LEADING ENNISKILLEN school principals have warned that the education system here is at ‘crisis point’ because of funding shortfalls.
St Fanchea’s head, Maurice Collins, speaking at the college’s annual prizegiving told students and guests that there was a distinct possibility that the vast majority of schools that are financially viable would definitely be forced into a deficit budget position by the end of the academic year.
He urgently called for an ‘immediate injection of block funding from Westminster’ to avert this ‘crisis’.
Mr Collins pointed the finger at our politicians declaring that the most vulnerabe children would be directly affected by the current chaos in the North’s finances and the ongoing political stalemate at Stormont.
“Let everyone be clear, our politicians are letting us and our children down while the power sharing executive is not in place and it is imperative that everyone in our community, irrespective of their political affiliations, let our politicians know that they are letting us and our children down.
“It is a damning indictment on our society that ‘party politics’ is holding to ransom, our whole society, as well as the systems and services that our communities are entitled to.”
He said schools like St Fanchea’s had no more scope, no more ‘wriggle room’ to generate further savings.
“In reality, if schools are expected to work within the budgets projected by the Education Authority for the coming financial year, we simply will not be able to sustain the academic and vocational curriculum that our pupils have a fundamental basic right to have in order to meet their learning needs.”
“The ‘elastic band’ is at breaking point,” said the college principal.
Mr Collins went to say that across the North, morale across school teachers and support staff is suffering as they faced an extremely worrying period of uncertainty over their futures.
Simon Mowbray, principal of Devenish College concurred with Mr Collins’ assessment saying that he had seen a 10% reduction in his budget in real terms in the last five years.
“Like all schools we have had to curb spending in many areas to stay within tolerance. We are seeing cuts being made to additional resources for our most vulnerable children.
“Budget reductions and lack of strategic leadership from the Department, the Education Authority and politicians is leaving school leaders isolated and is risking a generation of students becoming severely disadvantaged.”
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