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Teaching bodies unite in fight against budget cuts in Northern Ireland

By Rebecca Black

Published 22/04/2016

The bodies that have united to take a stand against cuts include 80 of our most important educational organisations
The bodies that have united to take a stand against cuts include 80 of our most important educational organisations

The bodies that have united to take a stand against cuts include 80 of our most important educational organisations.

Among them are the Governing Bodies Association (GBA), which represents the 50 voluntary grammar schools; the Association of Controlled Grammar Schools, which represents the head teachers of the 18 controlled grammars; and the Catholic Heads Association, which represents the principals of Catholic voluntary grammars.

Also included are the Voluntary Grammar Schools Bursars Association (VGSBA) and the Association of School and College Leaders Northern Ireland, which represents school chiefs in most large post-primaries.

GBA director Nuala O'Neill said this year marked the sixth consecutive year of "punitive budget cuts". "GBA member schools have long since trimmed any excess from their budgets whilst maintaining delivery of high standards," she added. "Schools now face the toughest of choices, with limited options as to how savings can be achieved. Redundancies are likely.

"Education is too important to be starved of vital resources, and we call upon the Executive to give schools the funding that they need to provide pupils with a quality education."

VGSBA chair Christina Byrnes said schools were reaching a "crisis situation". "As well as a budget reduction, we are faced with having to face costs that schools have no control over and no choice but to implement," she added. "If no additional funding becomes available, schools will have no choice but to look at how they are managing their budget, and 85% of our costs in schools are staffing costs, so obviously that is going to be the first line schools will be looking at

"They will also be looking at the choice of subjects on offer. The impact will definitely be felt by pupils in terms of subject choice and class sizes. Schools will be looking at their curricular and non-curricular activities, even things like educational visits and the collaboration programmes that are on between schools. Those all cost schools additional money, for example on transport costs.

"All areas will be under scrutiny if we don't get additional funding. Schools cannot keep doing the same things with these levels of cuts. Something has to go. It is a very grave concern - it is a crisis in schools."

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