The Greater Shankill Partnership [“GSP”] is masterminded from the Spectrum Centre.
The Greater Shankill Neighbourhood Renewal Plan was ‘declared’ in 2007.
[NB. It is always important to apply imposing names to these matters.]
Who and what is the ‘Greater Shankill’?
It’s an area of North Belfast, mostly the Protestant bit, though 12% may be Roman Catholic. Its population is 18,028, at the last census.
In the last year that figures are available, the GSP spent £974,000 on wages.
It has produced an “Action Plan” for 2017-2018. This plan has achieved legitimacy because it was approved by the “Greater Shankill Community Convention” and adopted by “the area’s Neighbourhood Partnership”.
So there! When I think of the Convention I think of Revolutionary France. How those delegates in the Spectrum Centre must have questioned the management!
Before examining the plan , let’s examine some statistics.
The percentage seeking jobseekers allowance has increased from 7% in 2003 to 10.8% in 2014. Much greater than the general populace.
Income support has also increased compared to the outside world.
Those in the area achieving Key Stage 1 level 2 or above in maths fell from 92.2% in 2005/6 to 85.4% in 2011/12. The national figure in 2011/12 was 95.8%.
In English, on the same basis, the GSP figure for 2011/12 was 82.3% ; the national figure was 94.8%.
Not so bad , you might think. But consider the next statistic.
At least 5 GCSE passes at A*-C including English and maths. In 2007/08 the GSP figure was 18.9%. This showed a significant improvement to 36.5% in 2012/13. But the national figure that year was 65.9%, almost double.
The GSP don’t even bother with A level statistics.
How many children are we talking about? It would appear that the figure of those of school age is significantly under 2,000, perhaps 1,700.
So, what’s the plan?
Well, this organisation which employs over fifty people and spends nearly one million pounds a year on wages, doesn’t really have one.
Here’s their action plan for 2017/18.
• continue to raise the standards achieved in literacy and numeracy and embed the good practice which has begun.
The Education and Training Inspectorate will monitor, through district inspection activity, the school’s progress on the area for improvement.”
It is truly astonishing that those who were governors of this school in the relevant years, allowed it to sink to a position where the ETI had to intervene.
So let’s wait a year and see what the Spectrum Centre produces for those 1,700 or so children of the deprived Shankill.
Aside from their own salaries and pensions.