ALMOST half the schools that bid successfully for shared education cash have had offers withdrawn due to stand-off over new assessments.
The £25million Delivering Social Change Shared Education signature project is designed to create "a more cohesive education system" in which children from different community backgrounds can be educated together.
A call for applications targeted up to 600 schools that could demonstrate a significant commitment to shared education. Those whose applications were approved received letters from the Education Authority (EA) telling them how much money they would receive, subject to terms and conditions.
They must agree to regular monitoring arrangements, which rely on pupil outcomes at the end of Key Stages 2 and 3, using the levels of progression. The EA letter reads: "Full compliance with the statutory assessment process is, therefore, a mandatory condition of the funding."
This angered teachers who have, for the past two years, been boycotting the arrangements. About 7,000 members of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) are involved in continuous action short of strike.
This includes a refusal to recognise assessment arrangements they claim have "no value to pupils, parents or teachers and is distracting from the real education of pupils".
Principals were warned that full compliance with end of key stage `levels of progression' was a mandatory condition of shared education funding.
It has now emerged that many of the projects that were told they would be funded have had these offers withdrawn.
At the end of the first round of applications, the Department of Education confirmed, 34 partnerships involving 81 schools were approved for funding. A letter of offer was then issued to all the approved partnerships.
The department said: "All approved partnerships met the criteria for funding, however, on receipt of the letter of offer, 14 partnerships advised they were unable to satisfy the terms and conditions of funding. 14 offers of funding were withdrawn. These can be reinstated when the issue has been resolved."
The INTO instructed its members this month to continue with the action short of strike, although it has been suggested that some outstanding issues are close to being settled.
"We are making progress in our discussions and I'm hopeful a resolution acceptable to all parties will soon be arrived at," said INTO northern secretary Gerry Murphy.