Belfast Telegraph

Listen to schools on cuts, O'Dowd told

By Anna Maguire

The Assembly's education committee has appealed to the Education Minister to listen to schools' concerns over proposed cuts.

A total of 670 of 832 primary schools could have less money to spend on teachers, classroom assistants and resources from 2014-15 if reforms to schools' funding are rubberstamped. Some could lose more than £40,000 annually.

Education Minister John O'Dowd has said that he does not believe the current funding system effectively targets social disadvantage.

But the reforms are increasingly being described as divisive and deeply flawed by principals.

"This is deteriorating into a very serious issue," education committee chair Mervyn Storey said.

"Concern is not just from principals who are losing money but also from the beneficiaries. Four out of five education and library boards will be potentially losing 80% of their funding.

"I know one school which will see an almost £17,000 reduction in funding a year, which means they will lose one teacher," he added.

"They will have an average class size of 31.03 (pupils). So the school will be in contravention of a department circular... which reminds schools of their duty that class sizes do not exceed 30.

"How do they square the circle? It does not make sense."

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