25/03/2019

UUP: NI Schools Set To Overspend By £32m

An Ulster Unionist MLA has claimed that schools in Northern Ireland are set to exceed their budgets by over £30 million by the end of the current financial year.

Rosemary Barton MLA said she was informed of the overspend after requesting information from the Education Authority. It comes after savings and additional income of over £10m were added to the pot.

The Education spokeswoman said: "These are hugely worrying figures as it shows that schools are having to spend money that they just don't have. As a result a record number of them are now reporting a deficit position.

"Growing pupil numbers and year-on-year tightening budgets are combining to create a perfect storm."

Ms Barton added that the financial pressures facing schools have been building from 2010, and greatly intensified from 2016 onwards. 
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"Schools in recent years have been desperately trying to cut down on costs, including by reducing the numbers of teachers and classroom assistants that they are employing. As a result, class sizes have inevitably begun to swell and that is something I know from my over 30 years in teaching will now only come to the detriment of the young people.

"There is a major challenge in education funding right across Northern Ireland and it's clear that the current model is no longer fit for purpose. Yet in the absence of a local Minister or functioning Assembly the problem will only continue to get worse.

"This is a wholly untenable and unsustainable situation."

The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA called on Secretary of State Karen Bradley to take action to resolve Northern Ireland's political impasse to mitigate the impact on schools.

"She must either force the establishment of a local Executive to get on with the things that matter most to people, or announce her Government's plans for the immediate introduction of Direct Rule," Ms Barton concluded.



(JG/CM)

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