Teachers are the lynchpin in helping break the cycle of social disadvantage and academic achievement, according to a Ballymena principal.
Lexie Scott, head of Gracehill Primary and a former President of Northern Ireland’s biggest locally-based teaching union, the Ulster Teachers’ Union, was responding to a new report from the Education and Training Inspectorate aimed at closing the attainment gap between those most and least disadvantaged.
He said the report is now being circulated to all post primary schools to follow best practice initiatives identified in 11 schools which took part in a pilot, among them St Mary’s College, Portglenone.
It will be used by the ETI to support other schools with high free school meal entitlement levels to raise standards.
Mr Scott went on: “The Education Minister launched this report recently and congratulated the schools which, using best practice, improved student outcomes. But it must be stressed that it is the teachers who are at the heart of this.
“It is the teachers who deliver the curriculum, who lead the classes, who inspire and support the children and the role they play cannot be over-emphasised. But they need the resources and the support,” said Mr Scott.
He added: “This report shows that with the correctly targeted resources and use of best practice it is possible for attainment to improve and we would congratulate the teachers involved in the 11 schools which have shown successful outcomes.
“It is laudable that the Minister is dedicated to improving educational attainment and closing the gap between the most and least socially disadvantaged children, but we would urge him always to remember the crucial role that our teachers play in all this and congratulate and support them too.”