Lyttle questions why it took so long to release education report

Alliance Education spokesperson Chris Lyttle MLA has questioned why it took two years to release a major report which finds academic selection favours children of parents who can pay for private tuition.

The Investigating Links in Achievement and Deprivation (Iliad) report was commissioned by the then Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister in March 2012, before a draft was sent to the Department in 2015. The three-year study was conducted by 10 experts from Queen’s University and Stranmillis University College.

It showed a number of factors have a negative impact on educational achievement, including a system favouring children whose parents have the means to pay for private tuition, a reduction of self-esteem of pupils who fail or do not sit the transfer test and insufficient support for students with special educational needs.

“I have long questioned the former Education Ministers’ approach to post-primary transfer, which this research suggests was flawed at best. The question is also begged as to why the DUP and Sinn Fein failed to publish the report of this three-year study that costs hundreds of thousands of pounds when in the Office of First and deputy First Minister,” said Mr Lyttle.

“This report, which finds access to the best education is too often determined by socio-economic status, should be given the full consideration and response it deserves. Of course now there is no Education Minister in place, we will be unable to push a Minister to take steps to ensure the report’s recommendations are taken onboard and all our children are given the best possible access to education.

“This report adds to the mounting evidence linking educational disadvantage and academic selection. If we are to allow all children to achieve their full potential, we need to approach this matter in an open and inclusive way. A functioning Executive is vital to tackling this issue.”

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