Northern Ireland news

Schools forced into `unfair' financial position

CSSC chief executive Barry Mulholland

SCHOOLS are being forced into an "unfair" financial position after having spending plans rejected, a leading education body has claimed.

The Education Authority (EA) has refused to authorise budgets for 632 schools saying they were unable to show how they could avoid going into the red.

Failure to have a plan approved effectively means that schools have no approval to spend all the money they need to spend.

The Controlled Schools' Support Council (CSSC) has described the situation as unfair, given the cuts already being made to stay within budget.

Chief Executive Barry Mulholland said principals had voiced serious concerns regarding the implications for their schools, staff and pupils.

"Many controlled schools find themselves in unsustainable financial position despite working diligently to contain their expenditure within the allocation received," he said.

"Many of the schools find the decision not to approve their budget unfair. We have been told that schools are becoming overspent this year as a result of being denied access by EA to their accrued surpluses.

"Schools find it hard to understand how this remains an issue given an additional £8m was allocated by DE to the EA last week and earmarked specifically to cover surpluses."

He added that the CSSC was seeking an urgent meeting with the EA to clarify the situation.

"Controlled school principals have told us it simply is not possible to make any more cuts without impacting on core activities and the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom. The curricular offer is starting to be affected," he said.

"There is also a knock-on impact on mental health and wellbeing of both principals and school staff, with the worry that redundancies are becoming ever more present."

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