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Systemic challenges in education need addressed

The Controlled Schools’ Support Council has today, Wednesday 26 June, called for action to be taken to address the systemic challenges being faced by Northern Ireland’s schools.

Speaking as the school year comes to an end, Barry Mulholland, Chief Executive of the Controlled Schools’ Support Council (CSSC) warned of the impact that being required to function within inadequate and reducing budgets is having on school leaders.

“Schools continue to face hard decisions relating to what curriculum they can offer, what staff they can afford to employ and, in some cases, how they are going to keep the lights on,” he said.

“While finance is one of the priority areas that needs to be addressed, Principals are also having their resilience tested by societal perceptions of the education system.  Schools are seen as a panacea for a wide range of community ills, all of which are expected to be tackled with little or no resource.”

Increasingly bureaucratic processes taking educators away from the core focus of teaching and a real feeling that teaching isn’t valued are additional factors that schools are having to deal with.

The number of children presenting with complex special educational needs is on the rise, which is affecting both special schools, many of which are at capacity, and mainstream schools, which require resources to support pupils.

Mr Mulholland continued, saying “Controlled school leaders strive to provide high quality education for the 143,669 pupils who walk through their doors every day and help them to meet their potential.

“They want to demonstrate the learning, growth and development of their pupils as individuals and the added value provided by great teachers in our schools.  I pay tribute to the dedication and professionalism of Principals, teachers and Boards of Governors who make this happen.

“The importance of education cannot be underestimated and we must always have children and young people’s interests at the centre of it.  CSSC supports nearly half of Northern Ireland’s schools and we continue to work in collaboration with key stakeholders to address systemic challenges, as well as raise the profile and value of education."