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3,000 teachers could face axe in budget cuts

By Lindsay Fergus

Hundreds of teachers could be made redundant this year when cuts to school budgets are implemented, it has been warned.

The SDLP believes more than 150 teaching posts will be chopped in the Belfast Education and Library Board (BELB) area alone — and, as a result, class sizes will climb.

However, there are four other education and library boards who also employ teachers as well as the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS).

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has put the Northern Ireland-wide figure at 1,000 in the next academic year but rising to 3,000. It follows a |decision by the Department of Education to reduce the amount of funding available to schools from this September.

Speaking after a meeting between a delegation of SDLP Belfast councillors and BELB, councillor Tim Attwood said: “A number of principals have informed us that the decrease of 5% in the school budget in the next financial year will have a devastating impact on schools.

“For some primary schools this could equate to a loss of £40,000 in their budget and hundreds of thousands of pounds for larger secondary schools with the loss of

teachers, support staff and larger class sizes. “The worst fears of schools could become a reality following our meeting with BELB. If the cuts are implemented there could be at least 150 redundancies in Belfast schools in the first year.”

He added: “The SDLP is extremely concerned about the impact the school budget cuts will have on local children, schools and communities in west Belfast.”

Mark Langhammer, director of ATL, said: “Extrapolating from the departmental budget for 2011-15, our expectation is for 2,000 to 3,000 teacher redundancies over the period of the current Assembly mandate. Unions will liaise closely with employers to minimise compulsory redundancies.”

Background

The Department of Education announced at the end of November that the Aggregated Schools’ Budget (ASB), the amount of funding schools receive, was being cut. The planned ASB for 2012/13 is £1,093m compared to £1.125.7m this year - a shortfall of £32.4m or 2.9% year-on-year. That will directly hit funding per pupil.

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