The new decade, new approach deal paves way for devolved Executive to resume in Northern Ireland

10 January 2020
The New Decade, New Approach Deal has been tabled in Northern Ireland as talks at Stormont House are set to resume. The result is power-sharing returning to the region after three years of political deadlock.

Parentkind welcomes the news, and hopes that a way forward can be found which would reassure parents and families who seek the best outcomes for the next generation, and end the uncertainty as their children progress through the school system.

What would the deal mean for schools and education?

The deal proposes a focus on several public services, including education. It will tackle the ongoing teachers’ industrial dispute and school funding issues as well as begin a holistic review of the education system.

Key details quoted for the plan are:

  • The Executive will urgently resolve the current teachers’ industrial dispute. It will also address resourcing pressures in schools, ensuring that every school has a sustainable core budget to deliver quality education.
  • The Executive will establish an external, independent review of education provision, with a focus on securing greater efficiency in delivery costs, raising standards, access to the curriculum for all pupils, and the prospects of moving towards a single education system.
  • To help build a shared and integrated society, the Executive will support educating children and young people of different backgrounds together in the classroom.
  • The Executive will establish an expert group to examine and propose an action plan to address links between persistent educational underachievement and socio-economic background, including the long-standing issues facing working-class, Protestant boys.
  • The Executive will deliver a new special educational needs framework to support young people with special needs to achieve their full potential.

The Executive would also draw up an action plan for change that will ensure all children and young people, regardless of background, are given the best start in life, and deliver an enhanced approach to careers advice, curriculum, training and apprenticeships to enhance employability.

Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith has said: We have had three years of talks, finally there is good deal on the table that all parties can support and on that basis I have tonight written to the speaker of this Assembly and asked him to recall it tomorrow to enable the restoration of the executive before the weekend.”

Political parties in Northern Ireland have accepted the deal. Peter Weir MLA has been appointed Education Minister. See the BBC’s Stormont deal summary.