Weir welcomes reopening of Sure Start and youth services

Weir welcomes reopening of Sure Start and youth services

Date published: 25 March 2021

Education Minister Peter Weir has welcomed the phased return of Sure Start and youth services.

Update on Youth and Early Years

The Executive has given approval for initial steps to be taken in resuming some early years programmes, including Sure Start, and youth services allowing the gradual re-opening of programmes to support children and young people who may be facing disadvantage.

Welcoming the Executive’s decision today, the Minister said:

“The COVID pandemic has created many pressures on families and it is clear that these pressures are having greatest impact where disadvantage already exists.  I have therefore been focussed on the reopening of vital programmes such as Sure Start and the Pathway Fund which provide much needed support to children.

“The restart of services must, of course, be balanced with the risk of transmitting the COVID virus.  Therefore, services will initially be open where children only are attending.  We will, of course, seek to reopen all services, as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Turning to the provision of youth services, the Minister continued:

“There is no doubt that the current restrictions are having a negative impact on many young people. Issues such as growing mental health problems, increased drug taking and anti-social behaviour are of great concern.

“My proposal is to take the first steps in a phased and carefully managed reopening of youth services.”

The Minister concluded:

“It will be for the Executive as a whole to consider any further phased re-opening of these areas as part of the ongoing review of restrictions.”

Notes to editors: 

1. The first step to a phased return of generic youth work will involve both statutory and voluntary youth work settings operating in line with any overarching restrictions permitted within educational settings relating to outdoor or indoor gatherings, group sizes, social distancing, face coverings and hand washing. 

2. In addition to detached (working where young people choose to congregate) and outreach youth work (engages young people with a view to support them in youth work centres) will recommence.

3. The Education Authority is leading on Youth Restart and will be publishing more details for youth work providers on its Youth Online platform ( link opens in a new window / tab) )

4. Follow us on Twitter @Education_NI and our Facebook page, Department of Education Northern Ireland.

5. Media enquiries to the Department of Education Press Office at:

6. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

Remote Learning to Continue Until March

Remote learning to continue until March – Weir

Date published: 28 January 2021

Education Minister Peter Weir has said that schools will continue to provide remote learning until at least 5 March.

Schools to continue remote learning until March

This extends the previously announced reopening date by two weeks after the February half-term break.

Special schools and childcare / childminding will continue to remain open for staff and pupils and the current restrictions on youth service provision will also remain in place for this extended period.

The Minister said: “I have consistently stated that, no matter how good the quality of remote learning being provided, the removal of face to face learning will have a negative impact on children’s educational experience, with a disproportionate impact on disadvantaged groups and vulnerable children. Any interruption to normal schooling is only done with the greatest level of reluctance.

“My priority is to return to full time face-to-face teaching for all as soon as possible. The aim would be to start face to face teaching in early March, but all actions on resumption will be dependent on the wider public health situation.”

An announcement on alternative awarding arrangements for key examination years is expected shortly.

Continuing the Minister said: “It is important that those year groups engaged in learning for key qualifications  must be prioritised in any consideration of plans for schools returning.  They must have the maximum opportunity to acquire the knowledge, skills and understanding required for progression to the next stage of education, employment or training.

“Given the disruption to our children’s education, educational recovery is critical to their future.   I will be seeking resources to enable investment in catch up to allow children to make up for the loss of face to face teaching over these two academic years, and welcome the agreement in principle by the Executive to this. Core loss to the foundations of education, if missed now, could have a longer detrimental impact on children.”

In relation to school transport and Free School Meals the Minister said that the processes in place will continue.

He said:  “Where children can use alternative means of travelling to school they should do so and the wearing of face coverings for post primary pupils on school transport will continue to be mandatory.  

“For children entitled to free school meals, payments in lieu of free school meals will continue to apply to any child entitled to free school meals who is learning remotely and cannot attend school as a result of the restrictions.”  

Notes to editors:

  1. Follow us on Twitter @Education_ni
  2. Media enquiries to the Department of Education Press Office at
  3. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service For Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

Youth Restart & Recent Executive Announcements-26 November 2020

Youth Restart & Recent Executive Announcements

An update from Paul Deighan | Head of Regional Youth Services (Interim)

With reference to recent announcements regarding restrictions by the Northern Ireland Executive in relation to Covid-19, I write to confirm that as part of these announcements Educational Settings are exempt. Guidance issued within the Youth Restart and New School Day documents remains the current practice and procedures when working with children and young people in educational settings (i.e. youth settings). Guidance relating to Education Visits (activities or trips away from your normal delivery location) remains the same which are currently on pause at this time.

Outlined below is the current stage relevant to the Youth Work Setting for your reference.

If a change in restrictions is introduced which directly impacts the delivery of Youth Services, I will write to you again outlining any potential change.

Yours Sincerely,

Paul Deighan | Head of Regional Youth Services (Interim)

Youth Service |Children and Young People’s Service


Youth Work Setting Commencement Present Status
Generic Youth


1st October 2020 Operational
Centre Based Youth Provision (Part Time & Full Time) 1st October 2020 Operational
Area Based Project


1st October 2020 Operational
Specialist Provision

(Including Individual Work)

March 2020 Online Only Online
Online & Remote Access Provision March 2020 Operational
International Youth Work March 2020 Online Only Online
Outreach Work Stood Down Not Operational
Detached Provision April 2020 – Only as part of an agreed response plan to support vulnerable Children and young people led by EA Only as part of an agreed response plan to support vulnerable children and young people led by EA
Residential Work Stood Down Not Operational
Staff Development & Training April 2020 Online Only Online
Training for Young People April 2020 Online Only Online