Education news

School budget shake-up will cause `financial meltdown'

Teachers fear changes to school budgets will lead to classroom job losses

CHANGES to school budgets will lead to "financial meltdown" and job losses, it has been claimed.

Schools say they are being left to pick up the tab for increases in employers' contributions to National Insurance and superannuation.

Previously the Department of Education has covered the superannuation fund but it will now be left up to schools.

Many are warning this will cost them tens of thousands of pounds, with the cash coming straight out of their budget.

For some, this means making teaching and non-teaching staff redundant.

The National Association of Head Teachers has told members it is "extremely concerned" by the potential impacts on school budgets.

"It is unfair to expect funding for children's education to cover these government-imposed rises which, it appears, will force many school leaders and governors into impossible financial circumstances," the NAHT said.

"We are aware that, in many areas, school leaders are meeting to plan a collective way to challenge this unacceptable state of affairs and to support each other."

One post-primary principal told the Irish News their school was facing a 6 per cent increase in staffing costs.

Schools, they said, would have to meet costs of superannuation and also pending teachers' pay awards from September 2015.

"AWPU (age-weighted pupil unit) allowances have increased marginally - not yet back to where they were in 10/11 - but represent only a fraction of costs to be met by school," they said.

"In the past these costs were met by DENI. Post-primary schools face financial meltdown."

Another senior teacher said the change would lead to job losses.

"School budgets were spared the cost. Now it's taken from budget, reducing what schools have, and therefore why schools must 'cut' to adapt."

A Department of Education spokeswoman said: "In setting the 2016-17 Education Resource Budget the minister has focused, as he has done consistently, on protecting the Aggregated Schools Budget as far as possible, promoting equality and raising education standards."

Last month the education minister said the budget position for schools remains "challenging" but the position was significantly better than anticipated.

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