Trevor Lunn MLA said: “Government needs to invest to break the trend of underachievement amongst children from lower income backgrounds.
“Putting more resources into early years education and after school homework clubs will help children reach their potential.
“It is widely acknowledged by everyone in the educational sector and beyond that investment in the 0-6 age range will pay dividends in achievement terms in the later school years. We cannot expect to break the cycle of poor results at GCSE if pupils are transferring from primary to secondary without adequate literacy and numeracy skills. The damage is already done, they cannot catch up and the problems begin at the earliest stage, age 2-6.
“Children must be given the opportunity to develop fully their potential and whilst this may not always reflect in exam results, the figure of 40% non-achievement of 5 GCSE passes is a shameful indictment of the current system.
“We must invest in our future to help boost our economy in the long term. We need swift action from government to help boost achievement amongst young people.”