Excellence and achievement in education is vital for equality, prosperity and wellbeing. The SDLP is committed to the development of an education system which sees achievement and excellence as something that all of our young people can reach for.

For too long, too many young people have left our schools still lacking basic numeracy and literacy training and with next-to-no training for life or the workplace. Improvements mean tackling, at source, the problems which lead to educational underachievement, be they inside or outside the classroom.

Financial cuts to school have had a drastic effect on the ability of teachers to provide basic materials in our schools - in some areas principals have had to resort to asking parents for financial and other support to ensure schools are adequately resourced.

Our curriculum requires modernisation if we are to compete globally. This should include the introduction of computer coding and modern languages for all children from primary school, the reinstatement of the requirement to take a GCSE in a modern language and the teaching of mathematics to age 18. In addition, life skills such as financial management and mental resilience should be taught from post-primary school on.

Transfer Tests

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced schools to think differently about how they can provide educational services to our young people. It has also had a significant impact on post-primary transfer arrangements.

The SDLP is opposed to academic selection but particularly in the current climate, we fought hard to ensure Education Minister had to accept that we cannot force children, many of whom have missed substantial periods of learning, to gather in large numbers for a test. 

We welcome the belated cancellation of these tests and will continue to fight for a fair and inclusive education system that works for all children.

Further and Higher Education

Universities and FE Colleges are critically important to providing training and skills for our society and economy. As well as providing training for our young people, they attract national and international funding and build close links with research and industry which benefits our entire economy and society.

The SDLP is committed to enhancing financial support for our third level institutions, ensuring that they are resourced to deliver world-class standards in teaching and research. Supporting and enhancing relationships with businesses is also vital in making sure young people who want to stay here for employment are able to do so.

The SDLP remains committed to funding education as a public good, including putting an end to tuition fees.

In addition, the SDLP is committed to the expansion of the Magee campus to 10,000 student places through direct government funding, North South structural funds and further government support.

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