ASCL NI says education budget cuts will undermine future of the province

12 December 2014

ASCL Northern Ireland has written an open letter to Paul Sweeney, DENI permanent secretary, warning that the proposed 7 percent cut to school budgets will fundamentally undermine the life chances of children in the province. Currently 40 per cent of the education budget does not reach schools, the association has pointed out. It is calling on to devolve more funding directly to schools.

Frank Cassidy, ASCL Northern Ireland regional officer, said:

The proposal to solve Northern Ireland’s financial problems by taking away our children’s future life chances is unbelievably short sighted, both for them and for our economic survival. While other jurisdictions have ring fenced funding for education, we are proposing to deprioritise our most precious resource, our children.

Currently only 60 per cent of education funding is available to schools, as opposed to 80 in the rest of the UK. In spite of a funding handicap, our schools have managed to compete successfully UK wide for university admissions and jobs for pupils. What is currently proposed will inevitably undermine every aspect of school life. Costs for additional activities will inevitably be passed on to parents. This will also disproportionately affect lower income families and increase social disadvantage in education.

In practical terms, a 7 per cent reduction will mean:

  • Significant reduction in teachers and support staff and therefore cuts to subject choices at A Level and GCSE

  • Increased competiveness for places in sixth forms

  • Bigger class sizes

  • Loss of minority and specialist qualifications

  • Decreased opportunities for pupils

  • A poorer quality learning environment

ASCL Northern Ireland is calling on the government to end ring fenced funding and to delegate more of the education budget directly to all schools, as it does with the voluntary grammar sector, so that we are assured that money is being spent on children’s education. This was the conclusion of the recent Salisbury report and it is the right way forward.

Editors notes: ASCL Northern Ireland has written to all its members urging them and the parents in their schools to oppose the cuts to the education budget by responding to the consultation.

See the Letter to Paul Sweeney DENI