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Education and skills

Education is a key investment for society as a whole and for the economy in the future. Improving schools will allow us to tackle a divided society and create a prosperous economy. As a result, it is vital decisions are made based on what is best for our children, not what is best for political parties.

Currently, Northern Ireland spends more on the school system as a whole than anywhere else in the UK. But less of this makes it through to the frontline than anywhere else. Money is tied up in over administration and the provision of partly empty buildings.

Integrated education is a key part of Alliance's plans. We believe integrated education is important because:

  • It helps us break down division in Northern Ireland by allowing children from all different backgrounds to learn together.
  • It allows us to improve education by standardising quality and allowing us to address inequalities.
  • It allows us to re-direct money from empty buildings directly into the classroom.

We will set a minimum target of 20% of children in integrated education by 2020, backed up by legislation which will make it easier to establish new integrated schools and help other schools to integrate. Our 10-point plan for Integrated Education can be read here.

Our other plans to improve education in Northern Ireland include:

  • Fast-tracking the establishment of a NI-wide Education and Skills Authority which will create a streamlined management for education provision across the region. This will save money and make it easier to offer the same level of support to all pupils.
  • Rebalancing the education budget towards early and primary education, because it is proven that these are the most important factor in determining how well a child will do in later life. We'll back this up with an Early Education and Care Bill.
  • Continue to build consensus on what should replace the 11+ given that the unregulated transfer tests have failed.
  • Using the Entitlement Framework to ensure that all pupils have access to the same mix of learning opportunities and careers guidance.
  • Providing additional resources to children with learning disabilities to ensure they can reach their potential.
  • Piloting a targeted program for numeracy and literacy in schools.
  • Prioritising community relations and contact between different religions in schools.

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