Rebecca Black (PA)
Education leaders in Northern Ireland have warned the Secretary and head of the civil service of a “funding crisis”.
Leaders of seven education bodies also called for an urgent meeting to discuss the funding of schools.
Passing a budget in the absence of the Stormont Assembly last November, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said the department of education needs to make significant cuts to its “current spending trajectory”.
Earlier this week the Education Authority said it could not meet saving targets.
The leaders of the Council for Catholic Controlled Schools, Controlled Schools’ Support Council, Council for Integrated Education and the Governing Bodies Association were among those who signed the letter.
The letter was sent to both Mr Heaton-Harris and the head of the civil service Jayne Brady.
They wrote they “would be failing the children and young people of Northern Ireland (NI) if we did not share our significant concerns about the impact of the current crisis in education funding”.
They said reduction in funding and under investment “will negatively impact the quality of education of every child and young person living in NI”.
The education body leaders also contend that funding for children and young people in Northern Ireland “is already significantly lower than that received by those in other regions”.
They said Institute for Fiscal Studies analysis evidences that since 2009-10, spending per pupil has been consistently highest in Scotland and generally lowest in NI.
In 2021-22, spending per pupil is estimated to be £7,600 per pupil in Scotland but only £6,400 in NI, around £6,700 in England and £6,600 in Wales.
“There is now a need for an urgent meeting involving everyone with a concern for the future of our children and young people,” they wrote.
“The focus must be on the restoration of education funding to levels that can fully support the needs of schools and ensure children have the best start in
“Failure to address this problem will have a negative impact for many generations to come.
“Education is essential to the creation of a sustainable economy for all. It is therefore imperative that we act now to ensure that our children and young people have and contribute to a positive future.”