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(UK) NI: Schools 'unable to meet the diverse needs'/'unprecedented levels of debt'

Nov 27, 2022, Belfast Telegraph: Education department warns of ‘significant implications’ for schools after budget cuts announcement

The Department of Education has said it will take time to access the impact of the Secretary of State’s budget announcement, but has warned that the funding pressures will have “significant implications” for years to come.

Chris Heaton-Harris singled out education as one sector where spending cuts will need to be made going forward, saying there would need to be “significant cuts to its current spending trajectory”.

The department responded saying: “With the growing level of funding pressures the Education sector is facing year on year, the cumulative impact of the funding decisions that will need to be taken across the sector will undoubtedly have significant implications for children and young people in our schools and other education services, both this year and beyond.

“While the announcement of the 2022-23 budget provides the Department with clarity over the financial resources available for the remainder of this financial year, some very difficult decisions will have to be taken,” the Department continued….

“The 2022-23 Budget will enable the Department to provide some additional funding in the current financial year to address rising energy costs and support other inescapable pressures like Special Educational Needs.”

The Education Authority (EA), which has operational responsibility for the education system, had already warned it was facing a £300m [$306M] deficit in its budget while pressure is mounting from teachers who are currently in the midst of industrial action over pay and working conditions….

“School budgets have been subject to relentless cuts for over a decade. They have been forced to pare back their year-on-year spending in order to protect basic funding for the essential staffing and utility costs. This budgetary calamity could be the final nail in the coffin for many schools. We are going to see further staffing cuts with schools being unable to meet the diverse needs of the children and young people in their care. We will also see schools being pushed into

which will threaten their very existence.

“The Secretary of State appears content to allow our children and young people to be educated on the cheap which is not acceptable. Like so many of his predecessors, he is woefully out of touch. Would a local minister be as foolish?”

The NASUWT’s Justin McCamphill called for the Secretary of State to “go back to Westminster and seek proper funding for education in Northern Ireland”.

“We can expect school closures, increased class sizes, cuts to the school day, teacher redundancies and pressure on teachers and support staff to work outside their contracts and Health and Safety legislation,” he said.

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