Axe set to fall on school budgets Warning

Thursday, 28 June 2018

DAYS before schools break up for the summer holidays, parents have been warned by local principals of the 'unprecedented' financial pressures facing the education sector and the consequent effect on their children's schooling.
Principals representing cash-strapped schools within the Catholic Maintained, Controlled, Integrated and Irish Medium sectors, have united and sent letters to parents and guardians across the Derry City and Strabane District Council areas in recent days warning of a funding 'crisis' in education.
Signed 'Derry and Strabane principals' the missive details how over the past four years, the amount of funding schools receive has been reduced by 70 per child and calls for an immediate rethink of budgets stressing that the quality of education is suffering.
"This amounts to a considerable reduction in funding when you consider the numbers of children attending our schools. Before this reduction was made, schools were struggling to address the educational and emotional needs of our pupils," the letter states.
The collective group of school heads speak of their "grave concern" over the "inevitable outcome" of these cuts, which, they say include increased class sizes, a reduction in staffing, increased demands on staff, charging for extra-curricular activities and essential maintenance works not being carried out, among others.
The axe falling on budgets, parents were told, is also compounded by the fact that other areas in the UK have "significantly better funding" for education than Northern Ireland even though there is 25 per cent of Northern Ireland suffering poverty whilst the rest of the UK has only 11 per cent.
"Consequently, if funding is not increased we will not be able to continue to deliver the high quality educational standards that we have become accustomed to and which our children have experienced in the past and have a right to expect," the letter warns.
The principals also issued a direct appeal to local politicians to restore the institutions at Stormont to avert the 'crisis' or risk a deterioration of the schooling system.
The letter continues: "If we fail to invest in our children, then we are failing them. We appeal to our politicians to put whatever difficulties they currently have aside and get the Executive up and running again to deal with the current crisis in education.
"As educators, we have always been proud of the high standards that we have been able to deliver in all our schools in Derry and Strabane throughout the years. However, all of this is being compromised and threatened by the lack of financial support and political support that we are being given to run our schools.
"As a group of principals, we feel that you the parents need to be aware of the profoundly negative impact that these cuts are having on your children's education. We would like all of our parents to get behind our schools and to use whatever influence that you might have to encourage our political representatives to move this situation forward."
Appealing for an end to the budget cuts, the principals add: "We need the amount of money that we receive for each child to be restored to its original value so that our schools can continue to deliver high quality education to our children. Our children deserve nothing but the best and anything less is unacceptable."


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