Northern Ireland

O'Dowd to make speech on future of school system

John O'Dowd
Image caption John O'Dowd will make the speech later on Monday

Education Minister John O'Dowd is due to make a major speech at the assembly on the future of schools in Northern Ireland.

It is understood he will address falling pupil numbers, poor exam results and possibly school closures.

It comes as new figures show the number of empty school desks could be as high as 85,000.

The department lost £700m from its budget for the next four years after cuts by Westminster to the block grant.

The review will address that loss and is also part of a bid to drive up education standards.

Mr O'Dowd previously said his department's financial situation means schools will need to share more facilities and that some may close if they are not viable.

The quality of teachers and managers will also be looked at.

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