McIlveen announces her priorities for the next regional Area Plan

Date published: 09 August 2021

Education Minister Michelle McIlveen today issued a written statement to the Assembly to outline her priorities for the next regional Area Plan.

Regional Area Plan

The Plan will cover the five year period 1 September 2022 to 31 August 2027.

Proposals which the Minister expects to be addressed include:

  • the issue of primary pupils being taught in composite classes of more than two year groups;
  • dealing with post-primary schools that are failing to provide a broad and balanced curriculum for pupils in years 8-12; and
  • the issue of small sixth forms.

Michelle McIlveen stated: “While there has been some progress in Area Planning since its inception in 2011, significant challenges remain and we need to improve further and at a greater pace.

“As we look forward to the next Area Plan, my principal aim continues to be to give our children and young people the best start in life and to offer every learner an opportunity to achieve their full potential at each stage of development.

“The Plan will help deliver my, and my Department’s, commitment to the New Decade New Approach suite of actions that will contribute to addressing pressures in the Education system.  It will also deliver quick results in terms of improved efficiency and effectiveness of the system – Area Planning is key to addressing this.”

A copy of the statement is available on the Department's website -

Notes to editors: 

  1. The current Area Plan, ‘Providing Pathways - Strategic Area Plan for Schools 2017-2020’ was published by the Education Authority on 2 March 2017.  The timeframe of the plan was extended to 31 August 2022 and it can be accessed using the following link: 
  2. The next Area Plan will cover the five year period 1 September 2022 to 31 August 2027 and will be characterised by three operational plans and a fifth year used to prepare the following Area Plan.
  3. Follow us on Twitter @Education_ni
  4. Media enquiries to the Department of Education Press Office at
  5. 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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