Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Deprived areas set to benefit most from changes

Significant gains: John McGrath
Significant gains: John McGrath

Less than one fifth of Northern Ireland's primary schools will share a £6.7m jackpot of additional funding if the proposed changes to the common funding scheme are approved by the Education Minister following the public consultation process.

Of 832 primary schools, 162 (19.5%) will be financially better off, according to illustrative budgets from the Department of Education.

It means that the schools – the majority in the Belfast Education and Library Board area (BELB) – will be able to use the additional resources to employ more staff to raise standards, particularly in literacy and numeracy, which is a key aim of the minister.

In BELB 56 will benefit, 33 in the Western Education and Library Board, 32 in the Southern Education and Library Board, 21 in the South Eastern Education and Library Board (SEELB) and 20 in the North Eastern Education and Library Board.

BELB will get the lion's share of the additional funding – almost half (£3.2m) what the other four boards would get collectively.

Some schools could see their annual budgets soar by more than six figures a year.

The three biggest winners are Holy Cross Boys' Primary, Belfast who would be £185,414 better off each year; Holy Trinity Primary, Belfast (£181,940) and St Kieran's Primary in the South Eastern Education and Library Board (£181,495).

Deputy permanent secretary of the department, John McGrath, told the education committee: "You have to remember that schools with a greater proportion of pupils who receive free school meals will benefit from this.

"Where concentrations of deprivation exist, particularly but not exclusively in Belfast, you will see schools gaining.

"Some will gain significantly, which is the minister's intent. Let us be clear about that."

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