‘Re-assessment needed to tackle GCSE target deficit’ – Rogers

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Friday, September 19th, 2014
SDLP education spokesperson Sean Rogers has said it is unacceptable that over half of children from poorer backgrounds are leaving full-time education without attaining five good GCSE grades.

SDLP MLA Sean Rogers

The South Down MLA was speaking after the Department of Education admitted a Programme for Government target to have 49 per cent of children from poorer families receiving at least five GSCE C grades by 2015 was missed, at 39 per cent, with the department not expecting to make up the shortfall by next year. Speaking to Newry Times, Rogers said: “It’s a serious matter that so many children from poorer families are still leaving school without five good GCSEs. “Although there has been a continued improvement on the overall amount of good GCSE grades, particularly in English, maths and science, it is a worry that the Programme for Government targets are not being met for children on free school meals. “While signature projects have certainly been of benefit in addressing issues at the end of Key Stage 2 and GCSE level, there needs to be targeted intervention early in primary school to begin to address this issue. Proper parental support is also an essential ingredient in this issue. “Likewise, teachers need to have specified professional development. Hopefully, the future reconstituting of the five education and library boards into a single body will have a positive effect,” he continued. “Like any professional industry, teachers need high quality professional development. I’m confident that this can happen in the future, and, in turn, will trickle down to positively affect GCSE results for pupils from a poorer background. Rogers added, “It’s imperative that the department take a holistic approach to tackling underachievement. It’s simply unacceptable that over half of children currently entitled to free school meals are leaving school without five good GSCE grades. “The targets are attainable, if the correct processes are put in place right away.”
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