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Extra £10m funding for NI schools

Education Minister John O''Dowd, who announced the news on Thursday.

A further £9.9m has been announced by Education Minister John O'Dowd to help post-primary schools provide additional courses required under the Entitlement Framework.

Thursday, 21 February 2013
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From September on, when the framework becomes statutory, schools will have to provide access to an increased number of courses in a bid to benefit all pupils aged 14-19 in their local area.

The department has been providing additional funding for the Entitlement Framework since 2008, contributing to the extra costs associated with planning and delivering more curriculum subjects.

Funding was due to be phased out by the end of the 2013/14 financial year, but additional resources have been found by Minister O'Dowd to allow the support to continue until the following year.

The Minister said that he is committed to reducing underachievement and to closing the continuing attainment gap in education.

"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," Mr O'Dowd said.

"Each school must continue to work towards the full requirements of 24 courses at Key stage 4 and 27 at post-16, as this is what every pupil in every post-primary school is entitled to have access to. Enhanced course offerings will help support our young people as they develop into the employees, employers and entrepreneurs of the future."

The Ulster Teachers' Union has welcomed the extra funds.

Avril Hall Callaghan, from the union, said: "While we have always supported the introduction of the Entitlement Framework, this money will go some way towards alleviating the pressures being faced by schools as they work towards this new system.

"Introducing new courses, for instance, means that teachers may have to 'retrain' or attend courses to up-skill. Although technology, such as video conferencing, could facilitate the teaching of some courses, most schools cannot afford it. They face a big enough challenge finding the financial resources to replace outdated computers."

Ms Hall Callaghan added that few schools will have the capacity to deliver the Entitlement Framework alone - and will have to work with local Further Education colleges.

"All this involves extra expense," she said.