of the Northern Ireland education system with a focus on quality, equity and sustainability of the system.  This has the potential to radically re-shape education design, delivery and provision – albeit decisions following the Review will be subject to Executive agreement, wider stakeholder consensus and the availability of appropriate funding. 

The Review will consider a wide range of issues linked to the design and delivery of education, including;


  • the education journey and outcomes of children and young people;
  • the support for schools and settings, funding and governance;
  • the system level design, delivery and administration; and
  • a vision of how education should be delivered in Northern Ireland in the 21st century.

The Review will commence once an Independent Panel is recruited and is expected to take a period of 18 months, with an interim report available after 12 months. 

Panel recruitment and membership

The Review Panel will be led by an external independent Chair, appointed by the DE Minister following an open recruitment process. The Chair will be supported by a Vice Chair and three additional panel members, each of which will also be appointed by the DE Minister following an open recruitment process.

The recruitment process for the appointment of the panel launched on 1st March 2021 and is now closed to applications. It is hoped that appointments will be made by early September 2021.

The Review Secretariat can be contacted at

Independent Review of Education - Final Report

The Independent Review of Education panel published its final report on 13 December 2023. This final report, which is the culmination of two years work, outlines key recommendations from the Independent Review of Education.

Key recommendations include the need to prioritise investment in education, promote learner’s learning together, expand early years education, reconfigure the network of schools, simplify the management of education, reform the curriculum and increase the age of educational participation to 18.

The Report consists of three separate (but linked) documents:


  1. Volume 1 is an overview. It describes the task, the priority areas for reform and key recommendations.
  2. Volume 2 provides greater detail. It describes the current strengths, weaknesses and modes of operation of the education system. It sets out the Panel’s rationale for the recommended courses of action. Each chapter of Volume 2 contains a full suite of recommendations, including the key recommendations within Volume 1.
  3. Volume 3 includes a number of Appendices that provide further background information relevant to the Review.

An Irish language version of Volume 1 has been produced. 

A link to the report can be found here.

Back to top