Education news

£10 million to be cut from school budgets

All grant-aided schools will soon be informed of their budgets for 2016/17.

Schools are preparing to tighten their belts further as millions of pounds is cut from budgets.

Education minister John O'Dowd said there would be an overall reduction of 0.8 per cent in the next financial year - about £10m.

All grant-aided schools will soon be informed of their budgets for 2016/17. The total amount of money directly delegated to schools is just less than £1.2bn.

The INTO teachers union, which is due to discuss budget cuts at its annual northern conference beginning on Friday, warned that the latest cuts could create a dire situation for some schools.

Mr O'Dowd said the overall 'Executive Resource Budget' for 2016/17 had been reduced in real terms as a result of cuts imposed by Westminster.

While he admitted the outcome for education was challenging, he said the position was significantly better than previously anticipated.

"My priority has been to ensure that there is minimum impact on the classroom and I have done everything possible to maximise the allocation to the department in 2016/17 and protect the aggregated schools budget as far as possible," Mr O'Dowd said.

"However, it has been impossible to fully protect the schools budget. As a result there will be 0.8 per cent reduction in the next financial year."

The Sinn Fein minister added that £15m of an extra £20m announced by the finance minister in February would be used to top up school budgets.

The remaining £5m will be directed towards the Education Authority for special educational needs services.

In addition, £12.5m is to be made available to help schools fund severance packages for staff.

INTO northern secretary Gerry Murphy said the cut was not as bad as had been expected, but could put some schools in danger of closure.

"Since 2010 the cut has been cumulative and while it is not as bad as thought, when you take into account the year-on-year cut, the consequences for many schools will be dire," he said.

"For some schools it will mean the difference in whether they remain open or whether they are forced into a situation where their viability is called into question leading to them being closed.

"Finance has become such a key indicator in area planning."

While many schools will receive less than they did in 2015/16, some as a result of falling pupils numbers, a large number have not been spending their full allocations in the past few years.

A response to an assembly question revealed recently that schools were sitting on a combined £50m.

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