Expert Panel on Educational Underachievement publishes Interim Report

Date published: 07 April 2021

The Expert Panel on Educational Underachievement has published its interim report.

The Panel, established under the ‘New Decade, New Approach’ agreement, is examining links between persistent educational underachievement and socio-economic background.

A wide range of oral and written evidence has been considered by the Panel, to determine what policy changes are needed and will have the greatest impact. They include themes such as

  • Redirecting the focus to Early Years
  • Championing Emotional Health and Well-Being
  • Promoting a whole community approach to education
  • Supporting the professional learning and wellbeing of school leadership

Education Minister Peter Weir said:

“The Educational Underachievement interim report has revealed just how broad the factors are in influencing educational underachievement, and that solutions to the challenge of addressing this issue will be complex and varied.

“The report outlines work recently undertaken including an on-line consultation and engagement with children and young people through groups like The National Children’s Bureau and Barnardos NI.

“As the Expert Panel begin to formulate their final recommendations and costed action plan, it is clear that addressing this long-standing issue will need to be funded.  It will also require leadership, time and effort, and political consensus.”

The Expert Panel is now progressing its work and a final report and action plan is due to be submitted to Minister Weir by the end of May 2021.

Concluding, the Minister said:

“I have been involved in the issue of educational underachievement since 2012 and have been passionate about addressing this persistent problem ever since.

“I know the Expert Panel is determined that this work will bring real change to improve the outcomes for all children and young people, and to help close the attainment gap.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Interim report can be accessed on the DE website: Expert Panel on Educational Underachievement interim report
  2. The chair and 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 and Jackie Redpath, Chief Executive, Greater Shankill Partnership. (Professor Feyisa Demie, Honorary Professor, Durham University as acted in a research capacity to the panel).
  3. The Terms of Reference for the review can be viewed here: Terms of Reference
  4. Follow us on Twitter @Education_ni
  5. Media enquiries to the Department of Education Press Office at
  6. The Executive Information Service operates an out-of-hours service For Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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