Representatives from the Controlled Schools’ Support Council (CSSC) will give evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on Wednesday 5 December, as part of its inquiry into education funding.
Speaking in advance of the session, CSSC Chief Executive Barry Mulholland said,
“I am pleased that the Committee has invited CSSC to give evidence on behalf of controlled schools, which make up Northern Ireland’s largest and most diverse education sector. I will be in attendance alongside Heather Murray, Board member and Principal of Millington Primary School in Portadown.
“CSSC acknowledges that budgets are finite, but the reality is that many schools are struggling to deliver the essential curriculum to enable over 140,000 pupils in their care to meet their potential.
“Education must continue to be valued and given the priority it deserves across all government departments; after all, our schools are educating the next generation.
“Principals from controlled schools tell us they are reaching a tipping point.
“Pupil numbers have increased in recent years while education budgets have reduced in real terms. Inflationary increases are having to be met from cuts to provision, leading to frustration amongst school leaders and teachers.
“School leaders are finding that despite their best efforts to operate within allocated budgets, they can no longer do this without negatively impacting upon the educational provision in their schools.
“Schools are now faced with making even more cuts, despite best efforts to stay within allocated budgets.”
CSSC has learned from controlled school leaders that the reduction in school budgets are resulting in:
- a reduced curriculum offer
- significantly larger classes
- reduced planning and preparation time for teachers
- a reduction in teaching and non-teaching staff across schools
- a reduction in extra and co-curricular activities.
In many cases, parents are being asked to contribute more financially and in terms of school supplies and services.
Barry Mulholland continued,
“The bottom line is that there is currently insufficient funding for education in Northern Ireland and this is a systemic issue.
“CSSC will be taking this opportunity to highlight schools’ concerns about area planning, special educational needs provision and the impact the restrictive budget is having on the mental health and wellbeing of staff."