State schools head raises concerns about proposed education savings

Barry Mulholland is head of the Controlled Schools Support Council

THE body representing state schools has raised concerns about proposed savings.

There have been warnings that the education system is facing a funding gap of £350 million by 2020.

A Department of Finance paper this week made recommendations on where money could be saved.

This included training fewer teachers, increasing university fees, ending Educational Maintenance Allowances and means-testing transport.

The Controlled Schools' Support Council chief executive Barry Mulholland said school leaders had profound concerns.

"Whilst it is widely recognised that a significant transformation programme is needed for public services such as education, the reality is that the legislative requirements and existing service delivery structures continue; in this environment sufficient funds are required to support schools, teaching and learning," he said.

"Education must continue to be valued and given the priority it deserves across all government departments; after all, our schools are educating the next generation."

Controlled schools were making staff cuts, he added, which was leading to an increase in class sizes.

"Further to this many schools are having to cut back on books, language and music classes, counselling services and IT equipment. Schools are becoming increasingly more reliant on parents and families making greater financial contributions. This is not sustainable in the long term," he said.

"Home to school transport is being seen as a potential savings area and yes, while either reducing the number of pupils eligible for free transport and/or forcing payment for some or all of the journey may reduce the transport bill, this could present some unforeseen consequences to the system.

"It is not clear how school transport charges can be introduced at this time, given that the requirement to provide free home to school transport is set out in legislation."

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