Northern Ireland news

Schools leaders warn of financial crisis in education

Schools have warned they are facing a financial crisis

SCHOOL leaders are to stage a public meeting to highlight the financial crisis facing education.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said the situation was "unacceptable".

The union has been organising meetings following a report from the auditor general in which he said the education system was coming close to a tipping point.

Kieran Donnelly highlighted pressure on budgets, increasing pupil numbers and schools with sustainability issues. He found that while funding had increased between 2012/13 and 2016/17 there had been a 9.3 per cent reduction in real terms.

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee in Westminster is also examining whether the levels of funding allocated to education are sufficient to meet the challenges facing the sector.

It has now emerged that half of the north's schools are in a budget deficit.

The Education Authority analysed about 1,000 schools for 2018/19 and figures revealed 446 schools were projected to be in the red in 2018. Out of those, 352 saw their deficits increase since 2017/18, according to statistics provided to the BBC.

The NAHT's meeting will be held on December 3 at Victoria PS in Carrickfergus. The union said it wanted to see more money put into the education budget overall and schools given control over a greater share.

"NAHT contend that investment in education must be a priority," the union said.

"In order to protect the future of our education system and ensure that every child's needs are met we must have a properly funded education system."

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