Teachers at breaking point thanks to cuts
As a dad of a nine-year-old and six-year-old twins, I believe strongly that one of the hardest jobs around is being a good teacher. I wonder sometimes how teachers cope with 30 little people with different needs when I have the joy of dealing with my three little treasures.
On a daily basis, you witness the professionalism, care and compassion of teachers who work tirelessly to support children.
Last week, a number of courageous school principals addressed Belfast City Council - out of necessity - to highlight the impact of the proposed 2.5% cut in the education budget by Secretary of State James Brokenshire.
Schools remain the one constant pillar of our community: places of learning that can always be relied upon to be open and welcoming and an oasis of calm and hope for children who live in communities often overwhelmed by disadvantage.
It is clear from speaking to teachers that they are at breaking point and schools are in a state of crisis.
The result is an education system straining to hold it together, relying on the goodwill of teachers and principals. Morale is at an all-time low as the pressure to save money gets ever more relentless. Overloaded by bureaucracy, paperwork and box-ticking, teachers have to be parents, therapists, social workers and sometimes police officers to deal with the plethora of self-harm, behavioural problems and other community problems presented in school.
Writer Natasha Devon says: "When the teachers are gone, exhausted and burned out from doing what the state should do - supporting the needs of the most vulnerable in their community - who will pick up the pieces?"
Let all politicians listen to this cry for help from principals and act to ensure schools get the full resources needed to support our children through education.
Cllr Tim Attwood (SDLP)
Belfast City Council