Do 38% of students have to leave Northern Ireland?

CLAIM: 38% of students have to leave Northern Ireland at age 18 for higher education.

CONCLUSION: Most recent data show a third (33.5%) of school leavers continue studies outside Northern Ireland. While public investment policy in further education is a significant factor, others must be considered, such as the desire and ability to take up opportunities elsewhere. Thus it is misleading to say that 38% have to leave; some leave because they wish to. Continue reading Do 38% of students have to leave Northern Ireland?

Has Sinn Fein Education Minister improved outcomes for most disadvantaged?

CLAIM: Since 2011 the Sinn Féin Education Minister John O’Dowd has “improved educational outcomes for the most disadvantaged”, and consequently “58.5% of children receiving Free School Meals (FSM) now obtain 5 GCSEs A*-C, compared to 31.5% previously.”

CONCLUSION: The claim fails to distinguish between students that are eligible for FSM, as opposed to those who actually receive them. However, once corrected for this inaccuracy, it can be substantiated and verified by data from the Department of Education. In fact, there have been even greater improvements in performance among Free School Meal Eligible (FSME) students. Continue reading Has Sinn Fein Education Minister improved outcomes for most disadvantaged?