Meeting the needs of our young people and the economy is vital – O’Dowd

Date published: 24 February 2016

More than 300 post-primary principals and careers teachers will attend one of two Curriculum and Careers Conferences over the next two days.

The conferences, organised by the Department of Education, will include presentations on the curriculum, careers education, skills in demand, post-16 options to meet that demand, and best practice identified through inspections.

Speaking as conference got underway, Minister O’Dowd said:

“Since I took up this post in 2011, I set out to shape the education system by putting pupils first. My vision has been for an education service that ensures that all our young people receive a high-quality education which both enriches their lives and grows the economy.

“It is important that the balance between the needs of our young people and the needs of our economy remains in focus and that is why having the right curriculum to meet that balance is vital.

“We have strong leadership within the education system and teachers that can inspire pupils and raise their aspirations as well as educational standards. I hope these events will be an opportunity for further discussion on how we can use the resources available to us to better serve our young people."

During the event, a new accreditation scheme recognising schools that are meeting the requirements of the Entitlement Framework was also launched.

Speaking about the scheme, Minister O’Dowd continued:

“Ten years ago, the opportunities available for pupils depended very much on the school they attended with some schools offering as few as six courses while others offered their pupils up to 30 courses.

“The Entitlement Framework is about guaranteeing every learner in every post primary school the same opportunity to access a broad and balanced curriculum, with clear progression pathways, therefore enhancing their life chances. All schools are now required to deliver this.

“It is a system that breaks down barriers, encouraging schools and further education colleges to deliver courses in collaboration with one another; enabling children from different schools, selective and non-selective and across different sectors, to be educated together in the same classroom.

“Very well done to all those schools for their effort in ensuring our young people are offered those opportunities.”

Notes to editors: 

1. The conference events will be held on Wednesday 24 Feb, 2-5pm at Loughry College, Cookstown and on Thursday 25 February, 2-5pm Ramada Plaza, Shawsbridge.

2. The Entitlement Framework (EF) is the department’s policy that entitles all learners at KS4 (Yr 11-12) and post-16 (Yr 13-14) access to a minimum number of courses, including a balance of ‘general’ and ‘applied’ subjects.

3. A general qualification is one where knowledge, understanding and skills are developed within a subject context; whereas with an applied qualification, the knowledge, understanding and skills can be developed through practical demonstration and /or within a context related to employability.

4. The assessment arrangements for general courses are designed to enable learners to demonstrate the level of their knowledge, understanding and skills mainly through written tasks. The learning and assessment focus is set within a subject-specific context.

5. The assessment arrangements for applied courses are designed to enable learners to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and skills through practical demonstration and/or within a context related to employability.

6. From September 2015, the requirement is 24 courses at key Stage 4 and 27 at post-16, with one third applied and one third general courses.

7. The number of schools offering 21 courses including 1/3 applied subjects has increased by 89% at KS4 and 78% at post-16 since 2006.

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