Belfast Telegraph

Stranmillis mum heads up school funds cut fight

By Dave Whelan

Over 7,000 people have signed an online petition launched by mother-of-two Christine Mooney over controversial proposals which could see 670 of 832 primary schools lose money for teachers, classroom assistants and resources from 2014.

Ms Mooney, whose five-year-old daughter attends Stranmillis PS, which is set to lose around £12,000, set up an online site after describing an online consultation form as "lengthy and difficult for the average parent to understand".

On the site Ms Mooney simplified the proposals into 193 words after seeing that the majority were unaware of the proposals because they were contained in a report heavy on detail and jargon.

If implemented, the proposed changes would shift funding in favour of schools with high levels of special deprivation.

Meaning that schools where 50% or more pupils were receiving school meals would get significantly more money every year, while schools in more affluent areas could lose out on up to £40,000.

The online petition, launched only a fortnight ago, was delivered by Ms Mooney to the Assembly's education committee on Thursday (October 25) the day before the closure of a public consultation on the proposals.

Critics of the proposals include south Belfast principal of St Anne's Primary School, Michael Keenan who warned that the removal of annual funding for children with additional educational needs will have a detrimental impact on the future of thousands of children.

"This funding is all about trying to provide additional help, especially in the early years," said Mr Keenan.

"The idea is to try and get intervention as soon as possible so children can progress. If we address the issues early on, we do not have to address it later on."

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