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The Minister took to the stage on the Belfast campus alongside education researchers, Dr Stephen Roulston and Dr Matt Milliken to introduce a discussion on the ‘Cost of Division in Northern Ireland,’ a recent Transforming Education paper, which explored of the cost of a divided society and education system.

Minister Baker said: “I am passionate about the subject of education, so it means a lot to me to be here. There are lots of important things I’ve had the privilege of coming here to do in my year as Minister of State, but this is, I think, one of the most important.

"We want to catalyse and cultivate a conversation here, there are lots of difficult decisions to be taken in education and we want this place to move beyond divisions like these which cost us so much. 

“You may have heard the Prime Minister say that education is the closest thing we have to a silver bullet in public policy because it determines the quality of people's lives for a very long time so we are all bought into the idea that education really matters.”

A panel discussion and Q&A followed on this theme and the options for evidence-led policy change. The panel represented a range of organisations and viewpoints and comprised:

  • Mark Magill, Economist at the Ulster University Economic Policy Centre
  • Professor Joanne Hughes, Director of the Centre for Shared Education, QUB
  • Nick Mathison MLA, Alliance Party Education Spokesperson and Chair All Party Group for Parental Engagement in Education
  • Michael McConkey, Head of Area Planning, Education Authority
  • Paul Collins, Head of Public Affairs & Advocacy, Integrated Education Fund
  • Pat Sheehan MLA, Sinn Fein Education Spokesperson and Former Deputy Chair, Education Committee
  • Fergal McFerran, Policy & Public Affairs Manager, Childrens Law Centre

Prior to the seminar, Minister of State, Steve Baker MP, met with the Vice-Chancellor of Ulster University, Professor Paul Bartholomew on Ulster University’s new Belfast campus.

Professor Bartholomew said: “I’m delighted to welcome Minister of State, Steve Baker MP, here to our Belfast campus where he is attending a Transforming Education seminar on the cost of division in education in Northern Ireland. It is an important debate and we are happy to facilitate it here, joined by experts from across the education sector.”

More information on the Transforming Education paper can be found here: