Covid and the Importance of Data and Information

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Numbers, information, stories – during and after this crisis we need to know which children have been reached by services as well as those children who have not been reached or have disengaged from services.  This can only be achieved through recording and capturing high quality data which is informed by the direct lived experiences of children and young people.

I am pleased that a monitoring process will be established across a broad range of education services, which must include schools and must record which children are attending.  Additionally, as we emerge from this pandemic we must have a clear understanding of where children are with educational attainment and experience so that teachers and schools are able to prepare.  We need accurate, reliable data on the numbers of children regularly participating in distance learning through formal channels, measures of their attainment and on the quality of engagement in these channels.

Of course, education is not the only service for which we need good high quality data.  It is important to know how Covid has impacted children, young people, their families as well as the broader community in every aspect of their lives.

Another area that is causing me concern is around the quantity, and in particular the quality, of direct engagement between government and children and young people, or rather the lack of it.  I have seen how hard everyone is working to manage this terrible situation.  We should not forget that children and young people are also experiencing this terrible situation and they too need to be able to know that they are being considered by our political leaders and those responsible for their education, safety and well-being.  We have seen many examples of our leaders communicating with young people from around the world.  In Northern Ireland we can, and should do it so much better.