Minister O’Dowd backs new plans for care into education

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The North Eastern Education and Library Board, in conjunction with the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, assisted by Voices of Young People in Care (VOYPIC) held a conference recently at Antrim Board Centre, entitled ‘Education into Care and Care into Education’.

The conference was opened by Education Minister John O’Dowd who reinforced the importance of Personal Education Plans (PEP) in relation to improving better outcomes for children who are looked after.

Mr O’Dowd explained: “A few months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting with a group of young people in care. They shared with me their experiences of education, some good, some not so good. They also gave me some ideas on how things could be improved and what was important to them. I am committed to promoting the value of education for all these young people.”

and to ensure that they achieve their full potential and today is another step towards ensuring that looked-after children benefit from the educational opportunities on offer.

A group of looked after children were central to the planning and hosting of the conference where they showed a DVD they had made about their educational experiences. Their message is very clear – it is essential to ‘keep the person in the PEP’ (personal education plan).

The event was well attended by delegates from social work, schools, board officers, and a range of other agencies. The conference provided the opportunity for meaningful dialogue between the agencies and professionals who work together to improve outcomes for children who are looked after.

A board spokesperson said: “On behalf of the North Eastern Board, I would like to thank the partnerships we work with - the Northern Health and Social Care Trust and Voices of Young People in Care, and all the other agencies who provide invaluable support. I would also like to thank everyone for attending this event and for their very worthwhile contributions – all aimed at ensuring our young people receive the education and support they need to help them reach their full potential.”