Education Minister Caitriona Ruane has hit out at “speculation and scaremongering” on potential job losses in education — despite her own department raising the possibility of hundreds of redundancies.
The Belfast Telegraph revealed yesterday that the Department of Education's spending proposals for the next five years include £253.8m for redundancies over four years. This is on top of 188 teacher redundancies likely during 2010 and 2011.
Documents showing the spending proposals for the next five years were discussed at last week’s education committee meeting.
Chair of the committee, the DUP’s Mervyn Storey, said teachers are likely to be hit if a mass redundancy plan goes ahead. He estimated that the plan, if agreed, could see up to 2,000 jobs lost.
Frank Bunting, northern secretary of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation, branded the proposal “horrific” and stressed that job cuts would have a serious negative impact on education here.
Ms Ruane said: “Speculation and scaremongering on up to 2,000 redundancies in education is unfounded and unhelpful.
“Any savings to be delivered by
Departments across the Budget 2010 period will need to be agreed by the Executive and so it would be premature at this stage to speculate on numbers and staff groups affected.
“I am keen that any reductions to education services agreed by the Executive will be applied in a way that protects frontline services as far as possible.
“I am committed to endeavouring to minimise the impact of any reductions on staff numbers and education services, however, with some 80% of the education budget relating to pay costs I am sure people will appreciate the scale of the difficulty here.”