The Controlled Schools’ Support Council (CSSC) has today, Friday 9 March, welcomed the publication of the Northern Ireland budget including the extra allocation of funds for education but raises concerns that it may well fall short of meeting the financial needs of schools.
When essential extra funding allocated to the Department of Education over the course of this financial year is considered, this could mean the education budget for 2018/2019 is same amount of money it ended the 2017/2018 year with.
To put this in context the education budget has decreased year on year since 2011/2012 and it is evident through our communications with schools that they cannot take any further steps without seriously compromising the education and welfare of the children.
CSSC Chief Executive Barry Mulholland said
“While CSSC welcomes the setting of the budget and much appreciates the increase of funding allocated to education, it still falls substantially short of meeting the financial needs of schools.
“CSSC acknowledges the 4.3% increase in the budget, but would seek clarification as to whether it is an increase on last year’s starting budget or is it an increase on the actual spend within education in 2017-2018.
“If it is the former, then the pressures and challenges facing schools will be exacerbated.
“Our education system requires proper investment after year on year decreases in real terms on school budgets.
“Many schools have told us that the reductions thus far have led to larger class sizes, fewer teachers, cutbacks to educational resources, extracurricular activities and provision for pupils with additional needs.
“All of this impacts on the quality of education offered in schools and directly on the learning experiences of children and young people.
“Permanent Secretary Derek Baker and EA Chief Executive Gavin Boyd indicated at our AGM last night that schools should have notification their individual budgets by next week. This is a positive step forward after delays in last years’ allocations and will help schools to plan for the incoming financial year.”