SDLP Education Spokesperson Daniel McCrossan has said that the current education system is failing young people in the North.
He was speaking ahead of the SDLP Spring Conference this weekend where a discussion on education will take place.
West Tyrone MLA Mr McCrossan said:
“In the time I have served as the SDLP’s Education Spokesperson I have continually conveyed the frustration of principals, teachers, parents and pupils at the current state of education in the North. While our staff make the most of the difficult conditions and many of our pupils and students go on to achieve great things, this is unfortunately not the case for everyone and it needs to be addressed.
“Never have the problems in education been clearer than during the coronavirus pandemic. The failure of successive DUP Education Ministers to lead from the front resulted in schools and the lives of our children being left in disarray. When new challenges appeared the Ministers and their department were slow to react and sometimes didn’t react at all. Some of their ham-fisted interventions actively made things worse. Simply put, it was chaos and as we begin to emerge from the pandemic we don't even have a proper plan in place to help children recover.
“Revitalising our education system will require significant investment, across the North many schools are working in portacabins while waiting for new builds to be started or completed. We also need to see a greater focus on providing Irish medium education and schools where pupils of different backgrounds learn together to meet demand. Parental choice needs to be at the heart of our education system so that each child can have the best experience possible.
“Educational underachievement is still a huge issue in our schools and we must ensure that whatever part of the North you live in everyone has the opportunity to receive a good education and reach their full potential. These concerns have been repeated on numerous occasions over the years and still Ministers and the department drag their feet.
“Our school community and parents are not asking for much, all they want is a decent education for children and the facilities to provide it, ensuring that is the least we can do. Lessons must be learned from the failures of the past few years so that we can rebuild our education system post-pandemic and ensure that every child has the chance to achieve their very best.”