Concern over school budgets

Trevor Robinson.
Trevor Robinson.

Local politicians are up in arms about the ‘crisis’ in our classrooms due to budget cuts.

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly said it was having a ‘severe negative impact on our children’s education’.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein MLA John O’Dowd described it as ‘detrimental’.

Trevor Robinson, Headmaster of Lurgan College said he was ‘very pleased’ to meet with Dolores earlier in the year to outline principals’ concerns regarding the budget crisis.

“The cuts in funding will undoubtedly impact on children’s education in all schools with fewer resources and larger class sizes, not to mention the poor levels of accommodation experienced by many of our schools,” he said.

Mrs Kelly said: “It has been clear to us for some time that we’re on the brink of a significant crisis in school budgets that will have a severe negative impact on our children’s education. That’s why we met with principals from a range of sectors to hear their concerns and their experience of managing the substantial reductions forced on their schools by the ongoing political paralysis.

“Principals and teachers are under a huge deal of stress and strain because of budget pressures. The scale of savings being forced cannot be made in many schools without compromising, in a very serious way, the quality of education our children receive. The shocking and scary reality is that unless this is immediate intervention schools will be faced with decisions to cut staff, default on bills and limit the educational opportunities of young people.

“This is a time for political parties and civic society to unite, fight and resist the cuts to school budgets. We cannot allow a situation where we are balancing the books on the backs of our children. We should be investing in education, supporting schools and striving to build on the sterling educational experience our children receive here, rather than putting it at risk.

“I will be inviting local schools and school leaders to a series of meetings in the time ahead to discuss this issue and map out a way forward.”

Mr O’Dowd called on the Department of Education to reinstate the sports development funding which was introduced by Caitriona Ruane when she was Education minister. He said: “The loss of the scheme run by the GAA and IFA in local schools will have a hugely detrimental impact.”