Do our primary pupils receive least per child?

CLAIM: “For every child coming into school in Northern Ireland, they are getting much less than their counterparts in other regions of the United Kingdom.”

CONCLUSION: ACCURATE WITH CONSIDERATION. Public expenditure on pre-primary and primary education in Northern Ireland is least per child (£3,440; UK average: £4,316) and per head of population (£416; UK average: £473). Meanwhile, Northern Ireland has the second highest level of expenditure on overall education per head of population (£1,453); the situation is better explained by the amount spent per head on education subsidies and n.e.c. categories (£257; UK average: £102). Continue reading Do our primary pupils receive least per child?

Do a third of graduates return to Northern Ireland?

CLAIM: “…a third of young people from Northern Ireland who go to university travel outside Northern Ireland, mainly to the North West of England and Scotland, and only a third of those who graduate return back home.”

CONCLUSION: ACCURATE WITH CONSIDERATION. The claim that “a third of young people from Northern Ireland who go to university travel outside Northern Ireland” is closer to a quarter. Continue reading Do a third of graduates return to Northern Ireland?

Was funding cut for youth work?

CLAIM: The Irish News wrote that a funding cut places hundreds of youth work posts at risk.

CONCLUSION: UNSUBSTANTIATED. There is no evidence of any cut, nor any proposed cut. Yet there is uncertainty about continued funding, for this and other programmes, in light of the composition of a new Northern Ireland Executive (or direct rule governance) after elections in March 2017. Continue reading Was funding cut for youth work?

TheJournal.ie: Did the DUP really never commit to an Irish Language Act?

CLAIM: “The DUP at no point has ever agreed to establish an Irish Language Act with the UK government, with the Irish government, with Sinn Féin or anybody else.”

CONCLUSION: ACCURATE. The St Andrew’s Agreement committed the UK Government to an Irish Language Act, but subsequent legislation compelled the Northern Ireland Executive to produce a strategy (which may or may not include an Irish Language Act). Continue reading TheJournal.ie: Did the DUP really never commit to an Irish Language Act?

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: INACCURATE. 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: ACCURATE WITH CONSIDERATION. 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?