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Education news

Cuts `heaping more pressure' on schools

INTO assistant northern secretary Mark McTaggart

CUTS in education are heaping more pressure on already struggling schools, a leading teaching official has warned.

Debts are soaring with schools predicted to be millions in the red in the next three years.

The overall education budget, announced in July, is £24m less than the closing 2016/17 budget.

An additional £10m has now been found, but schools and education bodies are still being forced to make savings.

Unions have claimed that the cuts will mean schools will find it impossible to maintain their high quality of education.

Principals in Belfast have written to parents, education bodies and politicians warning they would not make any further reductions.

INTO assistant northern secretary Mark McTaggart said the role of head teachers had been made "infinitely more difficult" due to the "ever reducing financial viability of the education system".

Writing in his union's Printout magazine, the former principal said cuts had seen an increase in workloads.

"Schools have been forced to pick up the service shortfalls arising from these cuts," he said.

"The deficits identified across the system have manifested in other ways. Increasingly the education bureaucracy has sought to divest itself of responsibilities."

He said these included professional development and school improvement training, maintenance work and professional and pastoral support for staff.

"To date, this has only been possible because, as professionals, principals and their colleagues have stretched themselves to the limit to make it happen," he said.

"The workload increases experienced by classroom teachers is also experienced by principals.

"It is important that, as trade unionists, we support all of those who are prepared to make a stand against the ongoing cuts to education budgets. Should we not continue to aid such opposition, then it is the young people in our members' care who will suffer the most."

The Department of Education, meanwhile, has welcomed the extra £10m announced this week by the Department of Finance.

"However, even with this additional funding, the department continues to face major financial pressures in 2017-18 if it is to operate within its budget, and the financial position of schools is currently being assessed by the department and the Education Authority," a spokeswoman said.

"The additional £10m, while not being directly allocated to schools, will be used to ensure the continued provision of services in the department's core functions of early years' provision, schools and youth services and to address significant existing unfunded pressures such as those relating to the Special Education Needs budget."

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