Report Raises Problems At School For Vulnerable Children

The Northern Ireland chief inspector of schools is expected to say vulnerable and low achieving pupils need more help in schools and training organisations. Marian Matchett is due to sum up what her team of inspectors found over two school years.

She will acknowledge the good exam results of many NI pupils but say behind them lie less positive trends. Too many young people still leave school with poor reading, writing and numeracy skills, Ms Matchett will say. In Belfast especially, the achievements are, she will say, unacceptably low.

Mrs Matchett’s report is the result of information gathered in almost 1,500 school inspections. Of major concern are the new problems of obesity, mental health problems and suicide. A joint approach by education, health and social services is needed to tackle them, she is expected to say.

Children who arrive in Northern Ireland with poor or no English need a better support system and the inspector’s report will predict even greater challenges for teachers as the number of immigrants increases.

On the issue of community relations the chief inspector is concerned at the decreasing number of schools taking part in programmes to tackle racial and religious tensions.