Latest Updates

Kids in the waiting room

2 Feb 2021 Ryan MillerRights, Children and Young People, Equality

Koulla Yiasouma, the NI Commissioner for Children and Young People

In Northern Ireland, young people’s rights are underdeveloped. Scope talks with Children’s Commissioner Koulla Yiasouma about why this is – and what should be done.

A lost generation? The plight of the young

29 Jan 2021 Nick GarbuttEmployment, Covid-19

The pandemic has had a devastating impact on young people, with more than a quarter saying it has left them unable to cope with life.

Poverty in the UK

27 Jan 2021 Ryan MillerPoverty, Economy, Covid-19, Welfare Reform, Housing, Universal Credit

Poverty will be a major concern for the Assembly

The UK was struggling to get to grips with poverty before the pandemic. Immediate needs and underlying issues both need to be addressed in any recovery.

Universal Credit: why we must keep the increase

22 Jan 2021 Nick GarbuttSector Issues; Equality; Social Policy; Welfare Reform

It is imperative that politicians and civil society in Northern Ireland exert all the influence they can to preserve the £20 a week increase in Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits, due to expire in April.

Transfer tests are more in the spotlight than ever

19 Jan 2021 Ryan MillerEducation, Equality, Covid-19, Academic Selection

Education Minister Peter Weir

The post-primary transfer debacle appears finally to be over. What could have been a Covid-19 issue has become something more, thanks in large part to the Education Minister.

Mother and Baby Homes - an indictment of an entire society

15 Jan 2021 Nick GarbuttSocial Issues

The Final Report of the Mother and Baby Commission was published this week. It is profoundly disturbing. Both church and state have apologised for their role. But the report is also an indictment of an entire society. 

Holiday camps can tackle holiday hunger and be educational – but there is room to improve

12 Jan 2021 Ryan MillerEquality, Holiday Hunger, Education

Marcus Rashford MBE relied on free school meals - and has done pretty well in life

Feeding hungry children should be uncontroversial. Combining this with activities to develop skills and knowledge sounds like a good idea – and work involving Children in NI shows promise.

Belfast's links to slavery: a shameful legacy

8 Jan 2021 Nick Garbutthistory, Social Issues

In the past few months there have been a series of controversies as historians and researchers have exposed links between historic buildings, monuments and slavery.

Human Rights and Covid-19

7 Jan 2021 Ryan MillerHuman Rights, Education, Equality, Children and Young People

Human Rights Commissioner Les Allamby

The NI Human Rights Commissioner’s latest Annual Statement looks at 2020, the pandemic, and any progress – or not – in the wider rights picture for NI, where children appear to be second-class citizens.

How to train the workforce for the future

18 Dec 2020 Nick GarbuttEconomy

If we are going to build a strong economy in Northern Ireland post pandemic and Brexit we are going to need to have the right workforce to power it.

Stormont should take on loneliness in 2021

14 Dec 2020 Ryan MillerLoneliness, Health and Wellbeing, Health, Mental Health

Covid-19 may have increased loneliness - but loneliness was an issue before the pandemic and, without reform, will remain one even as society returns to normal or something very like it.

The "Wicked Problem" that remains unsolved

11 Dec 2020 Nick GarbuttEducation

England has a severe teaching crisis. For the past seven years it has failed to meet its recruitment targets for new teachers. Its training colleges can only supply 85% of those required for secondary schools.

Transfer tests headed for crunch time

7 Dec 2020 Ryan MillerEducation, Equality, Covid-19, Social Policy, Academic Selection, Transfer Tests

Prof Siobhan O'Neill with Health Minister Robin Swann

Calls to cancel this year’s post-primary transfer tests continue to mount – and the list of barriers to a fair testing process is growing. The Education Minister is gambling on everything going smoothly.

Important lessons from a traumatic year

4 Dec 2020 Nick GarbuttCovid 19 Response

The vaccination programme marks the beginning of the end of the pandemic just as the shortening days herald the end of what has been an unforgettably traumatic year.

Covid-19 has highlighted NI’s lack of support for childcare

2 Dec 2020 Ryan MillerChildcare, Economy, Equality, Sector Issues, Social Policy

Photo by Marcus Spiske on Unsplash

The pandemic has shown once more how important childcare is to many families in Northern Ireland – and why proper help from Stormont is essential.

Pre-school segregation

27 Nov 2020 Nick GarbuttEducation

Stormont’s Education Chair Chris Lyttle said this week: “For an education system to separate children as young as five on the basis of community and religious background is socially and financially flawed.” That’s just the half of it.

The Right to a Home

27 Nov 2020 Nick GarbuttHousing

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín explains her plans to revitalise the Housing Executive. 

Westminster needs to prioritise replacing EU funding

24 Nov 2020 Ryan MillerFunding, Fundraising, Sector Issues, Social Policy, Brexit

Northern Ireland has done pretty well from structural funding (graph from the Institute for Government)

The delay – or complete absence – of a consultation on the planned UK Shared Prosperity Fund is not encouraging. Perhaps this week will bring some news.

Paramilitaries and the pandemic

20 Nov 2020 Nick GarbuttJustice, Social Policy

Here’s a question you thought no-one would ever ask. What impact has the pandemic had on paramilitaries?

To tackle bullying, we must understand it

17 Nov 2020 Ryan MillerBullying, Mental Health, Young People, Children, Education

More than half of young people in Northern Ireland say they have been bullied in the past six months, according to research from the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum.


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