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Standards being challenged by budget cuts - Principal

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

EDUCATION standards in schools across Dungannon are set to be further challenged by another round of budget cuts, a local primary school principal has claimed.

For the 2018-19 school year, the amount of money schools are to receive per pupil has been cut further with the Department of Education warning that there is no money left to pay for additional pressure school face in the coming year.

Currently, the cast majority of primary and nursery schools receive 2,004.71 per pupil. Next year that amount will be reduced to 1,998. Post primary schools will also receive less per pupil.

In 2018-19 post-primary schools will be awarded 2,055.69 per pupil compared to 2,062.19 this school year.

These cuts are placing a real strain on resources and as such the challenge to maintain, not improve, standards is increasing, according to the Principal of Bush Primary School, Pauline McAlister.

Speaking to the Courier, Pauline said: "Many schools within Northern Ireland have faced significant financial strain for several years and the latest announcements from the Department of Education and Education Authority show this is not only to continue, but indeed worsen.

“Teaching Unions and schools across Northern Ireland have been speaking for several years of how this continual reduction in funding is negatively impacting on the education of pupils and the welfare of both teaching and support staff.

“In many schools, class sizes and the number of children presenting with additional needs are increasing.

“Like many schools, the Board of Governors of Bush Primary School and Nursery Unit are faced with major decisions and challenges in the months ahead in order to continue to maintain and provide the level of education which our children deserve. This has always been and continues to be our priority.

“Those who are in a position to address this serious funding issue must also make this their priority."

Her concerns have been echoed by the Ulster Unionist Party's education spokesperson, Rosemary Barton.

"We are now in an unfortunate position that schools will be seeing a reduction of more than 6 per pupil in 2018-19. In isolation this figure does not seem significant.

“However for large schools this figure can total in the thousands. Essentially this reduction in money means schools will further struggle to provide sufficient resources for pupils and staff.

"Northern Ireland should be under no illusion that this latest crisis in a string of ongoing problems is the result of Sinn Fein collapsing the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2017.

“Without a devolved Government for over a year, our Departments have been crippled. We want to see a devolved Government that puts the interests of the people first."

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