Grammar school cuts see 50 lose their jobs

A survey of schools identified the impact of the budget on GBA members

GRAMMAR schools lost 50 staff due to budget cuts last year and are warning of further redundancies unless more money is found.

The Governing Bodies Association (GBA), which represents 50 voluntary grammar schools, said it welcomed a Westminster inquiry into education funding in the north.

It has been warned that the education system is facing a £350 million funding gap by 2019/20. Since 2011, it is estimated that there has been a reduction in the education budget of around £200m in real terms.

Many schools are struggling to stay in the black. They have been warned to urgently review their budgets and make "difficult decisions".

Almost 1,500 classroom staff have left their posts in the last four years, across all sectors. The number of teachers leaving schools is more than 150 a year while a significant proportion of support staff have also been made redundant.

Now, the GBA has welcomed an inquiry by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster. It is examining whether the levels of funding allocated to education in the Northern Ireland budget are sufficient to meet the challenges facing the sector. Formal evidence sessions are expected to take place when Parliament returns in the autumn.

The GBA said it was aware of the financial pressures facing schools and recognised the need for an inquiry into the levels of funding being offered.

A survey of schools identified the impact of the budget on GBA members. It showed 70 per cent had operated at a deficit for 2017/18. As a consequence of these budgetary pressures there have been 50 teaching and non-teaching redundancies with further redundancies likely if budget pressures are not alleviated, the group said.

"Our schools have experienced real term cuts to education budgets. At the same time, they are facing rising employer costs and inflationary pressures," said GBA chairman Terry McDaid.

"In addition, a number of schools have to pay an apprenticeship levy and almost all schools have to meet further costs associated with changes in minibus requirements.

"This inquiry is held at a crucial time for education and for our member schools who have suffered cuts to their budgets. For the past 18 months there has been no executive or assembly to scrutinise education funding. As a result, it is now time to look at how front-line education is currently being funded and how it should be resourced going forward."

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