Departments comment on the publication of the Independent Review of Education

Date published: 13 December 2023

The Independent Review of Education has been published today by the Independent Panel appointed by the Department of Education in October 2021.

Department of Education Permanent Secretary, Dr Mark Browne
Department of Education Permanent Secretary, Dr Mark Browne

The Independent Review was a key commitment within the New Decade, New Approach agreement in January 2020.  

The appointed panel has put forward a total of 25 recommendations and made a number of key findings in the report.

The headlines from the report include:

  • Investment in education must be recognised as a social and economic imperative. 
  • Northern Ireland funding is unequitable and unsustainable.
  • Restructuring of education governance and delivery is necessary to improve the educational experience and promote efficiency and sharing. This would include a major reconfiguration of the network of schools. 
  • Reform of the curriculum is needed along with investment in its management. 
  • Further education must play a fuller role in learner development and meeting the needs of the economy. 

Acknowledging the report, Department of Education Permanent Secretary, Dr Mark Browne said: “I want to thank Dr Keir Bloomer and his colleagues Sir Gerry Loughran, Marie Lindsay, Robin McLoughlin and Isabel Nisbet for their commitment and effort over the last two years and the submission of the final report.

“The remit of the report set out a unique and challenging opportunity to consider all aspects of the design, structure and delivery of education in Northern Ireland.

“The recommendations made by the Panel are wide-ranging, far-reaching and signal a significant change to existing policy and service delivery. Implementation of recommendations in the report would therefore require Ministerial direction, Executive agreement and, importantly, immediate additional resources which the Panel has estimated at c£300m.

“The Department will now assess the findings and recommendations and make the necessary preparations to consult widely on the report to inform an incoming Minister and Executive.”

Department for the Economy Interim Permanent Secretary, Ian Snowden added: “I also welcome the Panel’s Report, which reflects the extensive stakeholder engagement, research and analysis which they have carried out.

“The Panel have made a wide range of recommendations that cover all the different parts of our education landscape. The Department will now take time to consider the detail of the Report and the recommendations before considering next steps.”

The report can be accessed at -

Notes to editors: 

The Panel to undertake the Independent Review was appointed by the former DE Minister, Michelle McIlveen, following an open recruitment process. More information on each panel member is available at -

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