NAHT (NI) read with interest, but not surprise, the results of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee’s review of education funding in Northern Ireland, published on 22 July 2019.
Following an event hosted by NAHT(NI) entitled ‘Education in Crisis’ at Stormont in February 2019, which was attended by MLAs representing each of the main parties, all were in agreement that the situation had reached breaking point.
Geri Cameron, NAHT (NI) President, said: “The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee report underlines what our members have been communicating to NAHT(NI), and what NAHT(NI) has been reporting to the Department for Education for years now. Despite this, and in the absence of a functioning Assembly, nothing has been done to alleviate the real and present difficulties facing Northern Ireland’s education service, including the lack of funding for provision and staff.
“We note that the Committee recommends that the Common Funding Formula should be reviewed. This is a point which has been made by NAHT(NI) to the Department. However, the Department still continues to use this formula to distribute pension uplift payments to schools causing, as our members tell us, even more strain to their exhausted budgets.
“Schools in Northern Ireland have suffered the worst real-time cuts of all Department-funded education services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. At the same time, school leader members of NAHT(NI) have been subjected to significant increases in workload and pressure including the action short of a strike implemented by teachers’ Unions in 2011.
“As a result, members of NAHT(NI) have been attempting to navigate cuts in funding to school budgets, industrial action by colleagues and the consequences of a defunct Assembly, with no pay increase, no support and in an unreasonable environment which is damaging to their well-being. And of course, ultimately it is the children and young people in our care who lose out the most because of this.
“This assessment of school funding in Northern Ireland has been well known for many years but nothing has improved. Over 90 per cent of NAHT(NI) members voted in favour of industrial action in an indicative ballot survey in January 2019, citing workload and well-being as significant to the dispute. This is closely linked to inadequate funding for SEND provision, staffing and delegated budgets.
“NAHT(NI) further notes that the report recommends that the Department should publish a draft health and well-being strategy for consultation before the end of this year. Since 2017, NAHT (NI) has been calling for employing bodies to take the well-being of school leaders in Northern Ireland seriously. Should the concerns of NAHT(NI) members not be taken seriously and immediately, we believe that they will go to ballot and vote in favour of industrial action in September 2019.”
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