Local schools struggling as funding crisis looms large

UNDER pressure school principals have called for urgent action to address the growing crisis in funding in the local education system.
The plea comes after the Education Authority failed to approve over 630 school budget plans.
School principals have had to submit three-year spending plans, covering the years 2017-2020 to the EA. Schools which were unable to show they could stay within their allocated budgets this year had their plans rejected.
Helena Palmer from St Joseph’s College is among the school principals facing significant financial pressure: “Budget allocations to schools have decreased in real terms. Staffing and general running costs have increased and the decisions on where to spend what little is left is becoming increasingly difficult,” she told the Herald.
Funding from the Department of Education for the delivery of the Entitlement Framework was reduced for all post primary schools by 43.5% last August.
Ms Palmer says this has had a significant impact on how her school allocates funds while also ensuring pupils receive access to appropriate curriculum choices that will ensure their future career aspirations and opportunities are being maximised.
“We really require urgent action to address this growing crisis in funding of our education system.
“If these real concerns are not addressed it could have an impact on the learning opportunities that all schools can provide for our young people into the future.”
Ulster Unionist Education spokesman and local MLA Rosemary Barton says the current situation is untenable.
“To say there is a sense of anger and bewilderment from those principals would be an understatement. The problems in our local education system continue to grow by the day. Class sizes continue to swell, subjects are being cut, buildings are becoming increasingly run-down and shortfalls in school budgets now increase year-on-year.
“The frightening thing is that many of these schools have exhausted all reasonable cost reducing measures.
“We need an urgent review of wider education funding as it is clear the current model is increasingly not fit for purpose.”

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