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O’Dowd: Ballymena Pupils have a world of choice available to them

Education Minister, John ODowd, today visited the Northern Regional College to see the work they are doing in support of the Entitlement Framework.
Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Northern Regional College is part of the Ballymena Area Learning Community and is one of several establishments who are working together to deliver on the requirements of the Entitlement Framework (EF). EF which becomes statutory in September 2013 requires schools to provide access to an increased number of courses for every young person between the ages of 14 and 19.

Speaking following the visit, Minister O’Dowd said: “I welcome the opportunity to visit the Northern Regional College today to see for myself some of the courses they are offering in collaboration with local schools. Such courses will help meet the needs, interests and career aspirations of the young people.

“One of my key policies for raising standards and closing the achievement gap is to provide every young person with an entitlement to a much broader and more balanced curriculum from the age of 14 and I am pleased to see the Entitlement Framework working successfully in this area.”

During the visit the Minister met with students from various post-primary schools who are attending courses in engineering, construction and motor vehicle classes at the college.

Continuing the Minister emphasised that collaboration is not an end in itself. He said: “Schools should be planning on the basis that pupils should access most of the curriculum within their own schools, however, that will not always be possible. I recognise the important role that FE colleges play within their Area Learning Communities and the valuable role they can play in the delivery of the curriculum. They can offer state-of-the-art, specialist and technical facilities and industry expertise which can complement, but not duplicate, schools’ own provision.

“Pupils who have the opportunity to study subjects that interest and excite them and that are relevant to their future aspirations, are more likely to enjoy school and gain the qualifications they need to successfully progress into further or higher education, training or employment.”

Last week, the Minister announced a further £9.9 million to help schools fulfil their requirements under the Entitlement Framework. He said: “I recognise the tough financial challenges that schools face and difficult choices they have to make to ensure they are able to deliver a broad and balanced range of courses. That is why I announced this additional funding which will go some way to easing the financial pressures on schools.”

In conclusion, the Minister said: “Every young person should leave education having had the best opportunity to achieve their full potential. They should be equipped with the knowledge, understanding and skills they need as individuals to be effective contributors to society and to the economy.”

Notes to editors:

  1. From September 2013 schools will be required to provide access to at least 18 courses at Key Stage 4.  This will increase to 21 courses by September 2014 and the full 24 by September 2015.
  2. Post-16 requirements will be phased in starting with 21 courses from September 2013 up to the full 27 courses by September 2015.
  3. At both Key Stage 4 and Post-16, at least one-third of all courses must be general and at least one-third applied.
  4. There are 30 Area Learning Communities established across all Board areas.
  5. All post-primary schools are members of an Area Learning Community which maximises the opportunity to meet the needs of pupils across the area.
  6. Further information on Entitlement Framework can found on nidirect website.
  7. The Department of Education has launched a new ‘Education Works’ advertising campaign. The campaign encourages families to play, talk, read and count with their child and to ‘Get Involved Because Education Works’. Watch out for the ads on television, radio and outdoor locations. The campaign highlights the vital role families can play in helping children do well at school and improve their life chances. Visit nidirect website for more information or watch the TV ad on the Department’s YouTube channel.
  8. View photos from the Department of Education in our Flickr collection.
  9. Media enquiries to the Department of Education’s Communications Team on Tel: 028 9127 9207. Out of office hours, contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 99 715 440, and your call will be returned.