Following on from a successful event in Stormont earlier in the week (involving the Permanent Secretary Derek Baker, school principals and MLAs from all political parties), we were delighted to see an excellent turn out for our first budget meeting in Strandtown Primary School.
It was standing room only with representation from governors, parents, other education trade union representatives, politicians and school leaders from 18 local schools.
Speakers highlighted the fact that many schools are facing impossible financial pressures that will have detrimental consequences for the education of children in Northern Ireland.
- Principals highlighted how current funding levels are inadequate to meet basic running costs of the school, many stated they do not have enough money in their budgets to meet basic heating and staffing costs, more than ever budgets are dependant on parental contributions.
- School governors stated that they cannot continue to approve such crippling budgets with a clear conscience, it was suggested that governors should come together to strategize how to safeguard the excellent standard of education that pupils currently receive.
- Representatives of PTA stated that many parents are not yet aware of the full impact of such substantial cuts. It was identified that raising awareness is essential; parents must be made aware so that pressure can be applied to the government to ensure more money goes in to the education budget for the direct benefit of schools and pupils.
We would like to thank everyone that attended and ask for continued support at our ongoing series of public meetings with school leaders, governors and parents as our campaign gains momentum. Following the announcement by Derek Baker that the Department is facing £105m of cash pressures in 2017/18 we are concerned that the situation will only get worse.