Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness provided an update on the implementation of the social investment fund in North Belfast during today’s Question Time. Three projects worth £5.4m have received letters of offer with a further offer for an increasing community services cluster on the way. The funding will have a major impact on communities given that people were asked to come forward with their ideas on how to improve community life - “that covers a wide range of issues, such as education, young people and infrastructure projects and how we can improve and refurbish existing properties in different parts of the zones that exist throughout the North”. After overcoming initial teething troubles it won’t be long before people begin to see the physical changes taking place in their communities.
Roy Beggs asked the deputy First Minister how the Delivering Social Change signature project for improving literacy and numeracy has achieved its goal of helping struggling children in primary and post-primary schools. The project “has provided up to two years of additional teaching resource to support schools in their work to improve educational outcomes for our most disadvantaged children and young people” and positive feedback has been received about the impact of the support. The evaluation of the programme has revealed that 76% of primary schools stated that it has been successfully implemented for literacy and numeracy support. In the post-primary sector, 68% of schools stated that it had been successfully implemented for GCSE English, and 76% for GCSE maths. A full report by the western region's education authority on the first year's implementation of the programme has been finalised and will be published later this month.
The Minister also fielded questions on the Summer Camp Programme 2015, Gender Equality Strategy, the strategy to improve the lives of people with disabilities and funding for organisations in the women’s sector. During topical questions the Minister also answered queries on the Erne Hospital site, Desertcreat Community Safety College and austerity measures.