Education Authority Chief Executive, Gavin Boyd and Chairperson, Sharon O’Connor have been meeting with groups of school Principals throughout November and December to highlight the serious financial challenges facing Education.
Addressing Principals, EA Chief Executive Gavin Boyd said;
“We can trace the origins of the current financial pressures back to 2010/11. Since then we estimate that there has been a reduction in the education budget of around £200m in real terms. As a result and despite some protection by the Executive, schools have also seen their budgets drop by 10%. This is now causing real difficulties for many schools.
With pupil numbers rising and costs increasing, we now have over 300 schools in deficit. This reduces the funds available for other services like support for children with special educational needs.
Put simply, we do not have enough money to fund education as currently structured. In my view, the situation is going to get worse over the next few years.
Education is fundamentally important to our young people, our community and our economy. We want to encourage everyone to participate in a well-informed debate about what we need from our education system to prepare our young people for the future and how we might resource that system.”
EA Chairperson, Sharon O’Connor talked about the importance of engagement with key stakeholders across education in dealing with some of the key challenges;
“The Education Authority is committed to listening to the views of the widest range of educational partners and stakeholders and working together as we plan a response to the challenges we face. We particularly welcome the opportunity to discuss key issues with Principals who feel the real pressure of managing schools and delivering for children in very difficult circumstances every day.
We have also been listening to young people in our primary schools who have been telling us about the importance of the whole school community and the people who help them; their classroom assistants, their bus drivers and their dinner ladies. In addition, pupils from our post primary schools have brought a very real insight into the impacts of mental health issues, social media and online bullying.
These are challenges for our whole community. Whilst we continue to talk about finances, we must not lose sight of the children and young people at the heart of our education system. We must work together now to ensure that they can be the best that they can be.”